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Saturday, December 3, 2016

William G. Price to John Wesley Martin, 1856

Lawrenc County Missouria this the 10th of February 1856

Dear cozin I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present & hoping these few lines will find you & all connection & friends in that cuntry well. The peple is generally well here Aunt Hanner Muncy is well and well satestfied I think. Thomas P Robinson is well & well satestfied he is aliving at R P Andesons. I am aliving at John H Colleys & I have bin evry since I cam to this cuntry. I havnot ben over the cuntry mutch sinc I hav ben here I have ben in Green County & Dade County & ove Lawrenc write smart porton of it & Jasper County I hav bin in the edg of Jasper three or four miles there is sum as good land there as I every saw in my life that is the spring River bottoms it can be bought for 10 dollars pur aker that is improved land the up land is not so good it lays verry well it will perduse from 35 to 40ty bushels to the aker the farmers tell me so that has tride it. There is good land any direction you will go ther is good pravave land can be interd for one dollar per aker timber is sevse[?] here timber land can be bought for 5 to 7 dollars peur aker second handed. They is pore land her as they are there but it is not in cultivation for the farmers has to mutch good land to work [...] land I will tell you no more about the Cuntry for I expect Dave Price has give afull history of the cuntry to you

I want you to wright to mee what daivia said a bout this cuntry & about the folks that was living here right where R P A Price is & what they are a doing & what Marthy Chatman says about this cuntry & where the old man Price died in Kentucky & tell Mothers folks that I am well the hvtest that I ever was in my life is one hundred & eighty & Aunt Cilar Colley Splica the back of my vest this morning with the patch about 6 inches whide. It has been very cold this winter here the snow is a bout 15 inches at this time after a rane yesterday of a bout five hours. Tell James Chatman to wright to me for I would have written to him before now if I had of knew where to direct my letter to. I will look for John P Robinson and you next fall according to promis

Thomas P Robinson is a nocking around the girles like the dickens. I went a corting last Saturday was a week I never had been ther before after dark a while I cornerd on her and I asked her for her company & she turnd hur head to one sid and what do you think she said Y she said he he he. I set there about two hours and talked with all of my might all that she should say was he he he he & then I asked wat bed I slep in & she pointed hur finger I hauld of my britches & loped in & I said to my self spank spank.

Yess liked to forget I was in a hunting scrap the uther day they was 4 of us and wey kiled three deer but take notic I did not kill the first hate the next day or two wey all went out on a turky hunt and the brona ketcht three on horses

ExCuse bad wrighting and bad speling for the wether is very cold.

Direct your letter to Boweres Mill PO

Something more at present but remanes your friend and relation

William G Price to J W Martin
Lwrenc County Mo

Stalls Creek Mo
Feb 15th

Russell County Va
Rose dale PO
John W Martin

Sunday, November 20, 2016

List of Petit Jurors Drawn for the November Term of the Russell Circuit Court, 1875

Found in Chancery Court case 1875-28 is a list of jurors for the Circuit Court of Russell County in 1875. The case itself revolves around pre-War debts owed by Cummings G. Fletcher, a Civil War veteran. What I find interesting about this list is 14 of the 16 men are Civil War veterans (all but Jones and Gilmer.) For the entire county perhaps 1/3 of the men served in the War. By 1875 the number of adult men who served as a percentage of all adult men was probably quite a bit lower.

1. Samuel D. Williams
2. William P. Cooper
3. William H. Collins
4. J. M. Smith
5. Lilbern M. Wilson
6. B. F. Virmillion
7. Lorenzo D. Fletcher
8. John T. Howard

1. J. M. Price
2. Solomon Jones
3. Robert Cross
4. Nathaniel Dickenson
5. Randolph Fields
6. Silas Castle
7. John T. Candler
8. A. H. Gilmer

The majority of the debts owed by Fletcher were written before the War to other men who would serve. For example, this note to Alfred Slaughter:


Fletcher enlisted in the 37th Virginia Infantry on May 2nd, 1861 and was killed in action at the Battle of McDowell, Highland County, Virginia on May 8th, 1862.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The World War II Letters of Billy J. Campbell, Letter 5

May 20, 1945

Pvt. Billy J. Campbell 33666491
Co. I. 1st PLT. A. P. O. 21057
Postmaster San Francisco California

Mrs. W. B. Campbell
Lebanon, Va

Somewhere at Sea
May 20, 1945

Dear Mom,

How is everybody feeling there? Fine I hope. After a very mild case of seasickness I am feeling fine. I didn't get as sick as some of the boys. Some of the fellows hung over the rail for awhile, but most of them are feeling O. K. now. It just took awhile for them to get used to being tossed around.

