The Village of Reedy lies at the three forks of the creek. The height above the level of the sea is 680.66 feet at the bridge on the Ravenswood and Spencer turnpike, which spans the main creek immediately below the mouth of the Right Fork.
Left Reedy, which is the principal stream, is sixteen and one half miles from the village to its head, and drains a basin of approximately thirty three square miles.
The Middle Fork unites with the Left Fork, which, as if attracted by the approach of another body of water, flows out of its course and crosses to the base of the southern hill to meet it. The streams crook and twist back and forth over the bottomland, making peninsulas and goosenecks, seeking the line of least resistance, until finally they succeed in uniting. Their waters then flow away in a comparatively straight line toward their junction with the right hand fork.
The course of all these crooks and meanderings is evidently caused by the immense piles of driftage which, in ancient times, were brought down from the valleys above and piled up to obstruct the channels and change the flow the current.
The Left Fork is about three poles wide at is mouth. The general direction of the stream from head to mouth is a very little east of north. The last mile of the valley opens nearly due west but the last half mile of the course of the creek is almost toward every point of the compass. The same may be observed concerning the waters of Sycamore, where they join Mill Creek at Ripley, and to some extent, of the two branches of Sandy where they unite below Sandyville. This is doubtless caused by the drifts brought down in freshets hundreds of years ago.
The Middle Fork of Reedy is thirteen miles long and two poles wide at its mouth, where, like all low ground streams, it runs deep and sullen, without bars or shallows.
The Right Fork, often called Seaman Fork, skirts the base of the eastern hill for about one half mile. The course from the bridge up is nearly west. The hills on the left, and with few exceptions, on the right of the stream are very high and steep.
Something over a mile above the mouth a stream comes down from the right, out from the lofty hills. From here to the head of the stream a succession of high, steep points, each modeled after its neighbor and separated by a little stream, succeed each other, all bald, narrow and steep, like promontories along the coast.
At the head of the Left Branch is a succession of peaks and "Potato hole knobs", fifteen or twenty in number and reaching over on to the head of Mill Creek.
The Village of Reedy lies mostly on a low bottom, and has always been subject to inundations, which become more frequent as the forests are stripped from the hillsides of the streams above, allowing the water to run from them into the little streams and thence in to the creek, during the sudden cloudbursts, downpours or continuous rains, which occasionally occur, like water from the roof of a building.
The two streams coming together so nearly at right angles causes the water to dam up and spread out over the bottoms, which are very low at this point. To add to the difficulty, the hills come together at the lower end of the village about seventy rods below the bridge, shutting off the bottom and narrowing the valley to not more than sixteen rods. The slope of the hill rises rapidly to the base of the bluffs. Through this gorge the pent up torrents must force their way, and being thus held in check, are thrown back over the low lying lands above.
Much of the low lands of what is now Reedy Village were swamps of water and wet and boggy land until it was drained.
The whole bottom may have been, at different times, a part of the channel of one or the other of the streams. It is said that when the well was dug at the Gibbs house near the point of union of two creeks and back about eight rods from the right fork and twelve from the main creek on comparatively high ground, a pine log was found fourteen feet below the surface of the ground.
When the house was first built back at the foot of the hill up Lower Brook old logs and driftwood were found several feet below the surface of the ground. This is forty rods or more back from the present channel of the creek.
The main creek may once have followed up the slough of Lower Brook to the hills, returning around the base of the northeastern slope, or the drift may have been deposited there and afterward covered in the many inundations of the low bottom.
When I first "saw" the village of Reedy, it was the night of the 8th of February, 1872, about seven o'clock, and so dark that I did not see it at all.
Thirty five years ago the place consisted mostly of fields, swamps, mud and space. Beside these there were two stores and another little one room building which had been used for that purpose, one hotel, one water mill for grinding corn, one cobbler shop, one blacksmith shop, and thirteen dwelling houses, including the hotel and a resident physician,
There was an unpainted one room country schoolhouse, which accommodated all of the children within a radius of one mile or more. There was no church, though the Southern Methodists had an organization, and held regular services at the schoolhouse.
Five of the sixteen houses were built of hewed logs, two were plank, and the remainder, frame - but mostly guiltless of paint, and all were roofed with shingles or clapboards.
There was a substantial wooden bridge across the creek and beyond were two vacant houses, one a frame, old and shackling. It was two stories high, and stood down the creek. Here had lived William M. Watts when he first came to Reedy in 1848, and later William Cottle and his son-in-law, John B. Hill.
The other was a log cabin, not over fourteen by sixteen feet, with chunked and daubed walls, rib roof, pole joists, one small window, and a door that reached to the first rib. It was built by Andrew Bord, and was abandoned on the death of his wife, some years later. No one lived in the hut after I knew the country, and it was not many years before it disappeared, probably to serve as firewood for some of the neighbors. It stood as near as I can tell just in front of the Reedy mill.
Of the four houses in what I have denominated the lower section, the one farthest down the stream was a hewed log building with wide old fashioned porch which stood back a little from the road, which then followed the creek from the bridge. This was on the lot now owned by Mrs. Madaline Depue.
This was the residence of Alf Cain, who had built it. He was an eccentric old man, who was the wealthiest in the village, yet he dressed as shabbily as the poorest, and went barefoot in the summer days around the street. He had been a schoolmaster of the olden time, and he and M.A. McClung of Folly run constituted the Bar of Reedy Township. (They practiced before his Honor Judge R.R. Chancey, and later, Judge Josiah Stutler, who was elected Justice of the Peace in October, 1872, and whose term commenced when the townships became districts the fourth of March, following.
The next two houses stood near together, and about sixty to sixty five yards higher up the creek. The first was a hewed log house built by Girard Cline, and the upper was of plank and was built by William Cain, a son of Alf Cain, who was killed in a boiler explosion at the sawmill just below the town, on the eight of February, 1865.
It was while trying to escape from one of those houses that John B. Smith was drowned in the "Trim" Flood, the night of July 26, 1874, while crossing a deep sink between the house and higher ground beyond.
Just above these, and standing well back in the field, was an old frame house built by John Wesley Cain, it is said to be the oldest house now standing in the village. It stood near its present site, but after the road was changed, turned around so as to continue to face it. No one was living in this house, and I do not know who occupied the two below.
Back in the field, probably not far from the bridge which crosses the slough, stood the frame of a large grist mill that was put up by Philip Cox before the war. But he, dying, it was never finished. If completed, it would have been the best in this part of the state and Reedy would have had a mill thirty years sooner.
An old resident once told me that Philip Cox first built a horse mill. "It was a big roller on a platform, and the timbers for this were used in the building of the barn at the old Bell Tavern stand."
Philip Cox was from Harrison County. He kept store at Reedy for a while, and is spoken of by all who knew him as one of the most enterprising men who had ever come to live in the place. Cox and Smith had a store in 1856, and P.D. Cox, in 1857. Philip Cox was buried at Reedy when he died, but was later taken up and moved to the Elk River.
Andrew Callison kept hotel at the Depue stand. He had store, the principal one in the village, in a house across the road on the creek bank. He had only the stock of a second rate country store, but with his obliging manners and accommodating ways, was a successful salesman and a man highly esteemed in the community.
His store building was the upper room of the McKinley & Dye establishment, which has since been remodeled, and raised out of the way of floods.
The "Trim" flood of 1874 was just to the top of the counters in this building.
Next came an old one story frame house, weatherbeaten and dilapidated, in which William Woodyard, a merchant of Spencer, had maintained a sort of branch store for a couple of years. The "Three Forks of Reedy" post office was also kept here under the supervision of the late Daniel Webster Chapman. What an imposing name to string out across an envelope; but it was frequently shortened to Reedy or Three Forks, either of which addresses brought mail from nearby points all right.
At that time mail facilities were slightly inferior to the rural route system of today, which brings a man's papers to his door "smoking hot" each day. There were then only two mails each week.
At that time, Spencer, Reedyville, Sandyville, and Reedy Ripple were the only nearby post offices. Reedy was the only office in the district. There was not a daily paper taken in the community, and the majority of the families were not subscribers to any paper, general or local.
The Reedy post office was first established about 1842, with William Stewart as postmaster. He and Alf Cain served most of the time before the war, and as late as 1883 there were only twenty three offices in the county. These were: Reedy, Reedyville, Peniel, Spencer, Schilling, Roxaland, Looneyville, Flat Fork, Walton, Newton, Osborne's Mills, Mattie, etc.
Now there are in Reedy district four free delivery routes, aggregating ninety miles in length, servicing what had been serviced before their establishment by six post offices.
The building in which the post office was kept was built by "Old Billy Stewart" and used as a store by Mr. C.R. Boggs from 1858 to 1862, when it was looted and broken up by a gang of guerillas.
The next house was the residence of Mr. A.M. Cottle, the village blacksmith. It stood where John Bishop now lives, and was, I believe, built in as an ell when Mr. Cottle completed that house a few years later.
Cottle's trade rival was Uncle Jeff Bord, then in the vigor of his early prime, who swung sledge in a little log shop which stood on the right of the road a quarter of a mile up the Spencer pike.
About 1878 or 1879, Cottle built the Bishop house and put up a new and more commodious shop on the present site of Rader's store.
The next place was the dwelling house of Andy Stewart, and the same house is still standing though the owner passed away several years ago.
Andy Stewart married Barbara Westfall in 1843 and two or three years later built this house and moved into it. Here he continued to reside until his death, and here still lives his widow, now in her eighty first year.
Back from the house, near the creek, stood the old tub mill, which formed a part of one of the most pleasing and picturesque scenes in the Reedy valley. To view it was to be lifted out of the busy life of the village and transplanted to some lonely valley in the hills. Here a broad sweep of road comes down around the end of a rocky point in a wide curve, and crosses the creek a short distance below an old log mill dam, over which the water poured in a sheet with a continual roar. A deep pond of water lay below the dam, shelving outward to a rocky bar, where the road crossed, turning back in a sharp elbow and climbing the farther bank on a steep grade and thus back to the hustle and bustle of the village.
My mind yet carries many pleasant pictures of this spot.
A sycamore tree growing on the edge of the pool and leaning out over the water, the sunlight filtering down through the whispering leaves and flecking the surface with dancing light and shadow.
Cows standing knee deep in its tide, in peaceful rumination, occasionally whisking off a fly with lazy tail. The very picture of placid enjoyment.
A bare legged boy with hat of straw, half brimless, coming down the road astride a bony horse in harness. The swinging chains clinking out a tinkling rhythm. The boy holding tight with both hands to the tops of the broad, red painted old fashioned hames, and digging his bare heels hard against the traces when the animal walks into the pool and bends to drink.
At one end of the dam a little building of hewn logs standing half on the ground, half on a framework of posts and cross timbers, with a huge circular box in which a ponderous millwheel churns the water into a foam as it turns, with its might wooden shaft, the burs which are grinding out the yellow meal, above.
The miller, a little old man wizened and bent with grey hair and dusty coat, standing bareheaded in the little porthole window, looking down at the water rushing over the dam.
The mill pond, stretching away, curving out of sight, deep, silent, sluggish and treacherous. The bank beyond the mill rising almost sheer from the sullen flow of the stream, clothed with trees and an undergrowth of brush and bramble so thick the house standing at the top is scarcely distinguishable through the foliage.
Rocks and ferns everywhere, and flowers of the woods in their season, tiny innocence in palest blue, snow white anemone nodding in the wind, wild violets - purple, white, yellow and striped - wood botany, quaint and greenish grey in sunny patches amid the rock. Clustered spots of robin's plantain in the early spring, Indian pinks in scarlet, wild larkspur in a peculiar velvety blue, pink geraniums standing thick among the rocks, bunches of spring beauty in open spaces where the sun can reach the ground. Also clumps of wild honeysuckle clinging to the light clay soil of the upper slopes in brilliant hues of orange and pink. Wild columbine amidst the shales. Lady slipper with yellow moccasins drooping in the shade, and jack-in-the-pulpit peering out in the low moist nooks next to the waterside. A close look in sheltered places high above the stream, where sunlight seldom comes, will discover the charmingly modest little pipsissewa or that most fragile of all the plants of the woods, the delicate beautiful Indian pipe.
Birds in brilliant plumage, birds in homelike greys and browns, flash in and out among the trees or chirp and twitter amid the thickets.
A beautiful quiet homely spot, and yet inside the corporation limit of a small country village.
But a change came. Surveyors, sighting through with their instruments, and driving stakes, then a huge machine with ponderous triphammer was set down by the corner of the old mill and giant blows drove whole logs endwise into the ground by the point below the dam. A framework of sawn timbers was stretched across and the banks tied together with steel rails, which ran in shining sinuous trail for miles on either side and Reedy had its first railroad.
The little old miller, wizened and bent, his hair grown as white as used to be his dusty coat, lies down awhile and then is borne away to his long home on the myrtle clad bluff. The road is changed to cross at a new iron bridge a hundred yards below. The millwheel is hushed, the dam is broken down, and the mill itself is torn away for fuel.
The old mill was built in 1853 and stood for forty five years, when it was broken up for firewood.
Thirty five years ago the right side of the street was without buildings from A.M. Cottle's on the Bishop lot to the schoolhouse. The ground was meadow land, with a "dismal swamp" in the upper field opposite the railroad grounds, where in winter clumps of alder stood in a frozen lake; and in the springtime, thousands of frogs harped clamorous music with here and there a green bullfrog singing a heavy bass.
Above the mill, W.P. Stewart owned two lots, living in a log house on the lower lot, where Mr. George Goad now resides. The houses stood near the old well now in the garder, and was built in 1857. Fifty years ago the log house was replaced by a neat and showy two story frame building, until it went up in flame and smoke in the worst fire of Reedy's history. By the road on this lot was a little office in which Alf Stewart used to cobble shoes and boots.
On the upper lot was a little store building in the corner near the red gate by Cottle's blacksmith shop. Mr. Stewart had sold goods here before, but when I first knew the place it was not in use.
In the spring of 1872 one Tom Clark, who was buying wool for the Ripley Woolen Mills probably, used the building as a ware room for a time; and in 1873 or 1874 a man named Goben or VanGoben tried to sell goods there for a few weeks.
There was a house standing back in the lot on higher ground, in which Mr. Peter Brown, then in the tintype buisness, lived about 1873. Allen Cottle had lived there a year after his marriage, before he moved to the little plank house on the Bishop lot.
When Dr. Barr first came to Reedy about 186-, he lived a year in the same house, before he bought and moved into the residence of Dr. F.A. Cooper, which stood in a grove of locust trees on the spot where A.M. Cottle now resides.
In 1877, the Rev. G.S. McKutcheon, then pastor of the Spencer circuit of the Southern Methodist Church, was a tenant of the house.
What is now the site of the R.S.&G. Depot and the tie yard above was then a cornfield enclosed by a low straggling worn fence.
The last building on the street was the schoolhouse, which stood on the same lot the present one occupies. It was of the same pattern as the one commonly used. A low squatty unpainted frame, with a door in the middle of the front, and a blackboard at the rear, some four feet or less in width and reaching half across the building. There were three small twelve light windows on each side. For furnishing, a stove for wood or coal occupied the center. A wide plank, planed and securely fastened to the wall at a slight angle, ran along both sides of the house under the windows for a writing shelf. Next to this was a plank seat without back, so pupils could face either way. Two more rows of seats with backs reaching a little less than half the length of the building, so arranged as to leave an aisle back to the writing bench, and two or three seats for recitation, with a rough homemade desk for the teacher, who could furnish his own chair or use a short bench, as he preferred. A broom, a bucket, and a tin cup, and the outfit was complete. Crayons, the teacher bought and supplied gratis, the price being twenty five cents per box, and he, or some of the larger boys, procured a piece of sheepskin, which nailed to a block, made a good eraser.
