Friday, October 30, 2009

The Good Grandma

by Donna Gloff

Along the southeastern edge of the Oil Creek watershed, around Knawls Creek, Orlando’s RFD postal route 2 takes in a small area that is drained by the Little Kanawha. It is in that area that James Edward Sands and Francis Willa Jackson had their farm in the early 1900s. Francis’ family had been pioneer settlers five or ten miles south of what would become Orlando. They came, like most of the area’s settlers, from the Valley of Virginia. Willa was a Riffle on her mother’s side while Jim was a cousin of P. N. "Uncle Zeke" Blake through the Sands family.

Francis and James married in 1906 in her parents’ home. Her name is listed as Nancy on the marriage certificate. She was 17 and James was 33. She called him Poppy. They had five children: Violet, Ada, Juanita, Willa Francis and Edward. Willa and James separated, then divorced. James and their son Edward stayed in Orlando. Father and son moved to Alaska for a time, but returned to the Orlando area.
Francis and their four girls went to Wheeling. In 1928 in Wheeling Francis remarried to a coal miner named Pete Krevich. They were both 39. Over the fireplace, in the living room of their home, hung the cross. On one side was a photo of Franklin D. Roosevelt, on the other side was a photo of John L. Lewis, the coal miner activist.
Left: from the internet, pictures of FDR, a crusifix and John L. Lewis.

Grandsons Remember
Francis’ grandsons remembers their granny with joy. She was a woman who could take care of herself, and took care of others, too. She could fire a young boy’s dreams of adventure, she loved pretty things and she was a great, "down home" cook. What more could a boy look for in a grandma?
A Cherokee Heritage
Her grandchildren learned from their grandmother of a Cherokee heritage. Grandson Doug remembers that every time Granny was disgusted with her taxes she’s threaten to move to the Reservation where she wouldn’t have to pay taxes. Grandson Noel remembers, "My Grandmother was very proud of her Cherokee blood and she was quite a character. Granny used to keep me and my cousins spellbound . . If I listened to Granny long I’d soon picture Cherokee’s dancing around their fire getting ready for the warpath." (Research has turned up no evidence of Native Americans in their lineage, but there are incomplete family lines that could go anywhere.)
Producing and Preserving
Doug Foster also recalls helping his grandmother produce and preserve food. "She’d start with 350 chicks. During the summer she would loose a few, so in the fall she had about 325 chickens to cold pack. She also kept a hog, but she didn’t butcher it, she sold it.

"I remember in the spring we’d plant corn and beans together. She would dig her shovel in to open a hole, and it was my job to drop in one corn and one bean. The beans were ‘Kentucky Wonders.’ The corn stalks would grow and the beans would grow right up to corn stalks. While the corn supported the beans, the beans added to the soil some of the nitrogen the corn needed."

Left: Corn and pole beans growing together
Right: Canned chicken. Doug says his granny left the bones in, these jars seem to hold boned chicken.
"I also remember helping her put up sauerkraut. She’s get sacks of flat dutch cabbages. She would cut them and I would shred them. Then she packed the shredded cabbage into 20 gallon crocks, filled the crocks with brine, and put a loose-fitting dinner plate on top of the filled crocks and weighted the plates with a rock. Later she would cold pack the sauerkraut."

Right: New shreded cabbage in a crock: first step to making kraut.
Left: Elderberries

Doug recalls gathering elderberries, blackberries and black raspberries for his grandmother.
Both men remember cooked field greens. Noel remembers "Granny positively loved going into the woods and hills close to Wheeling (approx. 1 & 1/2 miles) to forage for greens. She always took some of us kids with her. The reason I think was first we had a lot of stuff to carry and bring back and secondly I think Granny wanted to teach her younguns the skill and knowledge of picking greens the right way. When Granny picked greens we usually had a minimum of three big paper shopping bags. One was primarily for Danny's = Dandelions and cress = watercress. One was for various berries (polk. etc) and the third was for many other kinds of 'woods stuff' (sometimes barks, mosses, ferns.)"
Doug remembers that Granny would send him and his sister for dandelions. The Danny heads could not yet be blossomed out (turned yellow or opened up) and the leaves still had to be all 'clean green' with no brown blotches on them and no more than 3 inches long. Any longer and the leaves would be bitter. Doug also remembers watercress and pokeweed. (Pokeweed is poisonous unless it is cooked correctly.) Noel recalls "Sometimes Granny included some of the 'Danny' roots in our bags (to make a medicinal tea and sometimes add to her potions."