The sun is really shining on this old Pacific to-day. We sure do like to see pretty weather so we can come on deck and look. We don't have much to do except sleep and eat. I volunteered for detail yesterday. I thought we were supposed to work a little ever day but we aren't working to day. We just work with a Navy crew doing odd jobs, mostly cleaning up. As long as we have something to do to pass the time away, it isn't so bad. We will get so lazy just lying around we won't be worth anything. A little guard and KP is all we will have to to and as long as I stay on the job I have now, I won't ever get that. I guess detail is about the same in the Army as the Navy. Yesterday I washed walls and scrubbed the deck.

Most of my buddys are still with me. At least we are going to be together for awhile longer. We have a great time lying around kidding somebody that is seasick. We shouldn't kid the boys though because it sure doesn't feel good to be seasick and can't eat. And then wehn you do eat, you don't keep it long. The bed is the only place to stay if you get sick. You don't notice the ship rocking there and then you are all right.

I guess that is about all I have to write this time. Tell Susy & Ham hello and don't worrk. Maybe I will have some mail waiting for me and then I will be O. K. I will write again when I can think of something to say.

I don't know when these will be mailed. They will probably be old by the time you get them.

Love
Bill

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Excerpts from "A minister in the Tennessee Valley, sixty-seven years" by Isaac Patton Martin

Excerpt from "A minister in the Tennessee Valley, sixty-seven years" by Isaac Patton Martin
CHAPTER
XIV

LEBANON: BARONIAL ESTATES AND
SMALL FARMS

IN OCTOBER, 1898, I was appointed to the Lebanon Circuit in
Russell County, Virginia. Although I had lived in Tazewell County
for six years, I had no acquaintance with Russell County, except
that I had driven through the county in the early summer of that
year. I at once made arrangements to move from Tazewell to
Lebanon, which lies only forty miles west of Tazewell. Lebanon was
a circuit with six appointments, with two small churches besides
Lebanon; two appointments were in schoolhouses. The Church at
Lebanon was one of the most interesting that I have ever served. It
was not a large congregation, but it was composed of an unusual
group of men and women of character, culture and ability comparable 
to any that I have known.

I at once got into contact with Mr. E. S. Finney and made an
appointment to go to Lebanon. He met me at Cleveland, the
nearest railroad point, and drove me to Lebanon, seven miles from
Cleveland. He took me at once to his home; and from that day until
his death our lives were as close together as two men could be. He
was one of the most remarkable men that I have ever known and
was the leader of the church at Lebanon. It is no reflection on others
to say that he was the leading man. There were at least a dozen other
men in the church who ranked with Mr. Finney in character and
ability, but none of them was ready to lead in any work that was to be
done as was Mr. Finney. And so unselfish and unpretentious was he
that there was ready response to his leadership. Then there was the
able and brilliant Judge William E. Burns, the sedate and depend
able Vincent B. Gilmer, and the fiery Capt. Henry Dickenson, to
name only a few. The list could be extended to about fifteen men
of middle age, who had grown up together and who knew and
respected each other, and worked together, and joked one another
and worshiped on two Sundays in the month. Lebanon was a six point circuit. 
It had not occurred to them that there was any reason
to have any other than a circuit. The people of the other five
"preaching places" were their neighbors, nearly all of whom they
saw every Saturday afternoon. All lived close by, on terrible roads,
with plenty of rocks, but no pavements.

But the mud and the hills and the boulders were no impediment to coming to 
town on Saturday afternoon. As a matter of fact none of us were disturbed 
by the condition of the roads. It never occurred to us, in 1898, that we
should ever have any other kind of roads.

Lebanon was the county seat of Russell County. It lay along
both sides of the main road, east and west, for about three quarters
of a mile; and along a road which crossed the main road from
directly in front of the Methodist Church, about five hundred feet
south of that road, and proceeded north about half a mile and then
followed the hollow through the Negro section. Most of the buildings
were old; but there were a few comfortable modern residences near
the courthouse and at the extreme borders along the highway. At
the southwest corner, where the road came up from the Methodist
Church, stood a landmark: the general merchandise store and home
of Samuel Aston, Esquire. The most vivid recollection of my journey
through Lebanon, a few months before I was sent there, was the scene
in front of "Aston's Store." About four hundred feet west of the
store the road abruptly doubles in width, and continues this width
until it passes the courthouse on the north and the blacksmith shop
on the south. This was a sort of courthouse square.

In front of "Aston's Store," in 1898, stood a row of ancient locust
trees, which spread their scant shade over the grass which covered
that side of the roadway. On that lazy June afternoon a group of
middle-aged men lounged in chairs as we passed by. They were a
picture of placid contentment.

The old, one-story, frame store faced on the street, with a narrow
porch covering the sidewalk. The store extended south, with several
additions which marked its prosperous growth. On the east side a
few feet from the wall stood a long rick of cordwood which was kept
at full capacity at all times. On the west stood the residence, which
was an extension of the store building, but rose to two stories. There
was a comfortable entrance from the street, but there was direct
entrance also from the store.