The Reedy schoolhouse was built when the first free school system was inaugurated, a little after the close of the war, or about 1866.
It was the center of one of the ten school districts into which the township was originally divided. It was used until supplanted by the present graded school building.
William Stewart, one time owner of all the land round about, lived thirty five years ago in a hewed log house on the elevation now the site of the residence of Dr. Carter.
He built his cabin here in the woods, in 1816 or 1817, and continued to reside in the same spot for some sixty years, until his death in 1877.
After the decease of Mr. Stewart the land was divided between the heirs and rapidly cut into building lots along the main street.
The sawmill of Vernon and Sayre was imbedded in a sea of mud, immediately opposite Theodore Staats' store. It was the old fashioned steam sawmill and corn cracker combination. Much of the timber sawed was floated down the creek in rafts and dragged to the mill with oxen, then the most common draft animals.
"Old Dan'l Sears" (Sayre) was a rather tall man, if my memory is correct, with a bent form, white hair and whiskers, and a pleasant cheerful face. In love of fun and droll jokes he was the counterpart of Old Tommy Boggs.
He came from about Letart when a young man, and settled at Sandyville about 1820, the pioneer of that place. He had been in the sawmill business for years, and in his old days married the Widow Blosser, and moved to the Three Forks of Reedy, where she lived.
The Blosser house was a low, weatherboarded, unpainted frame, and stood just under the road where it comes around the point toward the old mill dam.
It was built by Robert Blosser, who was one of the five men killed in the mill explosion at the lower end of the villate on February 8, 1865. This house was built before the war and stood to become one of the landmarks of the place. It was born down by Mr. John Blosser when he erected his beautiful many gabled green and white cottage residence, by the side of the new road at the lower end of the lot.
When the "Sears" house was removed there were only two of the early day buildings left, the John Cain house down by the Slough bridge, and the Andy Stewart residence on Main Street.
On the end of the point above the mill dam, in the house still occupied by his widow, lived Charles W. Cottle, a brother of Allen Cottle, and at that time assessor for the northern end of Roane County.
The Cottle family were from Scotland, whence came Charles William at the age of thirty five. He and two brothers, one of whom finally located on the James River in Virginia, and the other on the Licking River in Kentucky. Charles William drifted to what is now Nicholas County, where he owned a large tract of land and engaged in Cattle raising, becoming quite wealthy for that period. He was High Sheriff of Kanawha County before 1818, while Nicholas was still a part of that county.
His son, William Davis Cottle, came to Reedy in 1852 ir 1853, He lived at the Rader hose, which is still standing down on the left side of Reedy below the bridge, in 1872. The house and land had been a part of the Watts farm. Watts traded it to John B. Hill, a Methodist preacher and Cottle's son in law.
C.W Cottle died June 9, 1859.
John Stewart, a son of old Billy Stewart, sometimes called "Little John" to distinguish him from his uncle, first built the Charley Cottle house. He married a daughter of Old Tommy Lee. He was Captain of Militia before the war, and was William Stewart's oldest son, being born about 18171 or 1818. His children in order of age were: Madison, Taylor, Nancy Jane, Molly and Bet. The latter married a Union Colonel. All went west after the war.
There were no other houses in the village except one, so far as I remember, and it was probably not built until the spring of 1872.
When the road left the pike at the bridge, it followed the creek bank to the narrows below town. Along the edge of the creek at the lower end of this stretch stood a row of magnificent American elm trees, their thick heavy tops leaning out until they reached half way across the stream, the long limbs drooping nearly to the surface of the current.
These trees stood a rod from the road and down a sloping bank, which was several feet high. When a flood came, the water would sometimes reach a depth of three feet around their trunks. When the water was low under their shade was a favorite work place for the washer women of the lower end of the village. The roots at their base were much used in the spring of the year as a perch for boys engaged in fishing.
Such was Reedy when I first knew it, but changes soon come even to sleep country villages. In the spring of 1874, Callison sold his store and hotel to James Trim of Burning Springs, I think, and moved to Ravenswood where he went into business on lower Sand Street.
Trim did not stay very long, however, he lost heavily in the stave business, partly through the flood of the 26th of July. He sold out all his property in Reedy to Brown Gibbs of Reedyville. David Fulkreth was his manager in the store.
Gibbs kept the store and hotel several years; then he turned the business over to J.W. Ball, who had come from Burning Springs and had been living for about fifteen years on the Ben Riddle farm on Left Reedy.
This was the sort of four way deal, in which Ball got the property at Reedy, S.B. Ball got Major Ball's farm, Rezin Cain got S.B. Ball's old farm, and Gibbs the Cain place.
William Woodyard, who kept the branch store and post office in the old C.M. Boggs building, with Web. Chapman as his business manager, removed his goods to the Spencer store some time during the spring of 1872, and the post office went to Alf Cain.
About 1874, H.M. Flesher came to Reedy and bought the lot and put a store in the old building which stood a very little below Theodore Staats' building and a little back from the street. He built a large two story frame house on the corner of the lot, with a store room down stairs, the largest and best furnished in Reedy up to that time.
His brother in law, Hugh Sayre, son of Thomas Sayre, and a descendant of David Sayre, the pioneer of Mill Creek, taught the Reedy school during the wineter of 1874-1875. He was clerk in the store for a long time.
Later the store was sold to Jonathan Depue, who kept the place until its destruction by fire in 1895.
The stores of Theodore Staats and Andrew Alderman each occupy a part of the site of the Flesher building.
The way back to William Stewart's residence was, if my memory is correct, immediately above this lot.
Another early mercantile establishment was that of David Seaman, and was kept in the lower story of the old building opposite Ledsome Brothers store, which had been built about the summer of 1875 by David Stewart, a son of Andrew Stewart, now an M.D. in Creston, The upper story of the building was used by Reedy Lodge, A.F. & A.M., as a hall.
Arrangements were made with Mr. Seaman by the Chestnut Grove and other Granges to sell goods to that society at a profit of ten per cent on cost. The arrangement did not accomplish much in the matter of cheapening goods. The Seaman store was not continued for more than a year or so.
It was April 20, 1877, that a young man named George W. Carter, a brother of David Seaman's wife, from about Cottageville, having taught school for some years and taken a course in medicine, came to Reedy to hang out his shingle.
He has long been the leading physician of the village. His father, John Carter, married Jane Boswell, in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and came to Mill Creek in Jackson County.
Perhaps I should mention here a little store kept by the old man Rowan, about three miles up the Middle Fork, in 1872. This establishment consisted of perhaps twenty five dollars worth of notions, and was kept on some shelves along the wall of the old log smokehouse at the Charley Roach farm, where Robert Moss now resides.
The building now occupied by Watts & Rader on the bank of the creek opposite John Bishop's, was built about 1833 by S.B. Seaman and D.J. McClung for use as a dry good and grocery store.
The George Chenoweth store building was erected by Jordan McMillan in 1889, and occupied as a general store first by McMillan Brothers in 1890, and by Brown in 1893.
There was a little old house (occupied by Dr. Dearman in 1911) standing opposite the Cottle Furniture Store in the upper end of the village. It was used for selling goods by Al Ott about 1893. N.L. Ledsome moved his store from Cain's Run to Reedy and occupied this building. Ledsome married Belle McCutcheon in 1884.
The hotel kept by A. Callison in 1872 has been there for several years. J.W. Cain, Sr., kept hotel here in 1852. Dempsey Flesher, Sr., kept it at that stand about 1860.
The next hotel, as far as I have been able to ascertain, is the one erected by William P. Stewart on his lot, which is now owned by George Goad. It was burned in the fire of the night of May 2, 1890, and never rebuilt.
Mr. Stewart is a son of John Stewart and nephew of William Stewart, who lived on the Carter hill from the earliest settlement until his death. Mr. Stewart is the only man now living in Reedy who was a resident of the place in 1872, unless there be some who were children at that time.
There are two women yet in the village (1906). Mrs. Barbara Stewart, widow of the late Andrew Stewart, and daughter of Andrew Westfall. Barbara Westfall Stewart was born May 26, 1826, and first came to Reedy as the wife of Andrew Stewart in 1843. The other is Mrs. Minerva Cottle, who is a daughter of Old Billy Stewart. She married the late C.W. Cottle, and lives in the house on the point above the old mill dam.
The village of Reedy was incorporated March 30, 1894. The first mayor was C.W Cottle.
The population of Reedy, by close estimate, was in 1890, one hundred and eighty five. According to the report of the United States Census in 1900, the population was three hundred, or one hundred and thirty less than Spencer had in 1890.
The oldest minutes I found preserved were for March 7, 1901. The oldest tax list I found was for 1903. The town levy was then sixty cents, and the total taxes were $366,20. In 1914, the levy was thirty five cents.
Since the early days of Reedy, much has been done in the way of public improvement. Substantial boardwalks have been laid along one or both side of the streets, and the main thoroughfare has been rocked from the depot to the bridge, so that the odious batter sometimes twelve or fifteen inches deep, which periodically presented itself in the street, is a thing of the past.
Most of the houses along the low grounds of Main Street have been raised on pillars until they now stand three to five feet above ground. The water, even in the highest flood, now seldom gets up far enough into the buildings to do much serious damage.
The main business portion of Reedy, consisting of a long row of houses extending for about one hundred and ten rods along the Ravenswood and Spencer pike, is now known as Main Street.
There are along this street two hotels, one bank, seven dry goods, general and grocery stores, two furniture stores, and undertaking establishment, a drug store, two doctors offices, the central office of the Citizens Telephone Company, one photograph gallery, a hardware store, a millinery store, a livery stable, a harness shop, a blacksmith's shop, two barber shops, two watch repair establishments. A produce store, a restaurant and grocery store, a meat market, one of the three churches, a graded school building, the depot and railroad grounds of the R.S.&G. Railroad, and twenty nine residences.
Back from this street, together with other residences, there are the other two churches and a planing mill.
Along the roads leading up the different streams are a number of residences. And on the little bottom beyond the bridge is the Reedy roller mill, built in 1891, and doing a good business since that time. The mill was first built by the Reedy Mill Company (Taylor Hill, John Kiser, and others). It was a bohr mill to grind both wheat and corn, but in 1896 the proprietors took out the machinery and equipped it with a complete set of rolls. The mill has a capacity of forty five barrels a day, and manufactures as good flour as any in this section of the state.
Back on a little elevation several rods from the street is the residence of Dr. George W. Carter. This is on the site of the residence of the late William Stewart, and overlooks the whole village and valley.
Across a little gully which lies beyond the last houses of the upland addition lies the public burial ground of the village. The most of its surface is too rolling to be suitable for cemetery purposes, and quite a little hollow runs down through the side of the lot.
As was the custom of our forefathers, a number of beech trees, a part of the original forest, were left standing scattered over the ground, but the prevailing fashion of today has been to cut away all shade, and weeds and briars which would not have grown among the trees have run riot everywhere.
Fortunately, however, the blue myrtle, that dear old fashioned flower our grandmothers loved so well and planted long years ago upon the graves of their children has gotten beyond control and literally carpets the ground with green and blue in the older quarter.
This is not the original burying ground of the colony, which was situated about three miles up the right hand fork, but was established perhaps as early as the Thirties.
On the end of the point below this stand two residences, the lower one of these an old hewed log house of the middle period, which has recently been revised and enlarged and clothes with plank and paint and fashioned into a farm house, elegant, substantial and comfortable. This is the dwelling of Mr. W.P. Stewart, whom the relentless hand of time, moving over the chessboard of life, is fast shoving into the position of patriarch of the village.
Return to Index Home
Reedy Colony Pioneer Families their Manners and Customs
The first settler in the Reedy colony was Patrick Bord. According to the generally received account, he was of Holland Dutch descent, and lived in Green County, Pennsylvania, before coming to Reedy. The date of his coming was either the fall of 1815 of very early in 1816, which is the year commonly given.
His wife was Polly Keyser, a German woman. They were married at York, Pa.
He was born in 1750, and some accounts say, was a soldier in the American Army in the Revolutionary War, which is quite reasonable as many young men of that time were.
At some time, date not given, he was employed by Samuel Coe to blast away some rock for the erection of a mill dam at the mouth of Reedy Creek, now Palestine. Owning to the premature explosion of a blast, he was severely injured, having one arm broken and his wrist so torn and lacerated that the joint remained stiff until his death.
An account, not substantiated, says he was wounded in the war. All agree that he was a cripple in one arm and wrist.
When the Bords came to Reedy he built a half face pole shanty at the narrows where a pine tree used to stand, a short distance up the Ravenswood pike from the forks of the right hand fork. The house was built of poles such as two men could handle, and stood in the bottom just where the creek first crosses to the right hand hill. It is said that there are still rocks lying where the chimney stood.
In this shanty there was born on the 24th of March, 1816, his youngest child, William K. Bord, the first white child born in Reedy District.
The Bords lived here, just how long is not known, but it was probably two or three years, before he built a more pretentious cabin, though still a rude humble affair. The site of this cabin was on a little point which ran down from the hill into the bottom at the upper end of the Sandy Bord farm.
The lower end of the point was cut off in building the railroad, and the upper end by the pike. The cabin stood somewhere between the two. Later a hewed log house at nearly the same spot replaced it. Probably it was the old house which stood there when I first knew the country in 1872.
Some time after moving to this place, Bord planted an orchard around his house. Two of the trees were standing until the spring of 1904, when they were cut down.
When Patrick Bord first came to Reedy, he patented three hundred acres. Although there is a diversity of statement about the amount of land Patrick Bord owned, varying from 300 to 9000, there can be no doubt as to the original Bord farm being 300 acres, and that it was patented by him. The deed books at Ripley show this fact. No record of Patrick Bord owning but 100 acres is to be found in the records at the Wood County Court House. Just what the boundaries of the 300 acres were or how much of the Seaman Fork bottom it included, I have been unable to ascertain. Probably it was surveyed to conform with the streams, leaving the hill lands for hunting grounds. There is little doubt that the same land was covered by other patents.
The Seaman land, where John Candler now lives, the Sandy Bord farm, and the S.B. Seaman farm, for some distance up each branch, were included in the Bord survey. He may have bought other land adjoining, afterward.
He sold a part of the lower end of his farm to David seaman, who came to Reedy about 1822. On May 26, 1832, he sold a portion of the survey to S.B. Seaman, who resold it December 10, 1833, to Joseph Bord, making him a quit claim deed. On January 27, 1834, Joseph Bord made a deed for the land to his son, Thomas Bord, Jr. There were 100 acres in this tract. The deeds are on record at Ripley, and are both witnessed by William Sheppard and Thomas Cain. The quit claim sale was only nominal, the consideration being but one dollar.
Patrick Bord's wife, Mary Keyser, was born near Little York, Pennsylvania, about 1771, and lived to be nearly eighty nine years old. She died in 1859, at Thomas Bord's on Mill Creek.