Hunting Skills
Noel remembers Granny’s cooked up game with greens. Noel recalls Granny was a remarkable shot. "When she was telling us kids her Indian Stories Granny often bragged about how good a shot she and her kin were. Example: What Granny called: ‘barking squirrels’ by shooting between a branch and a squirrels resting head on the branch and how ‘that squirrel would drop dead to the ground with no wound to the head and just a drop of blood on it’s nose’."

Noel also recalled "One day when Granny was relating another of her many ‘Indian stories’ and what experts shots they all were: - - - - - us kids dared Granny to shoot a 22BB shot (half the size of a 22 short) from inside the kitchen through the slot of a slightly raised window (to lessen the noise) at a pigeon strutting outside in our Wheeling, W.Va. back yard. Granny made us first promise we’d eat the pigeon and not waste ‘it’s life.’

"Then Granny took the 22 - whilst me an my cousins were laughing and poking each other in the ribs at how funny Granny looked holding the 22 between her two outstretched hands - without the stock against her shoulder or body and she just seemed to point the gun for a couple seconds and blammmmmmm the gun went off and that pigeon keeled over stone dead; when we went out and looked she had shot that bird from about 7 yards and the 22BB had passed through one eye and out the other eye on the other side!!!!. Granny fried that Pigeon it with a skillet full of dandelions and bacon bits and ‘greens.’"

Noel once asked Granny if she’d ever heard that ditty ’20 blackbirds in a pie’ and she immediately said ‘Noel if you’ll get me a sack of blackbirds, I’ll bake you a nice pie outta them.’
"I had a .410 shotgun (.22 cal on top combo) and I went out to a place where lotsa blackbirds flew in huge flocks. It didn’t take long for me to bring back to Granny a sack full of them and Granny immediately - in less than 20 minutes!!!! - skinned and gutted the lot (25 to 35) of them. She cut the heads and feet off but told me the heads were also good in a pie. She then stewed all those blackbird carcasses in her biggest black cast iron skillet and when they were ready she dumped the lot into another cast iron skillet with pie dough spread on the bottom and sides. Granny then put another big piece of pie dough top on top and poked holes in the pie dough with a fork. In about 90 mins total time from when I brought the sack to Granny, She and I and some friends were eating that blackbird pie until there wasn’t a scrap left to throw away.

"In Italy many years later I had something similar made with what appeared to be small sparrows (and the heads WERE included in that pie) but it didn’t even come close to being as good as Granny’s blackbirds pie."
Doug and Noel well recall their grandmother vs the sewer rat. A rat got into the house in Wheeling, in the kitchen. Granny shut the doors tight to keep the rat in and got Noel and Doug and his brother Don out into the back yard. Granny went in. There was an awful scuffle. When Granny opened the door, there was the rat with its head cut off. First she had smacked it senseless with one of those small flat shovels she used to shovel ashes out of her pot belly stove. After Granny hit it with the shovel she hacked off the head with her largest butcher knife and carried the gory remains out to the trash can. The rat had not left this life easily. Doug remembers Granny told them the rat had fought back and nearly bitten her neck.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Clell Smarr: Happy Days on Clover Fork