Far more interesting than the store were Squire Aston and his
wife, who was affectionately called "Aunt Lucy" by those who knew
her well. Squire Aston had been a general merchant from the days
when goods were hauled by wagons, drawn by oxen or horses from
Richmond or Philadelphia. His hair and beard had long been white
as wool and his shoulders had stooped some with age, but he still
had an air of dignity that was respected by all. He was always well
dressed usually in black, and wore a becoming black derby. He
was a cordial host, but my recollection is that he was not attentive to
the services of the church.

Mrs. Aston lost none of her natural dignity by being called
"Aunt Lucy." She was a refined Virginia gentlewoman and a Methodist 
of the early days of the circuit riders. In her later years she
thought of Bishop A. Coke Smith as her ideal. Aunt Lucy was
rather short and stout, but her carriage was erect, and she always
carried her head high. She looked you straight in the face out of her
blue-gray eyes which were nearly always lighted up with friendly
smiles. She was never known to say anything unkind of anyone.
She had a genius for saying generous things of persons who were
under criticism. She was a most delightful hostess. For many years
she kept a Negro man, Herbert, to whom she entrusted the dietary
problems of the household. And, with the exception of being always
late, Herbert was the perfect chef. It could never be known when
the meal would be served, but it was always inviting when it was on
the table. The memory of that place always arises with the thought
of Lebanon.

By the side of Elbert Finney in his buggy, I arrived at Lebanon,
as the day was closing. We went straight to his home and were given
a hearty welcome by Mrs. Finney and their five small children. The
home was unusually large, with ample hallways and rooms. I felt
at once the warmth and amplitude of the hospitality of this family,
which was to become as my own home and so to continue for many
years. That night was one of pleasure and comfort which was to be
followed by so many other such experiences that it would be difficult
to distinguish the incidents of that night from others which came
later. After breakfast, the next morning, my host took me proudly
to the parsonage which stood near the church. The parsonage was
newly painted and newly covered with a Cortright tin shingle roof.
The parsonage stood on the north side of ten acres of blue grass,
which was a part of the parsonage property. It was an attractive-looking 
property. The front door was without a lock and when we
entered the narrow hall, I was at once struck by the fact that only
the paint and the roof showed the effect of recent renovation. When
we reached the kitchen, Mr. Finney was evidently shocked. The
building was so old that few were aware that it had been built a part
at a time, in three parts.

The kitchen was a log house, of a story and a half, and was the
oldest building then standing in Lebanon. To this had been added
two rooms, in front of the kitchen, and still many years ago, there
had been a second addition, which consisted of a small hall and a
room across the hall from the front room, with an additional story
above stairs, with three rooms. There was plenty of room. The old
log part of the building had been plastered on the inside and
weatherboarded on the outside so long ago that no one remembered
when it was done. The upper story had been used for a corncrib
and there was a foot or more of corncobs on the floor, which was
probably the record of ravages of the rats, which still swarmed in
the spaces between the logs of the old building. Mr. Finney was
speechless and so was I, until he asked me, "What do you think of
the parsonage?" My reply was: "Brother Finney, I do not see how
I can put my family into this house." What I lacked in tact, he
made up in courtesy: "Our people will be greatly surprised when
told that we need a new parsonage, after having spent above three
hundred dollars improving the parsonage last year," he said. As we
stood there in the old shell he presently said, "Something must be
done at once. I suggest that you say nothing about the condition
which we have found. I will, at once, call a dozen of our best men
to meet in my office and will bring as many as I can get together
to come with me to the parsonage and see it for themselves." I got
safely out of the way, knowing full well that those men were likely
to say things that it might be just as well, for the record, that I
should not hear. Mr. Finney succeeded that morning in getting a
representative group of men to go with him to the parsonage.
Among these men was William E. Burns, who besides being a
steward in the church was one of the most devout worshipers in the
congregation, whose prayers had a quality which was an inspiration to
the entire congregation. He was a very able lawyer; afterward he
was Circuit Judge for many years. He was a man of ready wit,
which made him a most agreeable companion. He was a recognized
leader in the entire region. After his first shock at seeing the 
condition of the building he was keenly amused at the idea that he had
thought the parsonage in good condition. As he climbed the stairway,
followed by the others, old timbers creaked and the old floor and
walls shook. When he reached the "company bedroom" he noticed
how the floor shook. He was a stout figure. Placing himself in the
center of the room, he stood and shook the whole structure until the
laughter of the entire group rang throughout the house.
Before this group left the house enough money was pledged to
assure a new parsonage. Mr. Finney brought the good news when he
came home to luncheon. I arranged to occupy part of the old parsonage
until the next spring, so we left the old kitchen to the rats,
after cleaning it up so as to leave them no rations, and they soon
found rich commissaries in the grain cribs nearby. We moved in
and lived there until spring at which time we were ready to tear
down the old house and build anew. The house was quickly built by
the skilled hands of John Ketron and his brothers, all of whom were
sturdy Methodists. I rented a little cottage opposite the Routh home,
and here my first daughter was born on the first day of October, 1899.
My predecessor at Lebanon was Rev. J. W. W. Shuler, who with
his entire family was greatly honored. His wife died at Lebanon;
and after a brief time he married Miss Mary C. Ketron. The praise
of his family was upon all lips.