She was of German descent, and could speak that language and probably read and write it also. It is said that she had an impediment of speech, which has been handed down to the present generation. Two of her sons had it, and several of the descendants of other families into which the Bords married.
Polly Keyser was a child when her husband was grown, and he used, it is said, to take her on his knee and pet her, calling her his little wife and sweetheart. Twenty years later they were married.
The Bords lived at the old house above "Doc" Bord's until about 1832 ir near that date. He was living there when the late A.B. Chancey was quite a small lad. (Say in 1829 or 1830.) Chancey once told me he remembered being there and picking up apples and turning a windmill when he had to stand on a half bushel to reach the crank.
He afterward bought the Ellison Burdett near Reedyville of James Daylong, which he conveyed to his son Joseph by title bond on January 27, 1834. Thomas Cain and Absalom Full were the witnesses to this contract.
Joe Board had probably been living with his father some years before they moved to the Reedyville neighborhood.
Jeff Bord says that his grandfather and Uncle Joe lived on the Ellison Burdett farm at the mouth of Tucker's Run when the former died in 1839. This may have been the Daylong farm, which contained one hundred and twenty acres.
Patrick Bord had a sister, Elizabeth, who married David Seaman and moved to the Reedy Colony about 1822 or 1824. (Accounts differ.)
A brother, Reuben Bord, lived in Barbour County on the Valley River above Philippi, at a little place called Jerusalem.
Such is the commonly received opinion, though Mr. Jeff Bord says on this subject, "John Bord, living seven miles above Philippi, Reuben Bord, about Philippi, and George Bord of Woodstock, are all cousins of Patrick Bord.
He said, and the reader will note the variance with the previously given account, "Patrick Bord and a brother, Harry, came from Scotland to America, where, in the War of Independence he was a soldier and served seven years in the standing army. After the Revolution, they brought their sister over from Scotland, and about 1822 or 1923 Patrick gave her 200 acres of land to get her to come and live with him on Reedy.
"Patrick married Mary Keyser at the close of the Revolutionary War near the city of York, where he had a little homestead. This he traded for property at Fredericksburg and traced that for land at Harper's Ferry. He stayed there a while, then traded for land at Romney, where he lived a few years and then again traded for a boundary of 9000 acres on Reedy.
"The Bords were all ‘chunky' men, all were Roman nosed, and all talked alike. Harry Bord lived at Charleston. He was five feet, ten inches high, weighed one hundred and seventy pounds, and his hands reached below his knees. Patrick Bord came directly from Romney to Reedy."
Jeff Bord also said after his grandfather came to Reedy, and old man named Owens, father of Harry, George and Willis Owens, proposed that if he had the rocks blasted to put in a dam he would put in a mill at the mouth of Reedy.
Bord being an expert in rock work, took the job. He put in a blast and laid a train of powder and was, with a long iron needle, picking some way at the hole when the powder caught the blast and it let go, driving through his wrist, tearing his hand and rendering it helpless. However it being his left hand, he was still able to do a great deal of work, and had been known to cut and split one hundred rails in a day.
He said Patrick Bord "was in knowledge of a lead mine" in the southwest bank of the creek a little ways up right Sandy Creek above Sandyville. It is about two feet under water now.
The name Bord, it is said, used to be spelled "Boord", and is Holland Dutch. I deem this to be the best substantiated and most probably correct of the two accounts. The Seamans, Cains, Stewarts and Horners, who all came from either Greene or Monongalia Counties, were intimately associated and connected with the Bords before their removal to Reedy, and probably knew their family history.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Patrick Bord was born in 1750 and died in 1839, at the age of eighty nine years. He married Mary Keyser. She was born in 1770 and died in 1859, lacking a few days of being eighty nine years old. Both are buried at Mt. Olive graveyard.
As proof of Bord's Revolutionary War service, he drew a pension as a Revolutionary soldier.
Their children were: (Not given in order of age.)
Joseph Bord married Peggy Horner.
Thomas Bord married Sarah Harpold.
Andrew Bord married Margaret Ott. (Sister of ‘Dillas Ott.)
John Bord married Nancy Parsons. (Widow of John Casto)
William Keyser Bord.
Mary Bord married William Stewart.
George Bord married Elizabeth Sayre.
Elizabeth Bord married a Clark.
Nancy Bord married Thomas King.
Joe Bord married Peggy Horner, a sister of Thomas Cain's wife. Probably he was married when he came to Reedy, though it is uncertain if he came when his father did. If he did not, he came soon after.
He made the first improvement at the Candler place, building a half face pole shanty a little up the point from Candler's barn in what is now the orchard.
In this pole shanty "North Carolina" Tom Bord, his oldest child was born. He next built a split log cabin some place near the creek and railroad not far from Candler's Crossing. The second son, "Sandy" Bord, was born in the split log cabin by the creek, in December 1817.
Joe Bord was living at the mouth of Little creek at the Knopp place, about the year 1823. Later, he lived on his father's farm on the Ravenswood road near Reedy; and then on the Ellison Burdett farm below Reedyville. Some time after 1834 he moved to Ohio and lived and died a few miles back of Gallipolis.
Margaret Horner Bord died March 27, 1878, aged almost eighty three years. She is buried at the private cemetery at "Doc" Bord's. Their children were:
Thomas Bord married Betsy Baker. He lived just below Seamantown on Green Run and at the old Patrick Bord homestead. W.B. Bord of Mill Creek, his son, married Mary Rader, who was born in 1837. Henry Bord, another son, married Sarah Elizabeth, daughter of James Rader, born 1849; died 1875. Van Bord was another son.
Alexander S. (Sandy) Bord was born December 12, 1817, and died March 22, 1880. His funeral was preached at Flesher Chapel by Elder Dountain. He married Betsy Miller, daughter of Sam Miller, as his first wife; later he married Nancy Hardman, daughter of Thomas Hardman. She was killed in a sugar camp by a falling limb; his third wife was Becca Stutler. He had a son, Tom Bord, who died April 14, 1870, at the age of twenty seven years.
Susan Bord married William Corbett, son of James and Elizabeth Rockhold Corbett of Beaver Dam, and brother of Alf Cain's wife. They moved to Kentucky. She later married the second time a McBreen.
Evaline Bord married David Conrad and moved to Ohio.
Gamaliel Bord married Will Cain's widow, a daughter of Elijah Burdett.
Katy Bord married first, James Lester; second, a Sackman.
Gamaliel and Katy Bord were twins. J
ohn Bord married Nancy Parsons, sister of Levi and others. She was the widow of John Casto, and had one child, a daughter, who married Jim Rhodes, and lived on Frozen Camp.
John Bord was born about 1804 and died in 1875. He died suddenly while piling brush in a heap. His wife died the day Lee surrendered to General Grant, April 9, 1865.
He lived at the "old improvement" on Little Creek, moving there about 1827, and leaving in 1829. He left because the hazel roots were "so bad a man couldn't work among them."
Second growth timber growing around the site of the old cabin and cut in 1901, showed seventy and seventy two rings (about 1829 or 1830.
From Little Creek he moved to Bord run; next to Big Run, and then later to a large tract of land on the right fork of Frozen Camp. He served as Justice of the Peace.
It was related that when Bord became Justice he got into a big sycamore gum and had his wife "call court". Upon the success of which proceeding she exclaimed, "There ain't any Squires but me and you, Pap."
John and Nancy Bord's children were:
Polly Bord married a Boyd.
Charles Bord married Agnes, daughter of Abe Litton. They had a son, Dave Bord.
Patrick Bord was "well-to-do." He lived in Greary
District, had two sons, John and Joe.
William Bord married first a Waybright; second, a Hess. They had three children.
Miles Bord married Elizabeth Bradley.
Margaret married Matthew Cobb.
Mahala married Hiram Cobb. The Cobbs were brothers who lived on Bear Fork.
Andrew Bord married Margaret Ott, April 21, 1829. She was a sister of Dillas Ott. Andrew Bord is supposed to have made the first improvement where S.B. Seaman lived. In 1838, he moved to Lynn Camp; then to the "Doc" Bord farm; and one year later, took a lease of William Stewart and built the cabin where the Reedy mill stands.
After about seven years (in 1845) his wife died, and he broke up housekeeping. He afterward married Polly Dye, a sister of Dusossaway Dye. They lived on Cain's Run, and for two years on Two Run. He then bought on Chestnut Run, and sold in the oil excitement of 1865 and went to Mason County, where he died.
Andrew Bord was a Whig; later a Republican. He was for many years a cripple, walking with a crutch. He was a Baptist, and founder of the Bord - now Oldtown - Baptist Church near Letart.
Andy Bord was born near Morgantown, February 28, 1799, and died March 10, 1885, aged eighty six years. Margaret Ott Bord was born in 1801 and died in 1845. He was married the third time to Jane Beverlin. His children were:
By his first wife:
James Bord married Martha Ellen Pickerell. She was born in 1830 and died in 1908.
Andrew Jackson Bord was in Company "B" 11th W. Va.
George Washington Bord was born in 1832 (was in the same regiment.)
Susan Bord married Gilmore H. Dye.
Drusanna Bord married John W. Thorne.
Mary Elizabeth bord born 1833.
Margaret Matilda Born born in 1835.
Nancy Catherine Bord born in 1837.
By his second wife:
Sarah Josephine Bord born in 1848.
Lucinda Isabelle Bord born in 1852.
Thomas Wesley Bord born in 1854.
William Wheaton Bord born in 1856.
By his third wife:
Martha Ellen Born born in 1864.
David Bord went down about Gallipolis and married there. He and George were shoemakers. He lived on Coon Creek, back of Gallipolis.
Thomas Bord married Sarah Harpold. He lived for a time on the Keenan farm on Mill Creek. He was a blacksmith and gunsmith, and made a flying machine, it is said, with which he flew from one hill to the other, over Ripley (?). He also spent much time working at the "perpetual motion" problem.
He moved to Kentucky, and died there. The name of "Fact Tom" was applied to him to distinguish him from Joe Bord's son, who, because of making trips to North Carolina with horses, which he sold there, was known as "North Carolina" Tom.
George Bord married Betsy Sayre (according to the account of Rev. Benny Bord). The Parsons' genealogical record states the George Bord married Betsy Parsons, a daughter of George Parsons, who lived on the Petty farm at Reedyville.
George Bord lived for a time on Mill Creek, opposite the Hyre farm, and then moved to Missouri. He died from lockjaw, resulting from mashing his thumb against the jamb rock while putting on a backlog. He is described ad a "good man and a good talker." He was a shoemaker by trade. Their children were:
Ballard Bord married Jane Johnson.
Abe Bord married Milly Hall.
Susan Bord married Sam Starcher.
Mazilla Bord married William Starcher; then Peter Rhodes.
Another daughter married N.U. Crites.
Nancy Bord married Thomas King. She lived down in Wirt County. I did not ascertain just where. She had several children, Tom King and Jim King and two daughters.
Her husband may have been a son of Rev. Laurence King, who organized the first Baptist church on Reedy, in 1822.
William K. Bord married Zilpha Smith. He was born Marcy 24, 1816 and died January 23, 1895. W.K. Bord was the first white child born in Reedy. His wife was a daughter of Aaron Smith of Ritchie County, and a sister of Jacob C. Smith's wife.
They lived on the Mordecai Thomasson farm below Reedyville, when his wife died. Their children were:
Jeff Bord born in 1840; married Mahala Murray in 1859.
Sarah Bord born in 1843; married Alf Berry.
Catherine Bord, born in 1845, married Albert Gough.
Mary E. Bord, born in 1847; married George Stewart.
Susan Dorcas Bord married David Smith on the Kanawha River.
Afterward, William K. Bord married Nancy Flesher, a daughter of Dempsey Flesher. She was born May 17, 1831. They had a family of eleven children.
Mrs. Bord, who was the first person I visited for the purpose of obtaining notes for this history, was in the fall of 1903, a lively cheerful old lady and, like most old people, glad to tell of pioneer times.
When she can remember, say about 1836 or 1837, the neighbors were the Bords, Cains, Stewarts, Seamans, Conrads, Bakers, Boggess, etc. When her father came to Reedy she was about three years old and, she says, was carried between two feather ticks on a pack horse. This would make the date of Dempsey Flesher coming to Reedy about 1834 or 1835 instead of 1837, as others put it.
A child six years old would scarely have been packed in the manner given, but one of four or even five might. My conclusion is that probably 1835 or 1836 would be more nearly correct.
Her first school teacher was Doctor Wesley Baker, who taught in an old house at the mouth of Conrad's Run. It had the usual fittings of greased pane windows, split poles for seats, weight pole roof and wide gaping fireplace.
Her schoolmates were John and Elizabeth Baker, Peyton and Asa Goff, Sally and Marion Conrad, and others. The date she places at 1839 or 1840, but the Goffs did not come to Reedy until 1842. Quite likely she was older when the school was taught.
On September 2, 1934, I met a man they called "Old Jack Bord." He lives on Limestone Ridge beyond the Emerick farm, a few miles. He came to Wood County from Marion County about fifty years ago. Jack Bord of Garfield was some kind of cousn to him. His daughter married the son of John P. Campbell who lived on the hill on South Side (Parkersburg). I saw Campbell and his wife, but did not talk with them.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
The next man to come to the Reedy settlement after Patrick Bord, who came in 1815, was William Stewart. His father lived in Greene County, Pennsylvania, near the Virginia line, and is said to have been well-to-do. He had two brothers who had moved west and were living in central Ohio.
William, so the story goes, had fallen in love with Polly Bord, but the match was opposed by his family. Bord went down the river in 1815 or 1816, and William, being dissatisfied with the home life, his father gave him some money and he started out in search of adventure and fortune. Ostensibly, he was going to his uncles on the Scioto, really however, he went down to see his sweetheart at Reedy, and about the spring of 1816, they were married. The money was utilized in making a payment on a piece of land which included the site of the village of Reedy.
His humble cabin, built on the elevation occupied by Dr. Carter's residence, was the first building site in this vicinity. The elevation consists of a sort of island standing out in a wide bottom. It is abrupt in ascent on the front and lower sides, and slopes gradually down tot he bottom in the rear. There may be four acres in its area, and Dr. Carter advances the theory that the whole mass was launched from the hill beyond and deposited in the bottom by some colossal prehistoric landslide. He says that before the marks were effaced by cultivation, the face of the bank in front lay in laps and folds above the rocks.
This bank may once have been the margin of a stream.
William Stewart's cabin was the second in the colony, the narrative of his coming may be more or less fanciful, but the fact is well established that he followed Bord, married the daughter about 1816, and bought and moved on the Reedy land not far from that date, continuing to live there until his death, October 1877.
Charles Stewart, the founder of the Stewart family which came to Reedy, though not the pioneer (since William came before his father did) first came to Reedy, say some accounts, in 1822. However, my impression is that the date of the event was a few years earlier. There seems to be no date to fix it exactly. I base my opinion on the following: He sold land on the Little Kanawha joining Beauchamp to I. Enochs, September 28, 1825.
He had lived a few years at Palestine, across the river from the mouth of Reedy. He bought land of Enochs. It is said, including the valley of the left hand fork up as far as the mouth of Malcolm Run. The boundary is not given; it may or may not have been covered by the Clayborne Morlan tract.