by David Parmer

The Clover Fork Road was a dusty country road in the summer of 1942 when Clell Smarr came to live with Presley and Jessie (Riffle) Bragg. In the winter all the dust of the road dissolved into mud and the busy summer traffic slowed considerably. Bleak was a good description of the wintry road and also the future of ten year old Clell Smarr. The Depression had taken the starch out of the country and out of many of its citizens. Prospects were dim for most people. Misfortune visited Clell very early in life. Clell’s father, William Clarence Smarr, had been killed in a traffic accident in Marshall County on Christmas Eve in 1931. At the time of his father’s death, Clell’s mother, Dorothy, had four young children and was pregnant with Clell. Dorothy attempted to feed her family by working as a housekeeper, but cleaning house and trying to nurture five young children was not an easy task. As an infant, Clell was fed with milk mixed with strained oatmeal which his mother obtained from Depression era breadlines. The struggle to survive was too much for Clell’s harried mother. Penniless and without means of support, Dorothy and her five children found their way to Abram’s Run and the farm of her sister and her husband, Lucy and Dencil Craig. Lucy and Dencil could do little for them. Until Clell was ten years of age, his home was a converted chicken house on the Craig farm. In 1935, Clell’s mother Dorothy married Orville Sapp who lived two farms away from the Craig farm. Although he married their mother, Mr. Sapp did not want the responsibility of her sons so they remained in the converted chicken coop. Dorothy’s daughter Nina found a home with the Holbert family on upper Clover Fork and Mr. Sapp allowed Anna Belle to live on the Sapp farm since she was old enough to contribute household chores.

Right above: Clell Smarr
Left above: Presley and Jessie (Riffle) Bragg's wedding photo
Right below: Pres Bragg and Champion

In 1942, Presley Bragg was the rural mail carrier on upper Clover Fork and became aware of the Smarr children who were living in the chicken hut. Childless after eight years of marriage, Pres and his wife, Jessie, sought and was granted permission by Dorothy Sapp to become the foster parents of her son Clell. Thus Clell came to know the dusty road of Clover Fork and the home of Presley and Jessie Bragg. Clell’s brother Lubert found a home with Vaden Traylor on Clover Fork and his brother Clifford found room and board with Ralph and Audrey Hall of Abrams Run.

A New Home
Clell Smarr well remembers coming to live at the Bragg home on Clover Fork, about two and a half miles above Orlando. Not only was it a new home for Clell but it was in fact new, having just been built for Pres and Jessie Bragg by Charlie Pritt. Pres had ordered the plans from Sears and Roebuck. Coming from an erstwhile chicken coop to a brand new home was like heaven to Clell and the ten year old was starstruck by the comparative opulence.
Left: The home at Orlando where the Braggs moved in 1945.
Right: The home on Clover Fork where Clell came to live in 1942. It was built by Charlie Pritt. from a plan from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog.

Clell remembers the physical warmth of the Bragg home, which, unlike his former home, was airtight against the winter chill. He also found that his foster parents were kind and generous and were glad that he had become a part of their life. Clell recalls that Jessie was particularly proud of the fact that Clell’s red hair matched her own. The first of many trips on which Clell accompanied Jessie was to the barber shop in Weston where Clell received his first “store bought” haircut, ironically by a red-headed barber who presented Clell with a pencil at the end of the ordeal.
Right: Clell with Margaret "Dimples" who was born to Jessie and Pres in 1942.
Left below: Clell with his sister Nina.
Continuing Ties and the Days of Song
His new foster parents were considerate in allowing Clell to remain in touch with his natural family. Clell frequently visited his mother on Abrams Run on weekends and on weekdays and his siblings visited with Clell at the Bragg home. On occasion, Pres and Jessie included Clell’s siblings in social and educational activities. In August 1942, the Braggs took Clell and his older sister Nina to an Upshur County Sing in Buckhannon where Clell and Nina participated in the sing sponsored by Fairmont radio station WMMN. Nina had earlier graduated from Walkersville High School and in September enrolled at Glenville State Teachers College. Appropriately, Clell remembers that the proceeds from the sing were to go to a charity to help orphans. A couple of months later, the Braggs, Blanche (Bleigh) Burkhammer, the Locust Grove teacher, and Clell attended a radio gang at Burnsville.