A new church had been built on Big Cedar Creek, in the Ferguson 
community, near Clinch Mountain. Henry Bascom Ferguson,
though not a member of the church at that time, was a leader in
building the church, and the church was named Bascom Methodist
Church, in honor of his generosity in promoting its erection. He
was converted while I was serving there and I received him into the
church. Most of the land in that fertile cove belonged to the
Fergusons, who inherited it from their father, Anthony Ferguson.
His sons: John Tommy, Charles William, Henry Bascom, Joseph M.
and Walter M., owned large farms; but a large part of the people
who attended Bascom Church had small homes in the mountain
coves. Mr. and Mrs. Bascom Ferguson and Mr. and Mrs. Walter
Ferguson were the "standbys" of the church. Their homes were
open to the preachers and, when the church doors were
opened, they were always there for services. The church was nearly
always full, though it was a little difficult to know where some of the
people came from. It was probably true that no other church in the
circuit served its community so well as Bascom. Two other men
should always be held in reverent memory as among the influential
members of Bascom Church — George Ayers and Alexander Garrett
were God's noblemen.

Munsey's Chapel, in Carter's Valley, six miles west of Lebanon,
was one of the old churches of the circuit. Its membership had never
been large. Nearly all that valley was owned by two or three large
landowners, whose homes stood lonely in the midst of thousands of
acres of rolling blue grass boundaries. The church occupied a
beautiful site on the north side of the road about three quarters
of a mile from the large old mansion of Esquire Dale Carter, in
full view on the southeast, the only residence in view from the
church. My first visit to the Carter home was to attend a funeral.
When I reached the circuit I learned that Mrs. Sallie Carter Pennis
was with her niece, Mrs. Sallie Bird, who was ill at Johns Hopkins
Hospital in Baltimore. I had not met either of them. Mrs. Bird died
in Baltimore; and I was called to attend the funeral. When I reached
the home I was met by Mr. Henry Carter Stuart, a nephew of Mrs.
Pennis. He took for granted that I was acquainted with the family
and merely opened the door to the hall. The first person to greet me
was a tall elderly man of distinguished and dignified appearance.
He spoke a strong foreign brogue, not one word of which I was able
to understand. I greeted him and listened attentively until I should
get my bearings. Happily, a young lady from Lebanon came to me
and introduced me to the tall stranger and to others who were
present. The tall stranger was Mr. Pennis, who had married Miss
Sallie Carter, aunt of Mrs. Bird, whose funeral I was to conduct.
It was a rather difficult service for a young man to hold. I was a
total stranger to the entire family; and this was my first time in the
home. The family was a distinguished family; and the death of the
young and beautiful wife brought many friends from far and near.
The service was simple and unpretentious and we buried Mrs. Bird
in the family cemetery in the midst of the meadow land in front of the
imposing Carter home.

It was my privilege to be a guest in this home on many occasions
during the four years following this visit to the house of mourning.
Mrs. Pennis was a most delightful hostess. Indeed she soon made me
feel perfectly at home in her house. Descended from cultured
ancestors and reared in luxury, she was perfectly at ease in any presence. 
She was a large woman with rather slow movement and leisure
ly speech, but she was a most delightful and charming conversationalist. 
The family consisted of Mrs. Pennis, Mr. Pennis, Mr. Dale
Lampkin, her nephew, and Mr. W. W. Bird, who was left a widower
by the death of Mrs. Bird. Mrs. Pennis, who had been reared in this
home and who had lived here from childhood imparted an atmosphere of 
permanence to the household.

Mr. and Mrs. Pennis had married rather late in life. Mr. Pennis
was born in Holland and had been educated in engineering. He
had entered government service in early life and had spent most of
his life in the engineering enterprises of Holland. He was probably
retired from government service when he met Miss Carter. After
marriage he made his home with his wife at the Carter home. I
became well acquainted with him and came to have sincere esteem
and affection for him.

He and Mrs. Pennis seemed well fitted to each other and lived 
together in quiet dignity and domestic complacency. 
Mrs. Pennis was the only member of this family who was a
member of the church at Munsey's. But all of the other members
contributed to the support of the services there.

Around a curve to the west of the church stood the Wagner home.
Mrs. Wagner and her daughter were members of the church. Then
on the south side of the ridge "in Brushy" lived Patton Fogleman,
a simple humble man, who was a devoted Methodist. This made up
the constituency of Munsey's Chapel in the midst of a fertile valley
of bluegrass pasture land.

