November 1, 1924
“Pioneer Recollections”, pages 129-130
by Elihu Jasper Sutherland
Reprinted with permission of William Sutherland
I was born in Patrick County, Virginia, March 9, 1833. I came to Sand Lick in the fall of 1854 – September – and taught a subscription school there that year. I married Crissa Deel on the 12th of the next April.
Most of the first settlers around Sand Lick came from the Clinch section, now in Russell County. Dick Colley was the first, and he settled where Jerry Stinson now lives. After him came Joe Counts, John Fuller and Jonas Rasnick. John Fuller settled on Fuller Hill, near Hugh Davis’ present residence, but later he moved to Levisa River in Buchanan County where he died about two years after I married. The Viers came from Patrick County also. Lewis Viers was the first and he came before I was married – I am sure in the fall of 1854. He first settled on Lick Creek where D. B. Sutherland now lives, then moved from place to place until he settled down on Viers Ridge. His father Sam died and was buried on Viers Ridge. The Turners, Cannadys and Gillenwaters’ came from Patrick or Franklin County.
My wife often told me she had heard the wolves come down the Fork Ridge to the salt lick at the mouth of Lick Creek. She was a child then, staying with her grandfather, Dick Colley. She heard them kill an old sow near there. There were no wolves here when I came.
Then everybody wore homespun. It was made from flax, and sheep’s wool, which were raised by the settlers. I did not have store-suit before I was married. We all wore moccasins, made of groundhog-hide or deer-skin. Our hats were made of wool, and the nearest hatter lived at Lebanon. These hats were heavy and lasty. Some straw hats were made by hand. All houses were made of logs, and the little furniture we had was handmade from boards made with a whipsaw. Bedsteads were made of wood, and cords drawn through auger-holes in the bed-railings served as springs. The bedticks were made of tow and fitted with flax and tow. A few people had feather-beds, but they were rather thin. The women-folks made coverlets and quilts. The coverlets were woven on looms. Each family had a loom and spinning wheels for home manufacture of necessary articles of wearing apparel. The makers of these looms and wheels lived on Clinch River.
The food of the settlers was mostly corn-bread and meat. Most of the meal was ground on water-mills, a great part of it being taken to the better mills of Clinch. A few had hand-mills to grind their meal in very dry seasons. The meat used at the table was practically all wild meat – that is, from bears, deer and hogs. The hogs were usually allowed to fatten on the fine mast in the woods, and they often became very skittish and wild. My father-in-law, David Deel, often told me: “My biggest day’s hunt was four deer and one bear. I got that several times, but never could do better.” I never killed a deer in my life. Just after I came to Sandy I went with Mr. Deel on some of his hunting trips, but he always out-traveled me – I was too awkward in the woods. He often spied the deer while I was lying down, and often killed it before it could see him; but the only ones I ever saw were showing me their white tails. I didn’t hunt, but a day or two until I decided I wasn’t made for a hunter. The bread was made from corn, rye and wheat, and the coarse meal or flour was separated from the fine by a “sarch” or sifter.
The settlers who could afford then owned a horse or two, but there were few mules. There was a lot of cattle and hogs. They lived in the woods mostly. There were some sheep, but the wolves made the people keep them in pens at night. We had two big cattlemen in Sandy – Jim Colley and Andy Owens. They always had big droves in the woods, and often drove them to the eastern markets.
All the houses were made of logs. They had no plank in the early days. The houses were covered with boards riven from the forests. There were few iron nails at first. The boards were laid on the roof loose, and then held in place by waightlogs. The people had little fruit. Dick Colley had a little orchard in the bottom below his house. We had a right smart plays, fiddling and dancing. They were usually following log-rolling and weddings. Andy Kiser was our best fiddler. Banjoes were not used when I came here. The only guns they had were flint-locks, but they could hit nearly anything with them. Isaac Moore, who lived on Pound River, was the only gunsmith in this section. At weddings there were big crowds. They were usually married at the bride’s home, where they stayed that night usually having an all-night party there. The next day was called the infair and they spent it at the groom’s home. There was some drinking, but I hardly ever saw anybody drunk. No whiskey was made in this section at that time. Sparrel Newberry made the first – that was after I came. We usually went to John Smith’s in Russell County to get brandy. I was sold at fifty cent a gallon – 10 cent a pint. It was used also for “Granny sprees”.
Sunday was a day of rest or amusement. Some people went hunting. Others attended meeting, if it was in reach. There were monthly meetings here at Sand Lick. When they had log-rollings it was common for the hands to go five or ten miles to them. Lots of folks came out from Russell County to log-rollings around here. Davy Deel would often go to the Chrissley Wampler’s on Wampler Ridge and vice versa. They often did this before breakfast.
I came here in 1854 – about the 1st of September. My father came here the same fall. I have lived here ever since. My parents were Lewis and Nancy (Howell) Edwards. Father was the first Baptist Preacher to live on the headwaters of Russell Fork.