Charles Stewart built his house on the top of the bluff, across from the Col. Roberts home, and built a mill on the opposite side of the creek in the bottom. He and his son, Robert, maintained a tub grist mill at this site for several years.
Charles Stewart came across the ocean, probably when young. It is said the vessel was six months in the passage. He lived in Greene County, Pennsylvania, and Monongalia County, Virginia. He was married to Virginia Stewart, who was his cousin. The were of Scotch-Irish descent.
Charles Stewart and his wife were buried in the old graveyard above John Seaman's. He died, says W.P. Stewart, about 1835 or 1836, and his wife a little later.
His father came from Ireland, probably when Charles was small. He and two brothers landed at Philadelphia. He came to Morgantown, and owned the land on which the fort at Morgantown stood. He cut down the timber on a piece of land in the river bottom, and planted and tended a crop of corn among the logs with his hoe.
Mr. W.P. Stewart states that his remembrance of the family tradition is that Charles Stewart came to Palestine from seven miles below Morgantown on the Monongalia river.
Charles and "Jinny" Stewart's family were:
William married Polly Bord.
Robert never married.
John married Lucinda Knopp.
Sally married John Wine.
Isabella married Henry Blosser.
Elizabeth married John Seaman.
William Stewart was born in Greene County, Pennsylvania, June 23, 1790. He married Polly Bord, May 23, 1816, and died at Reedy, October 4, 1877, at the age of eighty seven years. His wife, Polly Bord Stewart, died on the day before Christmas, in 1866. She was also a native of Greene County, Pennsylvania, and was born October 20, 1792.
They had a family of five sons and six daughters.
John W. Stewart, the oldest son, was a small man. He was Captain of Militia before the war. He built the first house on the point where the late Charles W. Cottle lived. He married a daughter of Old Tommy Lee. Mat and Taylor Stewart were his sons. Nancy Jane and Bet were daughters. The family moved west soon after the war.
Andrew Stewart was born on March 31, 1822, and died June 23, 1898. He married Barbara Westfall, May 26, 1843. She was born August 26, 1826, and is still living at the age of eighty one years. Andrew was a miller and wagon maker. He built the old mill in September, 1853.
Alfred Stewart was another son. He was born about 1824. He married Elizabeth Sheppard, a daughter of Col. William Sheppard of Right Reedy. He lived, or at least owned land, on Cain's Run, where Daniel Ledsome now lives. In 1846, he appears to have lived about his father-in-law's place. The last years of his life he had a cobbler shop in Reedy.
Joseph Stewart was born in Reedy in May, 1820. His wife was a daughter of Salathiel Goff, who moved to the Dye farm in 1842. They were married in 1845, and settled above town where Mr. W.P. Stewart now lives. After the war he sold his farm to his brother-in-law, John A. Goff, and then owned the Col. Roberts farm; and he moved to the head of the run at the first place above where Peyton Stewart now lives. He was living there in 1872, and was the first citizen of Reedy whom I saw. He overtook our teams about Duncan or Leroy while on his way home from Ravenswood, as we were moving to Reedy the evening of February 8, 1872. He died November 15, 1879, aged fifty nine years. His wife was bon in 1827, and died in 1886.
William Bee Stewart was a Forty-niner and went to California in the gold boom and never returned.
Bet Stewart married John G. Goff. She died of heart disease the night of March 13, 1886.
Nancy Stewart married Gideon Knopp, a son of George Knopp, and settled on the latter's farm on Mill Creek. After his death in 1858 she remarried. Her husband was a McGinty, and in her old age she was again married, this time of Alf Cain. She was one of the oldest of the Stewart children.
Mary Stewart married the late A.B. Chancey. She was born September 7, 1828, and died on the night of April 17, 1884.
Susan Stewart married Col. T.A. Roberts as his second wife, in 1852.
Sarah Jane Stewart married Charles M. Boggs. She was born in 1839.
Minerva Stewart married Charles W. Cottle. She was born in 1836.
Robert Stewart, another son of Charles & Virginia Stewart, was associated with his father in his milling operations. He was born about 1791 or 1793, and died in 1873 or 1875. I could not make out which from the rudely carved figures on the flag rock headstone. His age at his death was eighty two years.
He was a soldier in the War of 1812, and owned one hundred acres of land where E.V. Smith lives, on Left Reedy. Someone said he got this land for carrying chain in surveying. This was probably re-surveying Clayborne and Morlan land. This land he sold to John Wine, his brother in law. The other twenty acres beyond the creek was sold to his brother, John Stewart.
Sally, a daughter of Charles and Virginia Stewart, married John E. Wine, whose mother died on the Smith farm about 1842, and was buried by the side of the little stream that comes down by the house. John E. Wine was a son of Susan Wine, who came to Reedy before 1822. She came with her family from Greene or Monongalia County. Susan Wine was a member of the Good Hope Church, organized in 1822. She had three sons, John, Alec and Travis.
John E. Wine made the first improvement on the John Flesher place. They were married October 24, 1824, by Rev. Laurance King. Their children were: Charles and Rich.
Isabella Stewart married Henry Blosser. Nothing is given of the previous history of the Blossers. The late A.L. Vandale once said that they came about the time of the War of 1812, and I have found nothing else relating to the matter.
Probably he came to Reedy from the Monongahela county. In 1833 he lived at the old Stewart house on the bank above the first mill. Before that, he lived just below Seamantown on the Jim Seaman farm.
Before he set up a blacksmith shop at Reedy, the people had to go to Elizabeth to get work done. Mr. Chancey said he got coal for his shop on the Middle Fork, carrying it in a sack on his back.
Henry and Isabella Stewart Blosser's children were:
Tilly Blosser marred Old Neddy Greathouse.
Robert Blosser married Jane Stewart. She was a sister of Dempsey Flesher's and Jeff Bord's wives. He was married a second time to Susan Murray.
Ike Blosser married Margaret Hicks. (Charity)
John Blosser married Polly, daughter of Philip Starcher, and lived about the West Fork.
Isabelle Blosser married Ike Starcher, and lived on Spring Creek, below Spencer.
Jane Blosser married Peter Conrad, she being his second wife.
Elizabeth Stewart married John Seaman, the oldest son of David Seaman, as his second wife.
John Stewart was a son of Charles and Virginia Stewart. He married Lucinda Knopp, a daughter of George Knopp, who lived at the mouth of Little Creek, about 1833.
As previously mentioned, the Stewarts bought a large tract of land on the Left Fork of Reedy. John Stewart made the first improvement on the Ben Riddle, now S.B. Ball farm. He built a little cabin down in the bottom, before his marriage. (He may have bought the Enochs 1200 acres, but there is no record.) He bought 150 acres of Enoch, September 28, 1825. It extended down the creek below Boggs line.
John Stewart made the first improvement at the old Duke farm. This was about 1831 or 1832. He sold the land (100 acres) to Willit Seaman, and Seaman sold it to George Knopp. In 1835, Stewart was living at the Raleigh Kyger farm, and died there about 1848 or 1849.
After his death his widow lived at the Samuel Hall place on Little Creek and at the George Knopp house below the mouth of Buffalo.
John and Lucinda Stewart's children were:
William P. Stewart born September 21, 1834, died in 1911.
Alec Stewart born in 1836, died July 1916.
George Stewart married Mary Ellen Bord.
There was another Charles Stewart, who came from the same section as the Bords, Stewarts, and Seamans. He is said to have been a small, sickly man. The date of his immigration is not known, but it was probably not long after the other family came. He was a relative, some say a brother of Mrs. Virginia Stewart. He made the first improvement where Milt Seaman now lives. He built a cabin and cleared a little "patch" of ground, when he was taken sick and died. This was the first death recorded in the little colony, and his was the first grave in the old Seaman graveyard.
He was married before coming to Reedy. After his death, his wfie lived a few years in the cabin and tried to maintain her little family of children. The stream where she lived was known as "Widder's Run."
She pulled up the old stalks in her corn patch, and planed her corn in the earth thus loosened, covering it and tending it with a hoe. Thus, with some assistance from her neighbors, she managed to eke out a scanty existence for a few years.
She married, as a second husband, a man by the name of McDade, and moved to Parchment.
One of her sons, William Stewart, married Mary, daughter of Adam Parsons, who lived at Salt Hill. George and John Stewart, late of Parchment, were also sons of "Little Charley". Elisha was the name of the fourth son. Elisha and John married Coons. The George Stewart mentioned above married Massy Stout, and it was his daughters who were the wives of Charley Casto and Henry Brown.
Hensley Stewart was a Baptist preacher on Reedy. He was related to the Stewarts. Some say he was a brother of Charles Sr.'s wife, but probably he was not so closely related. Lemuel Stewart, a saw mill man of Reedy, Sandy and Pond Creek, was his son. Lemuel Stewart was commonly known as "Beeky". I saw him as late as 1902 or 1903, and he was then an old man.
William H. Wren Fitzwhylson, a picturesque character frequently seen around Reedy, was born in Richmond in 1838. He came to Reedy in 1867; went west in 1870; and came back to Reedy several years later.
He married a daughter of John Stewart (either Senior or Junior) when he was first at Reedy. "Wren Fitz" he was familiarly called.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
The Seaman Family
David Seaman was born June 14, 1768; died June 18, 1859.
Elizabeth Seaman was born March 29, 1774; died June 15, 1864.
David Seaman married Betsy Bord, April 14, 1796.
John Seaman, born January 20, 1797.
Susannah Seaman, born May 3, 1799.
Thomas Seaman, born May 10, 1802.
Silas B Seaman, born April 7, 1805.
Ann Elizabeth Seaman, born November 17, 1807.
Willit Allen Seaman, born December 14, 1810.
George Vigo Seaman, born February 28, 1813.
The above is copied from the old Seaman Family record, a part of which was said to have been written in the old family Bible, in 1790.
David Seaman came from near Morgantown to Reedy in 1822, if one account be correct, or in 1824, by another report. My opinion is that the earlier date is more nearly correct.
David Seaman is said by some to have come from Greene County, Pennsylvania; by others, from Monongalia County, Virginia. Susanna, the second child, was born in Virginia. He, like the Stewarts, may have lived at different times on each side of Mason and Dixon's Line. The settlement was practically the same, though divided by the state line.
When he came to Reedy, he bought a piece of land of Patrick Bord, and built is cabin in the bottom west of the little stream where John Candler's residence now is, not far from the bank on the spot now occupied by Candler's garden.
Joe Bord had built a half face pole shanty on the raised ground above in what is now Mr. Candler's orchard, and lived there a year or so. Jeff Bord says there was an old sugar camp there.
John Bord and "Big Ike" Lockhart whipsawed the plank for the upper floor of the Seaman cabin. Seaman's house was long a regular preaching place on the M.E. circuit, which included Elizabeth, Reedy, Sandyville, Spencer, Ripley and Palestine.
John Seaman, the oldest child of David and Mary Seaman, was born January 20, 1797. He came with his father's family to Reedy.
He married one of the Stewart girls, Elizabeth, or Betsy as she was commonly called. The old records in the Clerk's office at Parkersburg show that Laurence King, on August 19, 1824, married John "Semmons" and Elizabeth Stewart. On the 21st of the following October, he performed a like service for John Wine and Sarah Stewart.
John Seaman lived at different places in the vicinity. It is said he built a split log cabin about the forks of the Right Hand Fork, and probably below the mouth of Coon Run at Hamric's, where he was living at the time of the June flood, about 1835. (Probably a local freshet.)
It is related how he saved his grain at the Stewart mill that night, or in some other high water of the early days. George Seaman got in a large storage trough for sugar water, and paddled around over the low ground around the house where Candler's garden now is. The boat, becoming unmanageable, John got in with him, but they could not control the unwieldy craft against the current, and had to spring out into the creek and let the trough go.
John Seaman lived at one time not far from where the lane comes down from the creek at the mouth of Coon's Run. Some say Joe Bord built this house. S.B. Seaman lived there for a time, when he was first married, before building the log house below the forks of the creek, where he died. Seaman lived at the Hamric farm when his wife died, about 1835 or 1840. She was buried in the Seaman graveyard. John and Elizabeth's children were:
Jane Seaman, who was raised by her grandfather Seaman after her mother's death, until she was about fifteen, when she went to live with her half sister, Harriet Dulin, who lived about the Kanawha salt works. She married James Masters.
Two other children died when small.
John Seaman married as a second wife, Catherine Ott, a daughter of Fidillas Ott. Their children were:
Martha married Wes Buffington at Burning Springs. She was a connection of the Pond Creek Buffingtons.
Jesse Pryor married in Ohio.
Violetta never married.
Ephraim Thomas married in Ohio.
Elizabeth married an Osborne, near Savannah, Ohio.
John Seaman and many of his family moved to Savannah Creek on the Big Hocking River in Ohio.
Susannah Seaman was born May 3, 1799; according to the family record, but not until May 3, 1801, by the inscription on her tombstone at the Ripley graveyard. She died January 12, 1878. She was married to Moses Doolittle. He was born in Morgantown, in May 1802, and died at Ripley, July 2, 1877. He first commenced to build a cabin on the left branch of Cummins Run, sometimes called "Green Run", but abandoned the undertaking and later went to Kanawha County where he worked at digging coal.
In 1826 he bought a tract of land on Mill Creek of the Lewis Survey, and built a house near the site of the residence of Otmer Parsons. This land laid on both sides of Mill Creek, and was long known as the Wiblin farm.
Doolittle sold that part of his farm lying across the creek to John Hyre. This was the farm now owned by Hamp Parish. Later he moved to the Kanawha, leaving his farm in the care of Lawrence Hopkins, who afterward either claimed the land as his own, or that he held it under a claim for anothr party. Doolittle returned about 1838 and brought a suit to oust Hopkins in which George Knopp, S.B. Seaman, M. Rader and others were witnesses.
Moses and Susannah Seaman Doolittle's children were:
Ephraim Doolittle, born in June 1822. He married first, Sally Pickerell, a daughter of Stephen Pickerell of Folly Run; and second, a Ledsome. He died in June, 1914. A son, Silas Doolittle, married about 1866, and lived by the Good Hope Church. John and Charley are his sons.
Mary Ann Doolittle married William, a son of Willis Burdett.
Margaret Doolittle married Patrick Keenan, near Ripley.
David Doolittle married a Whorley on Eighteen.
Willit Allen Doolittle.
Susan H. Doolittle married a Hayden.
Elizabeth Doolittle, born in Jackson County, May 13, 1824, died May 13, 1875. She married Willliam Burdett, a son of William, Sr.
Thomas Seaman was born May 10, 1802. It is said that he was associated with the Stewarts in the mill at Reedy while he was a young man, but I do not think it probable. Candler says he never came to Reedy at all. He may have lived there for a time.
He married a McCoy in Pennsylvania, and moved near the mouth of Mill Creek. Of his children there were: David, Susan, George, Elizabeth who married Porter Carter, a brother of Dr. Carter of Reedy.
Silas B. Seaman, the fourth child, was born, says the family Bible, April 17, 1805. (1804 is the date given on the tombstone.) He died November 16, 1891, aged eighty years.
He was long a prominent figure in Reedy life, having served as Captain of militia, magistrate, school commissioner, township supervisor, and as a class leader in the M.E. Church. With all the members of his family except George, he was a Democrat, but when loyalty to that party meant disloyalty to his country, he took a firm stand for the Union, and bore a prominent part in the adjustment of the locality in which he lived, to the changed conditions brought by the formation of a new state government.