I preached at Munsey's in the afternoon of one Sunday in each
month to a very small group of people. I sometimes had a few days'
meeting in the summertime. I very well remember one of the
services of such a meeting. Mrs. Martin and our children were with
me; and Mrs. Pennis went with us in the surrey. When we reached the
churchyard the church was not open and there was no one in sight.
Mrs. Martin suggested that it was needless to get out of the surrey;
but I said, "Yes, we will have preaching." So I hitched "Muggins"
to a tree and we entered the church. No one else came — only three
adults and four children. But presently there was a Holy Presence
and we all rejoiced in Him. Mrs. Pennis often spoke, and wrote,
of it as a most blessed experience.

Just off the highway from Lebanon to Abingdon, four miles from
Lebanon, stood the old Willis Chapel. There had long been a little
settlement along the ravine and creek which runs across this thin,
rocky section: there were more people living in their little homes
than could be found in a similar area of fertile land. There was a
corn mill, a carding machine and a store. Long years afterwards the
old church was torn down and a new one was built in its place. It
was difficult to devise any plan which could secure the support of
those who desired to lead: and progress was long delayed. Most of
the families who lived there moved away to other places.

Two miles east of Lebanon the highway crosses Big Cedar Creek
on a bridge which spans the creek and rests on high ledges of lime
stone on either side. Until recent years the bridge at this place was
covered and was always known as "The Bridge," and the community
came to be known as "The Bridge." We had a small group there
which had always worshiped in the public schoolhouse; it is known
as the "Bridge Church." The land west of the bridge has long been
known as the flats. The land all about the Bridge has belonged to the
Gilmore family, who have owned this land from early pioneer days.
The first of the line was William Gilmore, whose son was Rev.
William Gilmore, Jr. Cummings Gilmore, son of William, Jr., was
born March 9, 1799. He had a large family. At the time of his death
in 1876 he was possessed of land known as the Gilmore estate. At
that time his oldest living son, Charles Haze Gilmore, stepped into
his father's shoes and acted as the head of the family and applied the
right of primogeniture from that time until 1926, shortly before his
death. At the time of his father's death the estate consisted of 416
acres of land, to which were added other adjoining lands, which
were deeded to him in his own name. For fifty-four years the entire
business was operated after this fashion, to the satisfaction of all
concerned. Four brothers, three of them married, with their children,
and a sister, all lived on and shared in all the labors of the farm,
and were perfectly satisfied. All business was carried on in the name
of Charles Haze Gilmore, from the smallest to the largest purchases.
This strange arrangement moved without friction through more than
half a century. It is a very remarkable case of family solidarity and
unity. The property is still operated as a unit by descendants of
Cummings Gilmore.

The Church at the Bridge was as static as the Gilmore estate. They
had preaching once a month and maintained a small Sunday school.
Thomas J. Gilmore, the youngest son of Cummings Gilmore, was
the most active of the Gilmore brothers in the affairs of the church,
as his wife, Emma, was the most active woman. When I first met
them they were living in a comfortable log house near the horse barn.
They later moved into another log house across the creek from the
barn. They lived comfortably and well. "Aunt Emma" was a lovely
housekeeper and was famous for her skill as a cook. Their home was
the center of good fellowship in the community. They were hosts to
more preachers than any other home in that region. Aunt Emma was
an organist and led the singing. Young people were always responsive 
to her leadership. Mrs. Martin and I became closely attached
to them. Our first daughter, Mary Blair, was born on October 6,
1899, in the little rented house, only five days before Conference
was to meet at Bluefield. When Aunt Emma heard of the birth of the
baby she drove in to see Mrs. Martin and the dear little girl. As she
sat talking she asked if I was ready to go to Conference. I answered
rather dolefully: "I have no one to take care of my wife; and I must
stay with her and take care of her." Without a moment's hesitation
she said: "You go right ahead to Conference; and I will come in
and stay with Mrs. Martin while you are away." Even I could see
that, if Aunt Emma would stay with Mrs. Martin, she would be far
better off than if I stayed at home.

Aunt Emma came in, took charge, and cared for Mrs. Martin and
when I returned from Conference she took our second son, who
was only twenty-two months old, and kept him until his mother was
able to be up again. Aunt Emma had adopted us and to the end of
her days we belonged to her and she to us. No other family has ever
been closer to our hearts than "Uncle Tom" and "Aunt Emma."
Dear Tom Gilmore died a few years after we left Lebanon and Aunt
Emma was left alone; her only child, Frank, a young doctor, went
before his father. Left alone, she moved away from the old log house.
I often pass that way; and from the Bridge look fondly at the log
house, still standing near the creek, in the midst of the bluegrass
pasture. Neither years nor sorrows can darken the memories of the
sweet friendships which ripened within the walls of that old house.
Such friendships have no ending.

Vincent B. Gilmore, one of the brothers of Charles Haze Gilmore,
was one of the leaders of Lebanon, both in civic and religious affairs.
He married Miss Ellen Kelley, daughter of Judge John A. Kelley.
She is still living at ninety-one years of age, adorning the church in
her old age as she has done from her youth.