A New School

Clell attended his first year in school on Abrams Run. For his next three years of school, Clell walked from the Craig farm on Abrams Run to the Upper Clover Fork School. His teacher during his time at the Upper Clover Fork School was Lucille Traylor, the daughter of Vaden and Burla Traylor who also lived on Clover Fork. Miss Traylor was a thoughtful and caring teacher. During his days at the Upper Clover Fork School, Clell remembers eating his lunch with classmates in a teepee made of railroad ties. Fortunately, the teepee was well constructed and never collapsed on them. Now, living a few miles lower on Clover Fork with the Bragg family, Clell attended the Locust Grove School at the mouth of Meadow Run beginning the 1942-1943 school year. His teacher during his first year at Locust Grove was Blanche (Bleigh) Burkhammer, an excellent and long time teacher at the school. Clell’s teacher during his second year was Thomas Byrne who seemed perpetually in need of sleep. Virginia McCoy Skinner was Clell’s teacher his final two years at Locust Grove.

Left: Clell's brothers Lubert and Clifford
Right: Bee Heater, who took Clell to the Horseshoe competition

During his final year at Locust Grove, Clell remembers being taken to Weston by Bee Heater to take the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Test. (The Golden Horseshoe is a symbol of scholastic achievement for 8th graders who excell in the study of West Virginia.) Although he was unsuccessful in winning the prized award, Clell was appreciative of the opportunity. Some of his classmates at Locust Grove whom Clell remembers were Bill Skinner and Hayward Skinner, Louise and Virginia Heater and Rosemary Riffle. Clell remembers being enamored with Rosemary.

After finishing the eighth grade at Locust Grove, Clell entered high school at Burnsville in 1946. Although Clell was no bigger than a mite during his freshman year, he played football at Burnsville. He recalls that his early football initiation was having the air knocked out of him when he was tackled. Clell survived the season and attended the season ending football banquet at Burnsville High School along with his Orlando neighbors Bill Stutler and Charley Knight.
The Blake Ladies
Clell also remembers the Blake ladies who lived in the first hollow on Clover Fork who chewed tobacco, smoked old clay pipes and raised hundreds of turkeys. Rosie Blake and her granddaughter Christine would occasionally offer Clell a chew of tobacco which they raised on their secluded farm. So incessant was their smoking, the ladies carried tobacco pouches on the end of their staffs which they used to tend the turkeys. As Clell remembers, the ladies spent the entire day outside with the roaming turkeys so that they would not fall prey to predators, both four-legged and two-legged. Christine was also a student at Locust Grove School, was powerfully built and was considerably larger than Clell. After school, they would walk down the Clover Fork Road together and given the substantial differences in their size, Christine would frequently offer to carry Clell’s books.

Memorable Moments
A Frightful Scene
Clell had not lived with the Braggs on Clover Fork very long when he witnessed a terrible accident. During World War II, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was quite busy hauling war material and many trains went up and down Clover Fork. The Bragg home was located close to the railroad. Phebe (Posey) Riffle had recently married George "Short" Riffle who had been drafted and was stationed for training in the State of Georgia. Phebe anxiously looked forward to the letters from her Army husband which she would pick up at the Orlando post office. In late October 1942, she received a letter from her husband and was deeply engrossed in reading it as she was walking the railroad tracks to her home above the Bragg place. On this day, Clell was standing on the front porch of home of Charlie Pritt who lived above the Bragg home and was watching Phebe as she walked in the direction of Pritt’s house. Not hearing the approaching freight train coming from behind, Phebe was struck, cartwheeled by the large wheel of the train and suffered grievous injuries. Her right arm was torn from the shoulder and she was thrown unconscious to the ground with a concussion and other serious injuries. Phebe was taken to the Weston City Hospital and was initially given little hope to live, however miraculously, she survived.

Hey Clell, the War is Over
World War II seemed to last a lifetime. Men were away in the military and many lives were changed. Even as a bare teenager, Clell was keenly aware of the war in Europe and the Pacific. In August 1945, while on the hill above the Bragg home bringing the cows in for milking, he heard Jessie’s booming voice coming from the valley below. “Hey Clell, the war is over,” were the memorable words he clearly heard, announcing the end of hostilities in the Pacific.