For sixty seven years. Almost the three score and ten allotted as the span of man's life, he lived in sight of the spot where his father first settled.
He lived to see the Reedy country transformed from a wilderness, where he had hunted deer and turkey and killed bear and panther, transformed into a fine grazing land, its hills and pasturage for herds of cattle and echoing to the tinkle of the bells of the flocks. Its valley pierced by the shining lines of steel, its grassy slopes flinging back the shriek of the iron horse as it speeds past.
Silas Seaman was a member of the first County Court of Wirt County, organized in 1848. He was Captain of Militia, and his brother, John, was Lieutenant. The men were mustered in his meadow below the house.
In those days a man had to muster two times a year, from the ages of sixteen to perhaps fifty. There was a petty muster held in the bottom below Seaman's house in which all the Company took part, and a general muster at the county seat for the militia of the county seat for the militia of the county. A rollicking, whiskey consuming occasion.
A citizen paid poll tax and worked the roads at sixteen, if he owned a horse.
S.B. Seaman was famous as a hunter. He killed several bears and deer innumerable.
Once one of his hogs came home from the woods, scarred and bleeding. Knowing about what was the matter, he took down his trusty rifle, called his dogs, and went out to see about it.
He had not gone far when he saw a large bear sitting up on a log, boxing at the flies which buzzed around its head. Although he only had a squirrel load in his gun, he fired, at once wounding the bear, which ran off, followed by the dogs. Seaman was barefoot, but started after the animal, which soon got out of his sight. The dogs, however, came up with the bear on Cain's Run, back of where Mr. Hamric lives, and brought it to bay - and Seaman, coming up, shot it.
It is said he once found, while out hunting the cows on the Hamric Run, a place where lead could be procured. But careful search failed ever to reveal it again.
Silas B. Seaman married Margaret Burdett. She was a daughter of William and Nancy Burdett. She was born in Monroe County, December 11, 1809, and died January 25, 1889. They were married in Wood County, January 11, 1829. Their children were:
James D., married Elizabeth Flesher.
David born in 1830, died inj 1870. He married Nancy Carter.
Moses A. , born April 2, 1832, married Edith I. Stalnaker.
Thomas married Matilda Flesher.
Henry married first, Florence Flesher; second, Virginia Burdett, daughter of Lovell Burdett. Their children were: Margaret, the oldest, who married George Lattimer; Nancy, married a Hutchinson; Julia, married a Stewart; Susan, married a Bord; Caroline married Lewis Woodyard; and Rosa married a Tallman.
Ann Elizabeth Seaman, born November 7, 1807, died in 1869. She married Thomas Jefferson Candler. They were married about 1826 and lived two years at the Kanawha Salines.
Thomas J, Candler was born in Russell County, Virginia. He was the only son of John W. Candler, a wealthy resident of the vicinity of Russell Court House. He had four sister, but no brothers.
He loaded boars with salt, sold out and loaded a produce boat, which he took to New Orleans. While there he took the yellow fever, and in four days was dead. This was about the year 1828. The mother returned with her child to Reedy, and lived with her father.
John Candler, their son, was born on the Kanawha River, January 25, 1827. He married a Knapp, and now lives on the old homestead. (He died June 11, 1915.)
Elizabeth Seaman Candler was a member of the M.E. Church and the only one who refused to follow Sam blacks lead in the secession of 1844.
After her son was grown, she lived with him.
Willit Allen Seaman was born December 4, 1810. He married Mary Ann Dillon, who was born in Old Virginia. Like her son, the Hon. James A. Seaman, she was club footed. He lived at the Duke farm, now the residence of Rev. C. Tallman, for a time. Afterward he lived in Mason County near West Columbia, and was killed by the limb of a tree falling on him.
Their children were: James A., who married a Cheuvront, who died November, 1917; and Minerva Jane.
George Vigo Seaman was born in 1813. When over forty, he married Jane, daughter of Charles Boggs. She died in 1876. Their children were:
Cintilla married Thomas Thorne.
Elizabeth married Thomas Lee.
Rosa B., married Thomas Mitchell.
Rebecca married Simon Mitchell.
Charles David married Pearl Knopp.
Three children died when young. John C., George E., and Sophronia.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
The Cain family, which is credited with coming to Reedy in 1822, was one of the most intelligent and progressive of all of those who went to make up the Reedy Colony. This is shown by these facts:
The father was the leading spirit in the first church organized in Reedy. He and three of his sons were school teachers. He and at least one of his sons were Justices of the Peace. One was twice Sheriff, one a preacher, and one a physician.
The year in which the family is credited with moving to Reedy, he was a Justice of the Peace for Wood County, and the Baptist Church was organized at his house; and the winter following he taught school.
It does not seem possible that this advanced position on three different lines could have been reached in the short space of six or eight months. My conclusion, which I think reasonable, is that Cain came to Reedy prior to the accepted date. How much earlier, could be but guesswork, but I feel safe in saying about 1820. It might have been a year or two earlier.
"Dutch" Cain says the family came from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, and then to Reedy in 1819.
Thomas Cain married Mary Horner in Greene County, Pennsylvania. He was born in 1781, and died July 26, 1841. Mary Horner Cain was born in 1791, and died September 11, 1879. They were buried at the Good Hope graveyard.
According to family accounts. Thomas Cain's father came from Ireland to New Jersey, but the date of migration is not known.
When Cain came to Reedy, he built on top of the bank below the stream which comes into Cain's Run at the Good Hope Church. The graveyard is on top of the point on the opposite side of the little stream.
Thomas and Mary Cain's children were: (And they were a large family.)
Alfred Cain was the oldest. He married Mary Corbett of Spring Creek.
Gamaliel Cain married Mary Bord. (?) He first settled on the farm now owned by Ggeorge Dye, about a mile up Cain's Run, where there are some old apple trees.
Thomas H. Cain married first, Elizabeth Dye, a sister of Dusossaway Dye, in 1835; and second, Sarah Thorne, daughter of Zadoc Thorne.
John Wesley Cain married Louisa A. Conrad. (Usually erroneously called Liza Cain.) He died February 1915.
Valentine Cain married a McFee.
Daniel Cain married Letty Sheppard, daughter of Col. William Sheppard of Right Reedy. He was born January 22, 1828; died July 23, 1889. His wife was born in 1831, and died in 1883. They are buried at Pisgah graveyard. Daniel Cain was a doctor and founder of the village of Pewee, where he lived.
James Cain was quartermaster in the 17th Va. Confederate Cavalry. He went out west after the war, and married there.
Jemima Cain married William Thorne, a brother of Zadoc.
Mary Cain married Thomas Lee, a son of Thomas, Sr., and Betsy Baker Lee, and lived at the George Burdett farm above the mouth of Conrad's Run.
Rachel Cain married William Beatty, and lived at the Crow farm on Beatty's Run.
Nicey Cain married Jonathan Sheppard (Short Jonathan) and lived on Sheppard's Fork.
Margaret Cain married Wils Sheppard.
Alf Cain was Deputy Sheriff in Wirt County under Thomas Boggs, the first Sheriff, and was appointed Sheriff of Roane County, in 1881, to succeed James Gandee, who had resigned. He married Mary Corbett, whose father lived on Beaver Damn; after her death he married Nancy Maginty, the widow of Gideon Knopp and daughter of William Stewart.
Alf Cain and M.A. McClung were long the Bar of Reedy District. Alf and Mary Cain's children were:
Rachel married Henry Knopp. Their children were: Girard, Will and Mary, who married Monroe Burdett.
John W., married a McCartling.
William married Sarah Jane, daughter of Elijah Burdett; after his death by a saw mill explosion, she married Gamaliel Bord.
It is on the records at Ripley that A. Cain bought 100 acres of Henderson, joining the land of Thomas Cain, in 1836.
Rev. Thomas H. Cain was born about 1816; and died on Thanksgiving Day, 1900. It has been well said that the did more to establish and keep up the Baptist Church on Reedy than did any other three men.
While not of the greatest ability as a public speaker, he had energy and perseverance, two qualities especially needed in building up a church.
In his young days, he was one of the "old field" schoolmasters of the day, and always occupied a leading place in the community.
He lived a short distance below the Forks of Cain's Run, from long before the time I knew him in 1872 to his death. Mr. Henry George said that when his father came to the country in 1854, the Rev. Thomas H. Cain lived on the home place at Good Hope.
Thomas Cain's children by his first wife were: Elizabeth who married James Curfman. She died January 8, 1915. Sam, born March 6, 1865; died January 10, 1916.
The children by his second wife were: Pearl, who married a Woodyard; and two sons, "Dutch" and George.
John W. Cain was born December 15, 1820, and died March 15, 1901. His wife, Louisa Cain, died February 1915.
He lived in Spencer in 1856, and was appointed one of the magistrates of the County of Roane, when it was organized. He was chosen as the first president of the County Court by the members of that body.
From before 1872 until the time of his death he resided on Conrad's Run.
Valentine Cain, commonly called "Tine" was the only one of the boys, I believe, who stood by the Union in the war.
He lived at Burning Springs, and was a prominent Republican leader in Wirt County. His enemies used to relate that he was once making a political speech from a platform which was made by laying some plank on a barrel. The ground, being a little sidling, the barrel was propped level with a stick of wood. The story goes that just as the speaker, warming to his subject, shouted with impassioned gesture, "V. Cain stands firm," some wag shoved the prop from the barrel with his toe. The barrel rolled down the hill, and platform and speaker suddenly collapsed.
The Alfred Cain of foregoing mention was one of the early teachers in the schools of the Reedy settlement. Unlike his father and brother, John, he was of a rough crabbed disposition instead of genial and mild mannered. He grew to be one of the wealthiest men in the county, and was always considered one of the safest.
In the fall of 1883, his son, John W. Cain and a young man named Gibbs were in an altercation with the drivers of some wagons which were used in hauling wheat to Ripley, over which there was a dispute of ownership. During the altercation a man named Henry Brown, of Mill Creek was killed and Cain was accused. There were two prolonged and tedious trials, the cost of which brought bankruptcy to both him and his father and to Gibbs' father.
John W. Cain, who was anything but a typical murderer, never rallied from the blow, and lived but a few years.
Alf Cain still had his wife's interest in the Stewart farm, but some of her children by a former marriage wanted the land, and Cain - to avoid further trouble - moved to Indiana. The date of his death I did not learn.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Eunice Horner, mother of Mrs. Thomas Cain and Mrs. Joseph Bord, married, in her old days, a sort of good natured ne'er-do-well named Anthony Lott, whom she had nursed when a child. He lived on the Ben Riddle farm in a little cabin down on the low ground below the present building site, about the year 1830.
It is related that one night his dog came to the porch and commenced a long continued wailing howl. Eunice sprang from the bed, intending to go to the door and see what was the matter, but it was not necessary to go that far, for, as she sprang from the bed she landed in water which already covered the floor. They hastily made their way to the woods and higher ground. This may have been the June flood previously mentioned.
The house was probably the one built by John Stewart a few years before. Lott afterward lived in different places on Cain's Run and about the Reedy colony. What became of him, no one seems to know.
Anthony Lott, Eunice Lott and Ruth Lott's names were added to the roll of the Good Hope Church not long after its organization in 1822. What kin they were to the Lotts, who lived at the same time opposite the mouth of Conrad's Run, no one could tell me.
While Lott was a slow, easygoing sort of creature, his wife was energetic and pushing, with vim and vigor enough for two; but strange and eccentric in her ways, and given to outbursts of passion.
I did not learn the time of her death, but she is probably buried in the Good Hope graveyard.
Lott lived some years in the Bush house on Kyger's farm, and in the old house on the Alf Riddle farm. He was, while not an M.D., something of a "medicine man." He cured scarlet fever with witch hazel tea. A Dr. Jett at Elizabeth doctored the Callow for the scarlet fever, but Lott "cured them with witch hazel tea."
Top of Page Return to Index Home
The Murray family came from Lewis County. "Granny" Murray was head of the family when they lived at Reedy. The children were:
Henry Murray was in the Union army.
John Murray also in the army.
Liza Murray married William Prince.
Susan Murray married Robert Blosser, and later, Daniel Sayre.
Ellen Murray married Dempsey Flesher.
Mahala Murray married Jeff Bord.
Cordelia Murray was a school teacher.
Howard Murray married Florida Callison.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Thomas A. Roberts was a son of William and Amanda E. Roberts. He was born in Baltimore, March 23, 1808.
His grandfather, with two brothers came from Ireland in 1771. Thomas A. Roberts received a good education for that day, and taught school before he was eighteen years old, at which time his family moved to Ohio.
In 1837 he married Mary Fultonham. He moved to Reedy in 1844; taught one term of school; and then engaged in farming. His wife having died, he was married November 11, 1852, to Susan Stewart.
On the 13th of June, 1861, he was chosen delegate to the Wheeling Convention, where he united with the Constitutional party. On the 29th of June he was waylaid and captured by a party of about twenty Confederate soldiers, who informed him they had orders from Governor Wise to arrest the members of the "Revolutionary Convention." He was taken to Richmond and confined to Libby prison. On October 5, 1862, he was discharged on account of impaired health.
Col. Roberts, as he was known, died April 24, 1893, at the age of ninety five years.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Early Bridges and Roads
The old wooden bridge at Reedy was built under contract with the County Court of Roane County in the fall of 1870. It was first opened to the public on New Year's day, 1871.
Prior to that date the Ravenswood Spencer Pike crossed at a ford below the bridge. (The pike was commenced in 1851 and completed in 1852, and was under toll for five years.)
The old bridge stood until the 6th of June, 1902, when it was carried away by a flood. On two or three occasions previously the planks in the bridge floor had been floated, and once, on July 11, 1882, the bridge had been started from its foundation.
The road had, as before stated, crossed at the lower end of the village in the first days of the colony, passing around at the foot of the hill beyond the slough.
The road leading toward Spencer had crossed the creek near the old Stewart mill and kept on the right of the creek at least to the old Flesher homestead.
Up the Middle Fork, the first road took to the hill at the John Stewart farm, now the Widow Cottle's place, crossed over the point and came to the creek one and a half miles above, at the house of Hiram Chancey, where N.F. Butcher now lives.
Where the roads of the early period followed the stream, they were generally along the banks of the creek instead of at the foot of the hill, as they are now usually built.
In 1872 and for some years later the Middle Fork road followed the bank of the steam from the narrows in front of Squire Chancey's to the mouth of the stream at the Widow Roach's.
While the main road crossed the hill from Chancey's to the Three Forks, there was a sort of byroad leading down the creek, which crossed at Dempsey Flesher's and kept on the left side of the stream around to Stewart's mill, where it intersected the Left Fork road.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
The Reedy steam mill was built in 1891 by the Reedy Mill Company, of which Taylor Hill of Wirt County was the leading member. It was later owned by S.B. Seaman and others.
Previous to that date, wheat was taken to Ravenswood or Sandyville, or, after 1872 or 1873, to a little mill at Reedyville.
In 1876, C. C. Smith built a large merchant mill at Spencer, which received much of the custom of the Reedy valley. (The mill was burned in 1907.)