The eastern part of Russell County was, from pioneer days, the
most attractive part of the county. Seven miles east of Lebanon lies
Elk Garden, one of the most fertile and beautiful spots in the 
bluegrass section of Virginia. This part of the county was settled by
industrious and prosperous pioneers. The descendants of these 
pioneers had multiplied; and had subdued the valleys, and coves and
mountain sides, so that by 1850 their comfortable homes occupied
every part of what is known as Elk Garden; across the entire valley,
from Clinch Mountain, and including Rich Mountain, and stretching
nearly to Belfast. This lovely body of land attracted the attention of
a very able and enterprising man whose business operations brought
him to Saltville, Virginia, across Clinch Mountain to the south of
Elk Garden. At the beginning of the Civil War Mr. W. A. Stuart
was associated with others in the manufacture of salt under the firm
name of Stuart, Buchanan and Company. William Alexander Stuart
was the son of a prominent lawyer of Patrick County, Virginia. He
married Miss Mary Taylor Carter, daughter of Dale Carter of Russell
County.

Mr. Stuart began the purchase of farm land in Russell County in
1867. He purchased land from seventy-five or more landholders in
Russell County between 1867 and 1880, and thus he acquired 45,000
acres of land. This was subsequently increased to 67,000 acres, some
of which was timbered land in adjoining counties. He invested
largely in other properties elsewhere, being a large stockholder in
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. In 1884 the Stuart Land and
Cattle Company was incorporated, but Mr. Stuart seems to have
controlled the property until his death in 1892. The estate was
wound up in the midst of one of the worst panics in American history.

Henry Carter Stuart, the eldest son of William A. Stuart, succeeded 
in reorganizing the Stuart Land and Cattle Company and
holding the landed estate together. He managed this property with
great success until his death. Henry Carter Stuart was a man of great
ability and was recognized in his election to the office of Governor
of the State of Virginia. After the death of Governor Stuart the estate 
was sold, but is still held in several large blocks.
The passage of seventy-five years, during which forty-five thousand acres 
of the best land in Russell County was held and operated
by a corporation, had deeply affected Russell County, especially in
that part where this great body of land lies.
It is impossible to move seventy-five or more families from contiguous 
communities without changing the social structure of those
communities. Every institution, the church, the school, the whole
social structure feels the loss of the very materials of which they are
built.

The Elk Garden Circuit appears for the first time, in the Journal
of 1881, when W. W. Hicks was sent there as pastor. Elk Garden
had probably been included in the Lebanon Circuit prior to 1881.
The number of churches in that circuit appears for the first time in
1882, when five churches were reported for Elk Garden Circuit. Elk
Garden and the Loop are the only churches of which I have knowledge 
in the area covered by the Stuart Land and Cattle Company estate.
The story of the conversion of W. A. Stuart is told by Dr. R. N. Price. (Vol. 5, Page 442.) 
Mr. Stuart belonged to the Elk Garden Church for many years. 
He sometimes rode fifteen miles from Saltville to 
Elk Garden to meet his Sunday school class on Sunday
morning. It was his rule to pay one half of all financial obligations
of his church, and he gave freely of his means to all institutions of
the church. He was a most genial companion, and made friends of
people of every station in life, and was a man noted for his hospitality.
I remained at Lebanon for four years. Rev. W. C. Garden was
Presiding Elder of the Big Stone Gap District during the first two
years. He was a man of culture and devotion and was greatly beloved
throughout the district. My nearest preacher neighbors were the
occupants of the parsonage at Elk Garden. Rev. and Mrs. Charles W.
Kelley were there when I went to Russell County. We became good
friends as we labored and visited; and our friendship ripened with
the later years. Rev. S. B. Vaught followed Brother Kelley at Elk
Garden and we held meetings and worked together there as we had
done before in Tazewell County.

Our stay at Lebanon was peculiarly happy. Our people received
us so cordially that we were soon perfectly at home with them. Mrs.
Martin won all the hearts by her cordial friendliness and the radiant
devotion of Christian love. Our two little girls were born in Lebanon;
and the good neighbors shared the labors and responsibilities for
the care of the little girls and the two boys who were older. Mrs.
E. S. Finney and "Aunt Emma" Gilmore were so constantly thought
ful of Mrs. Martin and the children that we were under constant
obligations to them while we were their neighbors in Lebanon. In
after years our children were many times guests in these homes
during summer vacations.