Lassoing Fish
Clell remembers Jessie Bragg as an excellent fish catcher. When Clell moved to the fisherman’s paradise of Clover Fork, Jessie showed him how to lasso fish by crawling out onto willow limbs hanging over the fish laden pools of water, looping a wire around the fish and flipping them out of the water. Clell remembers that the first time he tried this acrobatic trick, the willow limb broke and he ended up swimming with the fishes.

Riding a Cow Cross County
As every Orlando resident is aware, Clover Fork forms the boundary between Braxton and Lewis County. The Pres and Jessie Bragg farm was partly in Braxton County and partly in Lewis County. When Clell began living with Pres and Jessie Bragg he would ride their milk cow occasionally across Clover Fork. Clell recalls that he would sometimes brag to strangers or the unsuspecting that he “had ridden a cow all the way from one county to another.” This boastful exploit often drew a look of incredulity from the listener.

Seventeen Horse Fill
Clell still remembers stories of his new environment. When he was a youngster living with the Braggs on Clover Fork, he learned of a site along the railroad right of way on Clover Fork near the home of Vaden Traylor which had a storied past. At this site, seventeen horses died from exhaustion during the building of the railroad in 1905 and were dragged into the fill and buried. Thereafter, the spot was known by railroaders and people in the neighborhood as “Seventeen Horse Fill.”

Champion and Two Cent Stamps
Pres Bragg
was the mail carrier for Orlando, Route 2. This route traveled up Clover Fork and then over the hill onto the waters of Knawls Creek, down the Little Kanawha River, up Riffle’s Run, over the hill onto and down Road Run, and back to Orlando. Clell would sometimes accompany Pres on his mail route riding on the back of “Champion,” the trusty horse which Pres used during bad weather when a motorized vehicle was impractical to use. Clell remembers on many occasions having to ford Clover Fork in high waters on the back of the trusty steed. He also remembers that the postage stamp for a letter at that time was sold for two cents, an outstanding bargain considering the difficulty in delivering the mail.

Red Drawers
Clell also learned some interesting peccadilloes of his neighbors. He recalls Charlie Pritt telling him that when a lady who lived in the neighborhood wanted Charlie to pay her a visit she would hang red drawers out on a clothes line with the washing. It goes without saying that Clell never passed the house thereafter without scrutinizing the clothes hanging on her clothes line.

Prepare for a Famine
Another interesting memory about his neighbors involved Maje and Sylvia Knight who lived in the large two story farm house above the Bragg home on Clover Fork. Mrs. Knight was a very religious person and was very observant of scriptural teachings and prophesies. In her study of the Bible, Mrs. Knight discerned that the holy book contained a warning of a coming famine and that the whole world would starve. To prepare for the coming famine, Mrs. Knight began a whirlwind campaign of stockpiling food. Clell was visiting the Knight farm one day and Mrs. Knight began fervently explaining the coming famine to Clell. Mrs. Knight asked Clell to come into the Knight home and see how she had prepared for the holocaust. Clell was amazed to find that every room in the house, with the exception of the Knight’s bedroom, was full of food. There were pickled eggs, crocks of sauerkraut, canned tomatoes, canned green beans, canned meat, and canned food of every description filling each room of the house. In addition the cellar house was overflowing. Clell recalls that as small as he was, he still had to walk sideways to go from one room to another. Clell was shell shocked at the amount of food which Mrs. Knight had preserved to tide her over the supposed famine. Fortunately, Mrs. Knight died in 1971 without the need of the horde of food.

Clell Returns Home
After completing his freshman year of high school at Burnsville, Clell’s mother persuaded her husband, Mr. Sapp, that her son was now big enough to help on the Sapp farm on Abrams Run, and that he could dig potatoes, hoe corn, and put up hay. After some consideration, Mr. Sapp recognized that Clell would more than pay for his keep, and agreed that Clell would be welcome to live on Mr. Sapp’s farm in exchange for farm labor. Then 16 years of age, Clell reluctantly left the only true home he had ever known and moved his belongings to the Sapp farm on Abrams Run.

Right: Mary Sapp, Dorothy Sapp, Clell Smarr
Right below: Dorothy, Annabell, Clell, Clifford, Lubert (face hidden) and Nina.