For grinding corn, there was in 1872 the mill at Reedyville and the Stewart's log mill at the dam, and Vernon and Sayre for a short time at the saw mill opposite the Woodyard store. Messrs. W. P. and Peyton Stewart ground at their saw mill on Salt Block Run in 1882, having a hand bolt for wheat flour; and S. B. Seaman had a horse mill with steel buhrs near where he afterward built the house in which J.A. McClung now resides.
In 1883, Robert McKutcheon built a mill for grinding wheat and corn on McKutcheon's Run, and about that time James Kelley and E. Mithcell built one on Little Creek of Mill Creek. This was afterward moved to the mouth of Buffalo.
There were corn mills at divers times and places, which ground, usually on Saturday only. These were connected with saw mills scattered among the hills.
In the early days of the settlement there was a water mill on the bank opposite the Roberts homestead, though it was frequently washed away by high water.
The first was built about 1821 or 1822. The mill was a pole shack on the creek bank with a tree felled across the stream for a dam. Charles Stewart and his brother Robert were the proprietors. The mill was soon washed away, but was rebuilt substantially. In what was known as the "June flood" which occurred about 1835, the mill was carried away again.
John Seaman, who then lived on the little strip of bottom land on the south side of the creek just above the forks of Right Reedy, had a grist in the mill at this time.
There came a great storm in the night, and Seaman, having a presentiment of floods, crossed the riffle near his house, dry shod, and roused Stewart and his family.
The boys got the horses and carried the grain out of the mill, but the old man refused to believe there was any danger and remained in the building, putting some carpenter tools and other things up into the loft. Finally they coaxed him to leave and scarcely, it is said, was he outside before a head of water came rolling down the creek and swept the mill off its foundation.
Robert Stewart, said Uncle John Candler, "was the honestest miller I ever knew."
Henry Blosser was at one time proprietor or manager of the Stewart mill, which ground very slow. He would throw grist in the hopper, turn on the water, and go out to work leaving the mill to take care of itself.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Early Schools and Teachers
The first school in the Reedy colony was, so far as I can ascertain, taught by Thomas Cain, and the date was 1822 - 1823. The site of the school house is not given, but it is said to have been without floor or window. Mother Earth served for the one and the cracks between the logs for the other. It was guiltless of even the common greased paper glazing. One end was occupied by a fireplace, which took in a six foot backlog.
Cain was one of the most enterprising members of the little colony. After coming in 1822, as before stated, he bought a body of land on Cain's Run one mile below the forks, and he went almost immediately into teaching.
Some years later he taught a term in a cabin which "Tine" Cain had built where the old apple trees stood, at the mouth of the first hollow, about fifty rods below Reedy. He was once barred out, as was the custom of the day. The boys would come early, and, getting inside, would fasten the doors, keeping the teacher out until he promised to treat. This treat would usually consist of apples, cakes or whiskey.
If the teacher refused to treat he was caught, taken to the creek and "ducked." Should he succeed in getting into the school house, the treat was usually furnished by the bigger boys, or omitted. Sometimes, if the teacher were cross, he wold gather his withes and give the ring leaders a "thrashing" for their treat.
Cain, however, was good natured, and only ran when they tried to duck him. Away he sped, like a deer, and ran and ran and ran, all around over the hills and hollows, with the boys scattered along behind him. Round and round they circled for hours, until afternoon, when, tired of running, he came back to the school house and forced an entrance. Though John W. Stewart was a small fellow, he stood sptead out in the doorway, holding the corners of his "wamus" jacket to the jambs on either side of the door as he cried, "Teacher, you can't get past me-e."
Alfred Cain, Old Tommy's son, was also an old time teacher. He, unlike his father, was inclined to be crabbed and ill natured, but quite a figure in the old fashioned clawhammer coat he used to wear.
About 1833, Anderson Burdett kept school in a little cabin up the run where Hiram Chancey lived, now known as the George Fore Run. This was the first school that the late A.B. Chancey, then a lad of about eight, ever attended. His bok was a leaf torn from his brother Jim's spelling book and pasted on a paddle, which he could hold up before his face to learn his "a-b abs." When good, he received his lessons per capita. When bad, equally wholesale lessons were administered per something else.
This teacher, Jesse A. Burdett, was a son of Willis Burdett, who lived where John Lester now does. He died of a malarial fever, October 6, 1834, and his grave was the first grave in the Roach graveyard.
Some years later, Silas B. Seaman taught in this same building. Another teacher in the same place was David Harris, who lived on Enoch's Fork thirty years ago.
Old Johnny Burdett, who lived about the mouth of Tucker's Run below Reedyville, was another early teacher.
In 1835 or near that time, Henry Given taught in a cabin that stood on the left side of the creek near the old Rader house. This building was equipped in the regulation old time style. The big boys took a ‘possum hunt one night at the beginning of the term, to procure greases for the windows. Andy Chancey, who was then ten years old, was one of his pupils. Henry Given married a sister of John L. Boggs and lived on the old Smith farm, across from Dye's.
John Shadd, a Connecticut Yankee, came to Spring Creek and Reedy about 1830 or 1831, and some years later he taught on the Middle Fork. There was a house used as a school house on Big Run, where he taught one or more terms. It stood up the run above Mr. Moss's house.
Another house Shedd taught in was on the left of the creek above the mouth of Graham Run on the George Brown farm. Mrs. John Stalnaker and probably Henry Bigler taught here later.
Shedd was one of the few professional teachers of the time. He was an odd turned, eccentric individual, an inveterate smoker, and would smoke his pipe or even go to sleep in "time of books."
Like all schools of that day, he taught a subscription school. Each patron "signed" so many pupils, to be paid usually one half when the term was one half out and the remainder at the end of the term. The tuition fees were payable in money or anything the teacher could make use of or trade. The rate was a fixed sum per pupil, usually amounting to ten or twelve dollars a month. If the teacher did not live in the neighborhood, he "boarded ‘round" a week at a time with the different families.
Another school house was Beech Grove. It was a log hut situated on the right bank of Left Reedy a little above the line of John Wright and the Smith land.
This was superseded later by a more pretentious building of broad hewed logs. All or nearly all, poplar, it had the usual fireplace, but there was a plank floor and the writing shelf and pat of he seats were of plank. The joists were whip sawed, and there were two sure enough glass windows, with eight by ten glass. There was no black board, and the hinges and latch of the door were of wood.
Mr. E.V. Smith puts the date of the building in 1858, but I think that too recent, for when I first knew the house in 1872, it was old and dilapidated. The chimney was falling down and the roof partly gone, and some of the ribs, which were hickory, had rotted and broken down. This state of decay was far greater than fourteen years should have brought. John Wright, who was raised across the creek opposite the spot, says it was built in 1856.
I have heard my wife tell of this school, which she attended in her early childhood. This, I think, paints a good mental picture of the school.
She was Sarah Smith, oldest daughter of J.B. Smith, who was a son of Jacob C. Smith. She was born on Crane's Nest Run, where her father lived for a time.
She related it thus: "When father lived on Crane Nest he would take me on a horse up to grandfather's to stay two weeks at a time, and go to school at Old Beech Grove.
Mrs. O'Hara was our teacher. Our school house was a log house with a big fireplace, and, I think, had two half windows with glass.
The teacher had a little stool at home, which she brought for me to sit on. She kept it in the chimney corner, and if the stool was occupied when I got there, she would make them get up and take some other seat."
James O'Hara taught at Beech Grove before the war, and his wife, who was a daughter of Elijah Flesher, taught during the war. Henry Holbert taught here under the free school regime.
In 1840 Lucinda Conrad taught on the creek near Baker's.
In 1833 Robert Mitchell taught in a house near the mouth of Little Spring Creek.
James C. Springston of Spring Creek and George Fore of Reedy were teachers in the Fifties.
Besides those named, there were others who taught one or more terms. Sometimes in the rude houses provided for school purposes and sometimes in some old cabin which was for the time vacant.
The free school system provided for in the constitution of the State of West Virginia, adopted March 26, 1863, was first inaugurated by a law passed by the Legislature on December 10th following. By joint vote of the Senate and House of Delegates on the first day of June, 1864, William Ryland White was elected as Superintendent of Free Schools for the state. However, it was not until 1866 that free schools were first set up in Roane County, when Rev. Jonathan Smith was made county superintendent and boards of education appointed in the different townships. These townships were divided into school districts, and provided for the building of school houses and the employment of teachers.
On the first inauguration of free schools, the examination of teachers was conducted by the county superintendent alone and privately. As a matter of course, they were very elementary, for the field was large, the need pressing, and laborers few.
A few of the old field schoolmasters held over and many came from Ohio and Pennsylvania for the purpose of teaching in West Virginia schools. Some of these remained permanently, and became an important factor in the up building of the educational interests of the state.
Meanwhile the flood of immigration which was pouring into the counties along the Ohio River and flowing back into the adjoining counties brought with it many who helped to lay broad, deep and solid, the foundation of her magnificent educational system and institutions.
This tide of immigration, which crossed the river and flowed back over the land in succeeding waves each spring and fall, was unexcelled in the history of the Union save alone in the rush of "boomers" to the gold fields of California, or later to Oklahoma and other newly opened Indian lands of the west.
Unlike much of the western immigration, there was no element of speculation in it. It was just a sturdy, honest, industrious yeomanry seeking homes in a newly opened old country which lay close to their door. They brought with them a spirit of progress which infused itself into the lives of those among whom they settled. That influence bore a full fruit in rousing the state to shake off the lethargy of the slavery days and old Virginia institutions and laws. Making West Virginia what it is today, a name to be proud of.
So great was the immigration before it was checked by the financial crisis of 1873 that it was almost a daily sight to see one, two or more families moving back into the country from steamboat landing along the Ohio River each spring and fall.
I remember that my father, in moving his goods from Belleville in the lower end of Wood County seven miles out on Jerry's Run, in April, 1869, took one load around the ridge between Pond Creek and Lee Creek, hoping to avoid the mud which was so very deep on the more used roads of the creek, passed a house where an old man sitting on the low rail fence before his cabin door informed him that this was the sixtieth moving which had passed his place that spring.
It was not for many years, however, that the new state had to send abroad for teachers, as so called "Normal" and "Select" schools were taught here and there throughout the country by the older and more experienced or advanced teachers. These teachers were styled "Professors" by their pupils and admirers. This rapidly turned out a full army of fairly well equipped teachers from among the more ambitious or enterprising of the young men and women.
There were many obstacles to be overcome. The free school system was new, and antagonistic to the old time prejudices of those who still clung to the "good old days" and ways of old Virginia. Moreover, it was a Northern institution, which aroused the opposition of some who would otherwise have been its friends. Many of the largest landholders, who paid but little tax under the old laws, found themselves "land poor" after the war. They were compelled to bear a proportionate part of the expenses of the county and state government and , while perhaps themselves without children of school age, were forced to furnish a part of the means of education for the children of their tenants and poor people whom it was always considered were not worthy of notice, and whose advancement would be a menace to the interests of the upper classes.
So great was the influence of the enemies of free schools in the Continental Convention of 1872 that, though powerless to destroy it, they were able to make the districts the unit of taxation for school purposes and to have the power of the Board of Education to levy a school tax voted on every two years. This crippled the free school system for several years in some parts of the state.
A.B. Chancey and S.B. Seaman were appointed School Commissioner for Reedy Township. They divided the township into ten school districts, in each of which was built a fairly comfortable school house. These buildings were small and unpretentious, and poorly furnished, but it was at least a start, and answered the purpose for which they were intended.
As the county was yet thinly settled and the cost of building a heavy burden to the tax paying public, these houses were placed a considerable distance apart and some of the children were inconveniently situated. As the country settled and the old houses needed removing, they were replaced by larger and better equipped buildings.
In 1872 there was a school house on Cain's Run, one in Reedy, and one just above the residence of J.B. Seaman on the Ravenswood pike. Another stood in the low gap at the head of Sandy, where the Stalnaker school house still stands. A school house occupied the site of the present Buffalo school house on Mr. Morrison's farm. No. 5, the Pleasant Valley school house, was on the Middle Fork about a half mile above Stony Point. No. 6 was on Left Reedy and was named Chestnut Grove, from the chestnut trees which formed a part of the beautiful grove in which it was situated. It stood on the top of the point below State Run, and is now used as a residence by A.C. Callow.
In 1874, the eleventh school house was built on almost the present site of the Long Bottom school house, at the upper end of the Milt Seaman farm. J.D. Cottle was the first teacher, and the following summer Miss Virginia Seaman taught a subscription school here, and in the winter of 1875-1876 the writer taught his first term of school, in this building.
Some of the teacher after I knew the place were: Evaline Depue 1872-1874 J.A. Vandale 1874-1875 Louisa Stutler 1875-1876 J.F. House 1876-1878 C.L. Hall 1878-1879
These were the teachers of my home neighborhood.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
The First Church
The first sermon in the Reedy colony was preached in 1822 by the Rev. Laurence King, a Baptist minister, who organized a church the same year.
Rev. Andrew Atkinson, "the buckskin preacher", also preached at nearly as early a date.
The first church on Reedy was organized at the house of Thomas Cain on June 22, 1822, by Elder King. The members at the time of organization were:
Patrick Bord Mary Bord
Thomas Cain Margaret Bord
Susan Wine Mary Cain
Afterward were admitted the next fifty persons, in the following order:
Anthony Lott Ruth Lott
Laurence King John E. Wine
Thomas B. King Eunice Lott
Isabel Blosser Alexander Bord
Thomas H. Cain Maria Hickman
Jonathan Petty Martha Sheppard
Louisa Hartley Sarah Vandale
Harriet Boggs Valentine Cain
Elizabeth Cain Hance Stewart (Hensley)
Elizabeth McFee William Boggs
J.P. Thomasson Nancy Thomasson
Hannah Riddle M.J. Thomasson
Elizabeth Ingram Delila Paxton
Elias Parsons Delila Parsons
Nancy Parsons Maria Cain
Mary Cain Susan Thomasson
Edith Chenoweth Belinda Parsons
Madison Ashley Harriet Ashley
David Litton Mrs. David Litton
Susan Stalnaker Elijah Weas
Edie Weas Michael Curfman
Rebecca Curfman Mariah Pickerell
In 1828 the Rev. George Holt organized the first Methodist class. The names of the members are not given, but among them were Old Davy Seaman and a part of his family. The circuit extended to Elizabeth, and was probably a part of Elizabeth circuit. About 1833 and later, Rev. George Casto, a local Methodist preacher, preached at Reedy.
On the 7th day of March, 1844, the Methodist Class built a hewed log meeting house in what is now the Bord graveyard, below "Doc" Board's.
On that day, while the building was being raised, it snowed all day, until it covered the ground about knee deep.
The house was raised and roofed, but the split coming in the church, it was never finished. The plank for floors and benches were whip sawed and piled up in the building.
The trustees, George Flesher, George Seaman, and Will K. Bord, all wanted to go with the Southern branch but most of the class refused to follow.
The unfinished house, through never dedicated, was used for preaching and prayer meetings for several years, and John Candler conducted a Sunday School there for four years. Finally, Sandy Bord tore the house down.
The graveyard was laid out by David Seaman before the church was built, and Elvira, John Seaman's daughter, was the first person buried there.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
The first goods sold at Reedy were in a little log building lower down the creek than the hotel building. The good belonged to Nathaniel Smith. "Wash" Rader was salesman in the store.