Four years passed swiftly. There was reasonable success in nearly
all phases of church life. I was glad to remain there for the four
years, which was then the time limit. As the end of the fourth year
approached, my presiding elder and friend, Rev. John E. Naff,
talked very freely with me concerning my appointment for the
following year. We had been warm friends for several years, and
our wives were devoted friends. Our work together was always con
genial. His visits to our home were anticipated with pleasure. He
asked me what I had in mind as to my appointment for the next year.
I told him, quite frankly, that I thought I should move out of the
district and gave him my reason for so thinking, viz.: I had been
for ten years on the northeast border of Holston Conference, with
but short distances between my appointments. I had reached a
definite conviction that it was better for a preacher to widen the
range of his appointments so as to become widely acquainted in
every part of the Conference. When Conference was in session at
Wytheville he asked me to go with him to his room. He there re
quested me to ask to remain in his district. He said that he needed
me and that he believed I should have a better opportunity in that 
district than I should find elsewhere. I thanked him for his desire to
have me remain with him. I said to him: "Brother Naff, I have been
for ten years on the north side of Clinch Mountain and I love these
people dearly but, if I am ever to be of much value to Holston Con
ference, I must have the opportunity of intimate association with
other parts of the Conference. I want to be useful in the Conference-wide 
activities of the church. Having this conviction as to Confer
ence responsibility, I cannot willingly consent to remain longer in a
somewhat secluded section of Holston Conference." This incident
was something of a turning point of my life. I have known a number
of men to remain for many years in a small section of the Conference 
until they were afraid to take the risk of orienting themselves in
different environment.

I was moved to the Sweetwater Circuit on about the same general
level as the Lebanon Circuit; but the change in some ways was very
radical. At any rate it brought me into new environments which
were fruitful in friendships and in new economic and social experiences.
Mrs. Martin and the children had spent the summer with her
mother and sister at Trentville, having been there since early in
July. It was now the middle of October. In order to relieve Mrs.
Martin from the labor of packing and moving I went back alone to
Lebanon. I was to be followed by Dr. D. S. Hearon and his lovely
family; and it was most gratifying to me to turn over the comfort
able parsonage to them.

I went to work and packed everything for shipment by rail. It
was past the middle of October when the wagons delivered my goods
at Cleveland for shipment to Sweetwater.

I had two horses. For four years Muggins had been our faithful
family horse. He was equally useful under the saddle or in the shafts
of the surrey. He was a big gray horse and was known far and wide
as the best double purpose horse in the country. He had not a
single bad habit, and was not afraid of anything. He was a part of
our family. The other horse was but three years old, and was a
beautiful red sorrel with flaxen mane and tail. He was gentle and
well accustomed to the saddle, but had little experience in harness.
I arranged to drive these two horses, in the surrey, to our new home
at Sweetwater. After the wagons drove off, I got my horses ready,
and went into the parsonage to get my baggage for the trip. When
the bags were closed and the doors of the house were locked, I
picked up my bags and looked around to see if everything was all
right. As I lingered in the house which I had built and in which
we had lived for three years, there swept over me a flood of tender
memories which completely overcame me. I realized that we
should never be there again as we had been there in those tenderest
days in the life of a family. I suppose that I was moved vicariously for
my dear wife and our two sons and the two little girls, both born
there. It was such an experience as no other departure had ever
brought to my heart. As I write of it, nearly fifty years later, its
sweetness and sadness lingers in my heart.

After a few moments I walked out and locked the door. Muggins
and Lord Russell were ready to go and I drove out and was on my
way. I was to stop at John Wagner's for luncheon. When I reached
there I had a telephone call from Henry G. Gilmore, who told me
that his uncle, Judge Joseph L. Kelly, had asked him to buy Muggins
for him. I told Henry I was on my way to Sweetwater with both
horses and could not sell one alone; but that he might call me an
hour later. Before his call came I had an offer to buy the other
horse, Lord Russell. Almost before I knew it, I had sold the two
horses and the surrey and harness. I rode Muggins to Bristol and
turned him over to Judge Kelly. It has been a disappointment to
me through the years that Muggins' health failed. He was such a
horse as I have never seen the equal. Ten years later I had the
privilege of riding Lord Russell, now a famous sire, in company with
Elbert Finney, on a week's outing of two hundred miles on horse
back. The memory of those days with such a man and on the back
of such a horse fills me with joy.




Thursday, October 6, 2016

Lebanon Baptist Church, 1853

From the February 7, 1930 issue of the Lebanon News:

Lebanon Baptist Church Erected In Year 1853

An old book handed us a few days ago by Charles C. Alderson, of Lebanon, contains the list of those contributing to the building of the Lebanon Baptist Church. The agreement and contributors names appear below:

"We, whose names are hereto annexed, do promise and bind ourselves to pay to Vincent Jessee, Elihu Kiser and Thos. C. M. Alderson the sums subscribed in order to erect a neat and capacious brick Baptist meeting house in the town of Lebanon. November 15, 1853:

Subscribers names:

Vincent Jessee $100.00
Jefferson Jessee 75.00
Archer Jessee 50.00
William Frickson 25.00
Leonard Shoemaker 25.00
Abram Childers 50.00
William E. Frick 15.00
Alderson & Kernan 50.00
Robert Boyd 25.00
Robert M. Fields 10.00
M. C. Logan 10.00
Wm. Fields (if built) 50.00
Aaron Hendricks 2.50
Thos. D. Boyd 5.00
Thos. Davis 2.50
H. S. Gibson 5.00
Sam W. Aston 20.00
Isaac Davis (in work) 5.00
T. C. Alderson 20.00
F. G. Catron (in work) 5.00
E. B. Price (in work) 10.00
J. F. Boyd (in work) 20.00
T. D. Kernan 5.00
Francis Lark 5.00
N. S. Brattin (in tailoring) 5.00
Charles D. Boyd 5.00
James A. Austin (in work) 5.00
Peter B. Henritze 5.00
Marcus Tunnell, 1 pr. shoes 2.50
J. F. McElhany 20.00
S. W. Aston 10.00

Subscribers toward dedication of church:

Mrs. N. B. Gray 2.00
Vicy Leece 1.00
Margaret Leece 1.00
Mrs. Henritze 1.00
Mrs. M. Lark 1.00

A few other names were written in the age old book but the time worn pages made it impossible to read, and a few other names had been gnawed away by rats.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

1846 Lebanon Letter

From the Lebanon News of April 7, 1939:

Letter Written In Lebanon In 1846 Turns Up

Our good friend, John W. Alderson, of Forrest City, Arkansas, one of the boys of other days, who played first base on the Lebanon ball team more than 40 years ago, and made good at that, as well as in the business world, has an old letter written by William B. Aston to Margaret Alderson, the daughter of Colonel George Alderson, July 8, 1846, which will be of interest to many of our readers. It is as follows:

Dearest Margaret:
Pursuant to my promise, I now write to you. I did not get home in time to write to you by last Tuesday's mail, and consequently this is the first opportunity. I arrived at Lewisburg the evening I left you and took quarters at Rev. John McElhaney's. I remained there until the next Thursday morning. I did not mingle much with the people of Lewisburg. I found it to me rather a dry, uninteresting place. I called on James Remley and found him and his family quite interesting.

Charles L. Creigh was from home. I did not see him. Frank and myself were at the old man Creigh's, but Charley nor Lewis being there, we didn't tarry long.

I visited the white Sulphur on Wednesday which I found a beautiful and pleasant place. We left for home Thursday morning and arrived here on Saturday evening. I reached home in very bad health, and have been so ever since, but, having gone through a course of medicine, I think I am about well now, except that I am very weak from the effects of the medicine. In a day or two more I am in hopes I will be fully restored.

I hope you are in good health and spirits, entirely cheerful and lively, having nothing on earth to disturb your quiet and repose.

Upon consulting with Thomas, we came to the conclusion that it was best to put off our marriage until the 18th day of August, as to set an earlier day would not give Thomas an opportunity to visit his friends or even stay a day at his Pa's, and by fixing on the 18th we will give him sufficient time after our court to visit all his friends and be ready to return with us to Russell. I hope this arrangement will meet with your approbation. Please inform your Pa of it.

Time drags somewhat heavily with me, but it is only a little more than a month now ere I see you again, by divine permission, when I hope we will meet not to be parted soon, except as the ordinary business of life shall require.

Permanent happiness on this earth we need not expect, but I think we can live together and enjoy our fair proportion of earthly happiness. It is true our path is not be be bestrewed all the way with roses; we need not expect that. There will, no doubt, be many thorns in our path. We have all the inconveniences and troubles that poverty bring to content with from the start, but if we try properly to cheer each other up and smooth each other's path through life, as we should do, we will find that those anticipated difficulties will vanish as we approach them.

I have no news of interest to give you, therefore will give you none.

Your friends here generally well. I have had many inquiries made MADE of me since my return about &c. &c., and some mistaken friends have wished me joy.

I expect Mack and Augustus and Doc't Kernan will probably come with me, though I have not yet said anything to them about it. I will expect by tomorrow week's mail to receive a letter from you and will answer it immediately, and, being this evening somewhat in a bad condition for writing, I hope you will excuse this dry, uninteresting epistle, and believe me to be, dearest, your devoted and affectionate friend.
WILLIAM B. ASTON

Give me love to Sarah Martha. Write when you receive this.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

World War I Letters of Russell County, February 15, 1918

The following letter appeared in the February 15, 1918 issue of the Lebanon News. Shoemaker had won a sweater in a contest sponsored by the Mitchell-Smith Company, of Bristol.

"Somewhere in France.
January 12, 1918

Mitchell-Smith & Co.,
301 State Street,
Bristol, Va.,-Tenn:

Dear Sirs - Received sweater few days ago; was more than glad to get it, and if there is any place on the globe that sweaters are needed it is sure where I am at. We have and are having some awful cold weather, so therefore the sweater comes in mighty nice. It is to be hoped we won't have to spend another winter in France, but who knows what the future will bring?

Wish I could write you where we are and how things seem to be going, but that's impossible.

Again, I thank you for the sweater, or at least, thankful for the luck I have had.

With best of good luck to you all.

Yours truly,
REYNOLDS S. SHOEMAKER.
First Co. 117th T. H. & M. P."