The people here were not in favor of war during the Civil War. There was a right smart of scouting. I did awhile before we went in it. There was a muster ground at Sand Lick before and during the Civil War. John Hay played the fife, and __ Blair the drum. I first went into the State Line – which included all able-bodied men between 21 and 45 years of age. Noah Counts was at my place just before I went int. I named my son, Noah Counts Edwards, who was born along at that time, after Mr. Counts. Five days after his birth, I went with the militia to Grundy. General Floyd was our general. Jake Counts raised a company in State Line at Sand Lick and I joined it. When my son Miah was born Captain Counts gave me a furlough above the Salt Works, and I came home. Then my company went to Tennessee. In coming home, I had to surround the guard so I could get out. I met at least fifty soldiers but they did not interfere with my coming. I came to Josh Count’s at Cleveland the first night, then on home the next day. I didn’t go back for the war closed. Miah Yates and I drove a wagon team for provisions part of the time I was in service. I was made a second lieutenant in the State Line, but when it was re-organized I joined Captain Counts’ company in the 21st Virginia Cavalry. We were located at Logan, West Virginia, awhile. The courthouse there had just been burned by the Yankees. Captain Counts’ company had some fighting there and on Dismal. During the war some Yankees came to Uncle Charley Anderson’s above Sand Lick; but here was no fighting in the country during the war.
The only roads we had were narrow paths. No wagons or even sleds. The old road let up Dumps Creek and down Frying Pan. Father lived awhile in a little house below Jack Jessee’s, and he moved out to Sandy on horseback. When Lewis Viers moved out he came that route. He came by the mouth of Roll Pone, and there one of his shoats gave out and he packed it a mile before he found out it was dead. There was a path from Sand Lick down by Haysi, up Prater, across on Bart Lick and on to Grassy – as it goes now. When Bruce Colley laid in goods at Sand Lick, he had to haul his goods from Abingdon by way of Honaker and down Russell Fork River.
I taught school sixteen or seventeen years at Sand Lick near Jim Belcher’s present home. I taught the first year I came here, then almost every year. They were subscription schools. I had about eighteen or twenty scholars and some of them had a long trip. Tom Wright and Andy Potter boarded in the neighborhood. Other teachers who had taught there before me were Joe Counts and Russell Duty. Joe Counts was the first. The rate each parent was charged was $1.00 per student per month. The school lasted from three to five months. Joe Kelly and E. S. Counts taught several schools at the Walk Counts place on Lick Creek. William F. Grizzle taught on Frying Pan. Mr. Grizzle, Mr. Counts and me also taught in the free schools. We were then required to make up our reports and send them in. None of our reports were ever turned down. The school houses were made of logs, with board roofs. There were no blackboards, and the students sat on split logs made into benches with pegs for legs. There were no glass windows. The cracks between the logs in the walls were filled with moss to keep the air out.
The games played at school were “bull-pen” and “base”. The teachers treated their students each year, sometimes on brandy or ginger-bread or apples. One time they caught me for not treating and got me over a pond, intending to duck me if I didn’t treat. I got a lot of fun out of it and then promised to treat and they let me loose.
The Baptist Church was the only church we’ve had at this place – Sand Lick. It was organized before I came here. The first one was made of logs and stood opposite the mouth of Lick Creek at the present Jackson Graveyard. Then it was moved to Tilda Anderson Branch. Ab Kiser built the house there and me and Lewis Viers built the stone chimney. David Deel was the first person baptized in the Russell Fork after the church was organized. John Smith was the first preacher. Other preachers were: A. D. Rakes, J. H. Rasnkick, Jim Smith, Lewis Edwards (my father), and Ab Kiser. Ab Kiser preached here once after I came. I never saw Jim Colley cry at meeting but twice, once when Ab Kiser preached at Sand Lick and once when my dad preached at Prater.
When the new county of Dickenson was formed, Jas Colley was in the Legislature. He helped to get the bill passed. Most of the people around here wanted the county-seat on McClure and they have not got really satisfied with it being at Clintwood.
In March, 1855, I went back to Patrick County to visit my people. It took five days to make the trip on horseback. I borrowed a mare from Dick Colley to make the trip. I treated the horse well and when I got back, Mr. Colley said it looked better than it did when I started, so he would not charge me anything for the use of the mare. I was gone eighteen days. The next month I married Dick Colley’s granddaughter, Crissa Deel.
Dog Branch was named because Dick Coley had a bear fight on that branch with his dogs. He had five dogs in the fight and some of them got killed.
Duty’s Branch was named for a man by the name of Tom Duty who used to hunt or scout on it. That was before I came here. He also had a clearing right near my home, at the head of Duty Branch, and this hill is called Tom’s Hill after him.
Road Branch was so named because one of our first roads ran down it. This road led from Sand Lick to Big Ridge and Holly Creek.
Dick’s Branch was named for Dick Colley, who settled near its mouth.
[Note: Andrew was wrong about the date that they came from Patrick County, VA to Russell (now Dickenson) County. The family appears in the 1850 Russell County, VA Census, so were in the county as early as 1850.]
Postscript: Edited version