The list of early merchants in Reedy has been pretty thoroughly covered in the list of store buildings mentioned under the heading "Reedy Village."
Top of Page Return to Index Home
It were as if Longfellow, when writing his charming verses, "The Village Blacksmith", may have had in mind the first blacksmith of the Reedy Colony. Henry Blosser, who about the year 1833 had his forge set up under a chestnut tree not far from the Stewart mill, a little ways up Left Reedy.
Other blacksmiths and their shops were discussed under the heading "Reedy Village."
Top of Page Return to Index Home
The first practicing physician on Reedy was Dr. Jett of Elizabeth, who came there in 1831.
Dr. Adams of Trace Fork, Dr. John M. Rader of Frozen Camp, John Armstrong - who practiced at Ripley as early as 1829, and Dr. Joseph Mairs, one time of Ripley and later resident of the old brick a mile above Sandyville on the Parkersburg road, were early medical practitioners and may have had calls to the colony as necessity demanded.
Wesley Baker, a son of John Baker, who lived near the mouth of Conrad's Run after teaching school studied medicine and became the first practicing physician in Reedy. This was perhaps about 1840.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Some Reedy Disasters
The Three Forks of Reedy was the scene of a terrible accident when, on the 8th day of February, 1866, the Boggs-Cain saw mill boiler blew up, killing five men and injuring the sixth.
Hawk Boggs and William Cain, two young men living in the neighborhood, had bought the first portable saw mill ever seen on Reedy, and brought it to the Three Fork, setting it up in the very upper end of the Cain bottom, immediately below the narrows, at the lower end of the village.
They secured the services of Thomas Hartley of Upper Sandy, who had had experience in running a mill on Sandy, to get the mill set up and started. After a few days, they thought themselves able to manage alone.
They had attached corn buhrs, and on the 8th of February were grinding corn. They had allowed the water in the boiler to get too low, so that the crown sheet had become hot, and when the pump was started and a flood of cold water poured in, the boiler let go (about two o'clock in the afternoon) with a terrible explosion, which was heard for miles and which shook the windows in the houses of the village. The entire side of the boiler was torn out and part blown away.
Boggs, who was a son of John L. Boggs, was killed instantly. Cain was a young man of twenty five years, and a son of Alfred Cain, and lived in Reedy. When killed by the blast, he left a wife and two children. Also killed was Samuel Wyatt, who lived at the forks of Cain's Run. He was the father of Charles, Ephraim and Warren Wyatt. Robert Blosser and William Harding were the other vicims. Blosser left a widow and several children.
Charles W. Boggs was injured and Dempsey Flesher, who had just put his grist on his horse to return home, was blown over the creek bank, man, horse, meal and all.
W.K. Bord, who lived on Folly Run, had been to mill and had just gotten home when the explosion occurred. He hastened back and was the first man on the ground after the explosion.
As before stated, the Three Forks of Reedy, owing to its position and the conformation of the country, has always been peculiarly susceptible to overflow and damage from floods.
The little flutter wheel tub mill maintained by the Stewart family was frequently washed away and as often renewed, in the early days of the colony.
The previously mentioned June flood was perhaps the worst, as it is the oftenest mentioned in the traditions of the past. The exact date cannot be ascertained, being usually placed about 1835.
Though it does not form a part of the history of the settlement and early history of Reedy colony and country, I will here so far digress as to mention the principal floods which have occurred in recent years.
The "Trim Flood" of the 26th of July, 1874, has been previously spoken of. On that day, the weather had been very sultry, and the air was close and stifling. There had been several days of very hot weather. Just before dark, a line of ominous black clouds could be seen lying along the tops of the hills from a little south of west to northwest.
When it began to grow dark, bluish gleams flitted along the edge of the rising bank of clouds, and continuously flashes of light, some pale, some intense, glowed up from the depth of tumbling clouds beyond. The muttering of thunder with an occasional deep boom sounded along the front of the rising storm, and a continuous low deep threatening growl growing louder as the lightning became more vivid and the storm drew close.
The storm advanced slowly, and it was past nine o'clock when it finally broke. For a few minutes the wind blew, then there was a brief ominous stillness and then a few big raindrops and the sudden rushing downpour, lit up with blinding flashes of lightning, followed by the crashing peals of thunder.
The rain continued for hours, a steady downpour, ebbing but never ceasing, as the second and third cloud following mingled with the storm going before, until at last the thunder rolled off, muttering and growling, leaving the valley of Reedy a wild waste of swirling waters. Fencing, stock and growing crops were swept sway. Logs, trees, rails and hay stacks and oats shocks from the fields and grain in stacks were piled together in huge drifts. Corn was washed away or covered up. New channels were cut by creeks and branches. Little hollows, less than a fourth of a mile long, washed out logs a yoke of cattle could not have drawn.
The damage was never calculated, but within a radius of five miles of Reedy must have run into many thousands of dollars to the farmers alone. In Reedy, Merchant Trim, who had hundreds of thousands of staves in the woods along small branches or in the streams and at the log boom at the mouth of the creek, lost so much that to this cause was attributed his bankruptcy a few months later.
The old man Smith's was the only death at Reedy due to the flood, which was probably not more than an eight foot rise above the common summer level of the water. However, there was so much gorging of drift and damming up of the current that no exact estimate of its true height can be formed.
Other notable floods were in August 1875; July, 1882; and in 1889. Perhaps the highest of all was in 1902, when the bridge was washed out.
A fire (thought by some to have been of incendiary origin) occurred in Reedy on the night of May 2, 1890. Stewart's Hotel, George Goad's store and residence, G.W. Robert's house, the post office, Alf Stewart's shoe shop, and some outbuildings were burned. The fire started in the store and was probably kindled to hide the work of a thief.
For a village the size of Reedy, a fire the size of this was a major disaster.
Another disaster to the village and its vicinity was the killing freeze which occurred on the night of June 5, 1855. Much of the corn was six or eight inches high, and wheat was jointed, but the blighting freeze killed almost all vegetation to the earth. The fields reeked with the stench of frozen plants.
The people replanted their fields in corn, and the fall being late, made a partial crop, but there was much want and suffering.
Again, in the spring of 1875, near calamity visited the valley. Spring had been very early, the weather was rather warm in the last half of March, and much hot weather in April. By the middle of that month grass was growing, wheat knee high and jointing, and the woods getting green. On the 16th of April it snowed, and the thermometer fell to 41 degrees and that night it went to 19 degrees above zero. Not so cold for winter, but enough to kill vegetation. The wheat was frozen to the ground, and the crop ruined. Much of the beech timber - which was almost full leaf - was killed. Fruit was killed, and the next year and a half was the "starving time" of the history of Reedy valley.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Mail was carried from the East to Wheeling on horses, and down the river on government mail boats, rowed by four armed oarsmen. From the river points it was distributed as best possible to the inland settlements.
Here are the postage rates of the early days; but they have not much affected the pioneers of Reedy valley. If here was no post office yet established at Elizabeth (Beauchamp's Mills) they got their mail, if they got any, at Parkersburg.
No stamps were used. Postage was collected at the office of distribution or prepaid at mailing. The rates: 36 miles, 6 cents; 80 miles, 10 cents; over 100 miles, 18 3/4 cents; and over 400 miles, 25 cents.
If Elizabeth was the distributing point, the letter could be had for 6 cents. If, as is most likely, it was Parkersburg, 10 cents was the cost.
Newspapers published in Virginia could have been had for 1 cent each. If the paper then published in Marietta or any other "outside point," not over 100 miles away, 1 ˝ cents. But these laws did not interfere much with the fiscal condition of Reedy.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Where the sandstone bed on which the hill is founded breaks out at the end of the point above Lower Brook, there is a picturesque formation of chimney rocks. The end of the point, where Stewart first built, runs out in a more or less flat surface of rock, broken by clefts and fissures, and large as a good sized room. Numerous names, dates, and figures of objects are carved on the surface.
One face of this floor is a sheer cliff four rods long and about twenty feet high. At the east end of this cliff stand two chimney rocks. One is twenty feet high, and irregularly rectangular, its slope rough, seamed and scarred on the surface. The other is the same height on one face, but on another side the ground falls away, leaving the column a full ten feet higher. On its top lies a huge boulder.
The south face of the pile is covered with a magnificent growth of American Ivy.
Dr. Carter told me that a Choctaw Indian with whom he visited by the rocks, pointed out a rude figure of a coffin graven by the hand of nature on the face of the cliff.
The Lower Brook extends half a mile or more back into the hills, and is a wild and picturesque region, abounding in rocks, cliffs, bluffs and caves, among which the waters toss and tumble.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
On the top of a low hill lying below the village of Reedy near the edge of a flat containing two or three acres is an artificial mound about three feet in height and two rods in diameter. It has been plowed over and cultivated for many years, and had doubtless been much higher when the country was first settled.
Across a saddle back gap on the opposite slope is another mound, which is two by four rods in extent, the largest diameter being due east and west.
This mound is four feet high or more, and there are second growth trees of two feet diameter standing on and around it. Being a rock mound, cultivation was found impracticable and it was allowed to grow up in a thicket; later thinned out to form a pretty little grove.
Back about thirty rods on the point are two other rock piles, but as they are near the stratum of rocks, they are probably a natural formation. South by east of this is another small mound, and the flat has probably contained other mounds.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
A rough hospitality was universal among the rugged pioneers of Western Virginia, and on the occasion of house raising, log rolling or other such event, hands were invited, and came too, from Elizabeth and the settlements on Reedy, Spring Creek, Sandy and Mill Creek.
Drinking, dancing, and athletic exercises were the forms of recreation, and hunting - both an occupation and pleasure.
Then there were the gatherings of the womenfolk, the quilting bees, bean stringing, apple peeling and sugar making.
Then there were the wedding parties. In those days, this was a two day event. There was the wedding, which was held invariably at the home of the bride; and the second day event was the "infare" which was the gathering at the home of the bridegroom. For these two events, the bride must have two wedding gowns.
Then there was the charivari, which was celebrated on the first night, after the wedding or at the first time the bride and groom could be "caught" - as it was the custom for the groom to hide from the guests. In this celebration the young forks of the neighborhood would gather and serenade the newly weds with everything from conch shells, cowbells, to horse fiddles and saw blades.
Perhaps one of the greatest of all hospitalities of that day, now almost a thing of the past, was that in which whole families would be entertained for "Sunday dinner." Often these would be "spur of the moment" invitations after the church service.
After this hearty meal, the men and large boys would gather on split bottom chairs tilted back on porch or the shady side of the house, if in summer. In winter they would gather before the log fireplace and huge log fire to discuss current happenings and politics.
The women, after the chore of dishes was out of the way, would view the store of pattern quilts, "swap" patterns and pieces and favorite recipes.
For entertainment and education, there were various contests, such as spelling bees, debating societies and singing schools, in which many of the young would join.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Signs, Superstitions and Witchcraft
Most of the pioneers were superstitious, and believed in ghosts, witches, omens, signs and prognostications. With them, the moon ruled not only the night, but the day as well. Each community and family had favorite signs and omens of its own to govern planting, foretell weather, etc.
Some signs, sayings and superstitions gathered from different sources, mostly from the old ladies interviewed and from Aunt Ann Rhoe, who was raised in the Lower Valley.
Plow the garden in the dark of the moon and it will be cloddy all summer.
Sow wheat in new moon in September.
Apples "shook" in the light of the moon will not rot.
Dig a well in the new moon, with points up.
Plant the trees when the moon is young. It will be as many years until the trees bear as the moon is old when they are planted.
Plant corn while the "sign" is in the arms. It always makes big ears.
Plant peas, beans and all vines that run up while the moon is pointing up.
Flax sown while the "sign" is in the feet and it will be easy to clean, and the lint soft.
Plant potatoes while the moon is dark, and they will grow deep. If planted while the moon is light, they will grow shallow and there will be a poor yield.
Lots of sleet, lots of fruit. Dry freeze, no fruit.
A chip chopped from the south side of a tree, heated and laid on the side, will drive away pleurisy.
An egg laid on Good Friday will, if set, hatch a speckled chicken.
If it rains on July 2nd, the weather will be seasonable. If it is dry, there will be a drought.
If it rains on Easter Sunday, there will be rain for seven Sundays following.
If he eaves drip on "Old Christmas" (January 6th) there will be no fruit.
If there is a heavy crop of leaves, the following winter will be hard.
Plant your corn when the oak leaves are as "big as squirrels' ears."
The color on the black and orange "woolly worm", fall caterpillar, foretells the winter season. If the black is largest at the head end, the first of the winter will be hardest, and vice versa.
The first three days of December are rule days, each in turn "ruling" the weather for December, January and February.
The first three days of March, in the same way, govern the three spring months of March, April and May.
Warts would be driven away by hiding various objects, from beans to pins, in various places never to be visited again.
On May Day, wash your face in the dew of new wheat before sunrise, and freckles will disappear.
Wishing, by the young folks, would be done upon the first star seen at night, or upon the new moon seen over the left shoulder, or the first whip-poor-will in spring. Also with a wishbone placed over the door.
Certain persons could locate underwater veins of water with a "water witch". This was used in the early days to locate wells. A forked stick of peach or other pitted trees, some used witch hazel. This would be a forked branch or twig some ten inches long, and was held out in front by both hands on the two branches, the main stick up. In walking around the ground, when the bearer passed over a vein of water the stick would turn in the hands, until it pointed down. If a man wanted a well dug he would wait for someone to come and "witch" it for him.
There were always "Spooks" about old graveyards. One citizen who lived near the graveyard on the Seaman farm on the night of his wife's death heard noises of horses running, a wagon rattling, and the crack of a whip in the graveyard.
Another time, Bill Roach, Patrick Bord and Siley Seaman were digging a grave at the old Stewart graveyard, when suddenly they heard a sound like a millstone falling. Roach was frightened, and leaped out of the grave. Seaman suggested that it may have been a bear up the hollow in the woods turning rocks over and searching for crawfish.
They proceeded to investigate, but found nothing to account for the noise. Roach and Bord were afraid to work any longer at the grave, and Seaman completed it alone.
Various were the stories of signs and tokens such as lights seen or animals appearing or noises being heard when someone in the family was near death.
If the death occurred, these were taken to have been a forewarning of the event.
Once, when John Candler was young, he was passing a burying ground at night. The night was dark, yet there was light enough to discern nearby objects. Just as he came by the graveyard he saw a large deer, which made three leaps straight toward the graves, jumping through the top of a water beech which had been cut and piled out of the road. This without making the least noise, and it disappeared at the graveyard.
One night R. E. "Buck" Edmondson was traveling down Reedy. What appeared to be a man came out of a patch of leatherwood brush below Lee's mill, and walked by this side. Though they journeyed together some distance, the stranger maintained absolute silence, paying not the slightest heed to his companion's marks, yet ever keeping his place by his side. Together they crossed the ford, and kept on until at the foot of Fout's hill, where the apparition disappeared as suddenly and mysteriously as it had come upon the scene.
Uncle John Candler tells of an apparition seen by "Pop" Stewart, away back in the early days of the colony, perhaps about 1820. Stewart lived on the hill where Dr. Carter now resides. One day while out on the porch she saw a woman and two men coming toward the house, along the cow path through the bottom below the house, which had been slashed and the timber was still lying on the ground. With a woman's instinct, she hurried in, and, grasping her split broom, proceeded to set the house in order for the prospective visitors. This hurriedly accomplished, she hastened back to greet her guests, who, she supposed would be about to the house; but they were nowhere visible, neither at the porch nor on the bank in the slashing, nor were they in the fields above the house. In truth, they were not. Nor ever had been.
Squire Stutler told of an apparition he saw, and from the earnest impressive manner in which he spoke, it was quite evident he "knew his mind." He had two sons, one of whom was bedfast with fever for some days. One day while returning from the hog pen where he had been feeding his hogs, he passed the boys, "near enough to have laid his hand on them." They did not speak, but he thought nothing of the incident until he chanced to remember that one of them was sick. Inquiry showed that neither were there, and not long after both were dead.
Some time in the Twenties, Moses Doolittle, who had married a Seaman girl, cut logs to build a cabin on Green's Run, which flows into Seaman Creek at the tan yard near Ripley.
On the morning the hands gathered for the raising, Old David Seaman was "bewitched" and fell over as stiff as a log of wood.
After a few weeks, he grew better, but Doolittle thought it an omen of bad luck, and abandoning his improvement, went away to Kanawha County or elsewhere.
About the same time, Hiram Chancey was taken with the same kind of "spells", which after that they had by "turns", first one and then the other.
They were working at the Kanawha Salines above Charleston, and, curiously enough, whenever they crossed the Elk River going beyond they became free from their strange affliction, and whenever they crossed returning, the trouble returned. This was evidence enough that the spell was laid on them by a witch whose power only extended to the Elk River. Finally, they went to consult a reputed "witch doctor" living near Sandyville. He laughed when they told their errand, and denied having power to deal in matters supernatural, but invited them to pass the night with him, which invitation they accepted. He told them to go to bed, and if he arose first in the morning, to be sure not to speak to him. Long before dawn, he got up and went out of doors three times and was gone a long time. After breakfast, he gave each a piece of paper with "words" written on it, and told them to go home and they would not be bothered any more with a recurrence of their affliction.
He steadfastly refused to name the witch, but being importuned, described her so that they knew it to be an old lady living at Reedy.
Seaman put his paper in a buckskin pouch, and sewed ti up with "whangs" and straps, and wore it under his shirt until about the fourth or fifth night, when it disappeared completely. Yet both of the parties were exempt from any further disturbance.
There was a family who lived at the Hutchinson farm below Leroy. The wife and girls were supposed to be witches. Mary and Evaline Bord were there on a visit and a party of young folks went to the sugar camp on the opposite side of the creek to a "sugaring off" bee. While there, a sudden and violet storm came up, but the party found shelter under the sugar shed, and thought but little of the matter until they saw that the creek was rising rapidly, and already so high they could not cross.
In this dilemma, one of the girls, supposed to be endowed with witchcraft, went out into the thicket and cut a paw paw stick, which she peeled, tying the bark around one end. She then turned the white stick into a white horse, the bark becoming a bridle, and carried the party over the swollen stream. This supposed occurrence was about 1845.
One of the most ridiculous of the witch tales of Reedy was related by W.P. Stewart, of Frank McGraw, who lived on Crane Nest Run at the mouth of the first hollow above Sheppard's Creek, who is said to have gone before William Sheppard, then a Justice of the Peace, and desired a warrant for the arrest of a person whom he offered to swear was a witch, and had turned him into a horse the night before, and had ridden him to Clarksburg.
As the pioneer hunter's rifle was the principal reliance for a meat supply for himself and family and for protection against the wild beasts of the forest, it is small wonder that it was a favorite object for the witch's hatred to be vented upon.
There were, however, many in the community who could remove these spells and restore the weapon to its normal condition of usefulness. An incident given by Uncle John Candler illustrates this:
John Seaman's rifle was bewitched and had become useless. No matter how true his aim or how steady his hand, the bullet flew wide of the mark. When thoroughly convinced that the gun had a "spell" laid upon it, Seaman took it to Henry Blosser, who unbleached it and laid the barrel, with appropriate words, in a riffle in the creek, where the water would run through it all night. This was said to act upon the witch. In the morning, the rifle barrel was cleaned and restocked and oiled, and was as accurate as it ever had been.
Anthony Lott, another pioneer of the Reedy colony, was skilled in taking spells of of guns also.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Manner of Living
When a family started to move to the wilderness of Little Kanawha Valley, if they lived up the river or on lower Monongahela, as did the earliest settlers of the Reedy colony, the Bords, Cains, Stewarts and Seamans, they came down the Ohio in boats to Parkersburg and then up the Kanawha. If, like the Fleshers and many others, they came from Harrison or Lewis Counties, or like the Boggses, from Greenbrier, they died a sort of wooden frame called a "pack saddle" to the horses' back with thongs of deerskin, and on this lashed great piles of such goods as they wished to bring with them. Sometimes, children that were neither too large nor too small, were bundled in blankets or bedding and slung to the pack saddle.
The first care after arrival was to provide a house. Usually in the Reedy colony the first house was built a half faced pole building about ten by sixteen feet, roughly built of poles such as two or three men could easily handle. If it was summer, thee shacks were not "chunked and daubed" at all, but if they had to wintered in, they were made tight up to the square, and a loft of split boards was laid on pole joints. These were, however, only temporary residences. As soon as the pioneer got fairly established, he built a more substantial cabin of heavier logs - beech, oak, poplar, sugar tree, or whatever came handiest.
These were generally floored with puncheons split from oak, poplar or lynn, and hewed on one side with broadaxe or axe. Sometimes the earth was leveled off, and soon became packed hard from tramping.
The walls were chinked with split timber and daubed with mortar made of clay. The door, occasionally there were two, was made of thin puncheons pinned or nailed, if nails could be had, to cross pieces called "battens", and hung with clumsy wooden hinges.
The door was fastened with a wooden latch, which was lifted by a thong of buckskin proverbially left hanging on the outside.
The window was made by sawing out about three feet of one of the logs, then putting in some kind of pieces or braces, and, in place of glass, they used paper - and oiled it with bear oil, hog fat, or possum grease, and fastened it on the upright pieces. This would admit a considerable amount of light, and resist the rain tolerably well.
The roof was made of clapboards from four to six feet long, riven with a frow from some straight grained oak tree, and laid on log ribs and held in place by heavy weight poles, the lower end of which projected far enough beyond the board to be "withed" fast to the lower rib. These roofs were not very satisfactory, being - unless the ribs and slope timber were very large - too flat to shed water well. They soon rotted where the poles lay across them, catching leaves and impeding the flow of water, and retaining moisture.
The chimneys were usually laid up with flag rock or cobblestones, and were so wide and low they admitted a good deal of light and cold when the fires were low. The fireplaces were wide and deep, taking in huge backlogs six feet long, against which, in cold weather, were piled immense quantities of wood. The one article which could be had in abundance. Yet the heat was thrown but little farther back than across the broad flag stone hearth rock.
Sometimes there would be built into the wall of the fireplace, a rudely fashioned swinging iron crane, on which was suspended the various kettles and pots for the boiling of meat and vegetables, or for sugaring off maple syrup.
Occasionally these pot trammels and hooks were made of wood, but these did not prove satisfactory, being so frequently burned off.
There were, in some of these backwoods cabins, andirons for supporting the "forestick", perhaps carried across the mountains on a pack horse or made by the blacksmith of the settlement. Commonly, however, convenient rocks served to support the wood, and the wood itself, supported the pot.
The house having been built, the next care was to fit it with furniture. For beds, at first the commonest pattern was a single post, with rails of a split wood, or a round pole inserted in augur holes and driven into holes or cracks in the walls. On these rails were laid clapboard, the other end of which rested on cleats pinned to a log of the cabin wall. On these boards leaves were oiled. When practicable, the leaves were stuffed into a coarse linen tick. After a crop of wheat or oats was raised, straw was substituted for the leaves. When the floor was of earth, the corner post was simply a fork driven into the ground.
A more convenient style was the four poster, with detachable side rails, and cords for supporting the ticks. These were varied from round, split, hewn or scored timber, to turned and ornamentally carved, for it was not long before saw mills, whip saws and turning lathes brought these things within the reach of those who were able to afford luxuries.
The bed cords and much of the harness and ropes for other purposes were roughly spun at rope walks, and tanneries were established at widely separate points, which manufactured their leather. Skins of dear, raccoon, ground hog, ‘possum and other small animals were tanned at home.
Tables were of wooden puncheons or of plank. Chairs were three legged stools, sections of log set on end, or "sure enough" chairs with posts of sugar wood, hewed or turned, and bottomed with oak splits or hickory bark. Cup boards, safes and dressers were boards laid on pins driven in the wall in one corner of the room. For a bureau and closet, pegs were driven in the wall at the back end of the cabin, on which the clothes of the family were hung.
The stairway was a rude ladder placed in one corner, and leading to an attic, in which were stored dried fruit, pumpkins and beans, all of which were cured during the fall and early winter around the wide fireplace below. Frequently corn was piled on one side for bread for the family, and walnuts on the other side while "pokes" of hickory nuts, hazel nuts and bunches of pennyroyal, sage, boneset, catnip, peppermint, saffron and other "yarbs" were suspended from the ribs and on the floor, immediately over the hearth, beds were "made down". In the winter, boys slept here, and nothing was more comfortable for a cold winter night.
The cabins were of two patterns: the one, about sixteen by twenty feet, with a single room and attic loft, occasionally they were two stories high; and the other style consisted of two cabins, built end to end, about six feet apart, with the entry boarded up to form a sort of storeroom.
In the more pretentious of these cabins the logs were "butted off" smooth at the ends. Sometimes the walls were "scutched down", that is, scored and hewed after being raised. Later, many houses were built of hewed logs, and had rafters and split lathe for the roofs, while the gables were boarded up with clapboards. There was generally a wide porch in front, supported by end logs of the cabin, which were left to project ten or twelve feet, at a proper height for the plate of the porch.
Care was taken to select a building site convenient to a spring of water, and if a brook ran near, the cabins were built on its bank, and the limpid water served for the morning ablutions.
Of the utensils, there were kettles and pots of a peculiar flaring topped pattern. Ovens and skillets with lids, teakettles and frying pans, not to forget the ever present johnny cake board. Pewter plates and mugs were common. The old fashioned yellow ware was also much used. Most families had knives, forks and spoons, although hunting knives, butcher knives and other substitutes were often used.
There were some stoneware plates, bowls, cups and saucers, flowered in quaint and beautiful designs, but large chips or pieces of bark were often for plates, and sometimes a piece broken off of a johnny cake served to hold meat and vegetables. After they were consumed, the plate was eaten also.
Wooden casks, barrels, bowls, trays and buckets were in general use, while pewter mugs and gourds served for drinking vessels.
After the cabin was furnished, a cornfield was cleared in the rich bottom lands near the house, and plowed with a shovel plow and planted to corn. The harness was largely composed of dressed deerskin, hickory or leatherwood bark. Corn husks were flattened and sewed together for collars. The corn was tended mostly with a hoe, there being little to do but keep the butter weed and other wild weeds cut out.
When the ground was broken, it was with a wooden plow having an iron share riveted to it. The first iron plow brought into the colony was by John R. Callow, in 1836. It was No. 1 Woods patent bought at Ripley and stocked at home.
When Callow came to Reedy in February, 1883, he moved in a wagon, while Pickerell moved his belongings in a one horse cart.
Axes, broadaxes, mattocks, hoes, frows, and other necessary tools were made by the pioneer blacksmith. Guns were brought from abroad, but kept in repair by gunsmiths in the neighborhood, many of whom were quite skillful.
Powder was brought in from abroad, or manufactured at home. Lead was mostly carried in on pack horses, or boated with other goods up to Elizabeth. It is said, though, that there was a place on Turtle Run and another in the creek bank above Sandyville where they procured a supply of that indispensable article.
The corn field furnished the principal source of the bread supply. There was some wheat raised, but not much. The distance to a mill that could grind it was too great. Wheat grew well in the early days, when sown. It was reaped with sickles, and thrashed with flails on a thrashing floor prepared for that purpose. Sometimes horses were used to tramp out the grain, which was "let down" in the wind to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The corn was boiled or roasted when in the silk as a vegetable. When it was a little harder, it was grated on a grating board made by nailing a piece of punched tin to a board. This was after the introduction of tin buckets and nails. When the corn became dry enough to shell, it was manufactured into meal by grinding or pounding in a mortar.
The mortar was a block of wood or stump, the top of which had been chipped out hollow, and then burned smooth. In this basin the corn was pounded, if indoors, with a pestle, made of an iron wedge driven into a billet of wood. If outdoors, a stout hickory sapling was bent over the mortar and a heavy log swung to it, with a pin driven into it for a handle, by which one or two men could convert a bushel or more of corn into coarse meal in eight or ten hours. The "samp" was sieved through a "sarch", a sieve made by stretching a piece of deerskin over a wooden hook and perforating it with small holes. The coarsest of this was boiled for hominy. The finest was used for meal, for bread.
Most of the houses had a hand mill, which was used to manufacture meal at times of low water or when it was inconvenient to carry to grain to mill.
The meal was mixed into dough, and baked in an oven was "pone". If baked on a board before the fire, it became johnny cake. And if baked in round balls, these balls were called corn dodgers. Mush and milk was a common dish for supper.
"Johnny cake eaten with milk for supper," said Uncle Dave Lattimer, "was better than any pie."
In time of scarcity, the settlers on Reedy sometimes had to go several days without bread, and the children acquired the habit of calling dried venison "bread". While bear, deer, coon and turkey were "meat". The flesh of the little squirrel was neither, but just squirrel.
The surrounding forests furnished an abundant supply of meat and game of all kinds. The last deer killed was on Cabin Run, near Liverpool, in 1845 or 1846. Deer were found until as late as 1876. Wild turkeys disappeared earlier, but raccoons are with us yet.
"The dried venison or jerk," says Uncle Ephraim Carder of Little Trace Fork, "was made of venison hams cut in thin slices, strung on a smooth hickory stick, and carefully roasted or dried over a fire of hot oak bark coals." He once took a two bushel sack full of jerk to Ravenswood, and sold it for 12 ˝ cents a pound.
The pioneer would burn the woods over to make better pasture for the deer, and it was the custom in the fall, when bears were fat on chestnuts and beechnuts, to go out and kill enough to last through the winter.
The Reedy pioneers were not so primitive in clothing as their fathers in the mountain region, yet buckskin breeches and hunting shirts were not unknown among them, and moccasins were common.
The men wore woolen or linen cloth, both homespun and home woven. The female attire was also simple. Linen or imported cotton cloth for summer and homespun linsey or flannel for the winter season.
Flax was one of the staple crops until 1850 or later, and was broken, hackled, spun and woven at home. At one time a little cotton was raised, and woven into coarse cloth, but its culture on Reedy was not a success.
There is nothing definite in regard to prices in the Reedy colony, but they would appear to have been very high. Salt was carried in on pack horses from the Kanawha Salines, where it cost from twenty five cents to two dollars per sack. Sugar and syrup, they made from the sap of the sugar maple tree.
Tea was costly, and only used on "state" occasions, and coffee was not in favor as a beverage. Milk and teas made of sassafras, birch, sycamore and dittany, were used as table drinks.
Top of Page Return to Index Home