High School and the Military
Clell fulfilled his farm labor obligation to Mr. Sapp as agreed and also completed his high school education at nearby Walkersville High School in 1950. After graduating from high school, Clell joined the United States Air Force and made it his career, retiring after 20 years service. His final years were served at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. as a Congressional escort, a job which required Clell to conduct tours of world-wide bases for members of the government and Congress. Clell retired as a Tech Sergeant (E-6).

After his career in the military, Clell returned to West Virginia and went into the real estate business in Barbour County. Clell was living in Belington during the great flood of 1985 and suffered great property losses as did thousands of people in the Tygart River Valley. Clell now lives in retirement in Flagler County, Florida and does community service work with troubled juveniles who have been assigned to create and maintain vegetable gardens as part of their probation.

Happy Days on Clover Fork
Clell recalls his days on Clover Fork as the happiest days of his life, for the lessons of life he learned, and the opportunities he was given that helped him become successful. To Jessie and Presley Bragg, he is eternally grateful.

. . . . .
Right: Maje and Sylvia Knight lived in the house that once belonged to John and Agnes (Kilker) Carney and later by Charles Emery "Possum" and Florence (Cayton) Skinner. Today (right) it looks like this.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Peter Shields Revisited

by Donna Gloff

Delores D’Errico has done extensive research on Peter Shields (1756-1832), the several-great grandfather in many Orlando families, who served both the English and the Colonists in the Revolutionary War. She is searching for documentation to support our long-held beliefs about his life. Below are some of her findings and suspicions about his story. I (the author of this article) agree with her well researched and presented information and suspicions. Dolores welcomes comments and information from anyone who can add something to this discussion.
We think:
1 Peter Shields was born in Lanchester, England and came to the colonies as a soldier in a Red Coat, serving King George.
We know a Peter Shields was christened in Lanchester’s All Saints Anglican Church in 1756. This baby is commonly accepted as our Peter Shields, but we have nothing that shows why this Peter Shields is our fellow.

Right, above: Lanchester, Durham, England, near the border between England and Scotland
Left: If this Peter is our Peter Shields, he was christened in the church, All Saints in Lanchester. This is how it would have looked then. The tower was built in the middle ages. Today there is a clock set in the tower wall.  
Right: People of 1760s England dressed rather like the folks in the sketch to the right.

.FYI: What was Peter Shields’ life like in England? He most likely did not come from a family of substance because if he had, his family would have bought him a rank in the army and there is no indication that Peter Shields was an officer in either the English Army or the Virginia Militia.
b. Legend says that he came as a soldier with Burgoyne’s forces to put down the rebellion in the American Colonies. So far no documentation has been found that supports even his enlistment or conscription into the King’s Army. However, the circumstantial evidence causes us to believe this is most likely true. We need to research the British military records for Burgoyne’s troops in order to confirm this. Fortunately, there are many kinds of records and they are in good condition, so, when someone gets to the task it should not be unpleasant work. The records surrounding his military career should also confirm where and when he was born, who his parents were and what his father’s occupation was.
Right:The uniform of an English soldier at the time of the "Rebellion"

In 1984, apparently using information from the history books, Larry Shields constructed a likely scenario for Shields’ career as an English soldier.
2 Peter’s wife may have been Elizabeth Judy.
No record has been found of Elizabeth’s parents or of Peter’s and Elizabeth’s marriage, but Peter’s wife has generally been identified as Elizabeth Singleton. Dolores noticed that one reference, the Blackford County History, stated that his wife was of German heritage. She further noticed that "Singleton" is not a German name and the closest German family would have been the "Judys", according to tax records. (This is a German or Swiss name originally spelled "Tschudy" and pronounced "Judy".) Also, the person who bought Peter’s 70 acres in Hardy County was one "Jacob Judy".
The short reference that claims Peter Shields’ wife was of German heritage doesn’t carry too much weight, but it did catch Dee’s attention and what weight is does carry tilts the balance away from the Singletons to a German family, like the Judys.
Left: Virginia counties in Peter Shields’ day. Red is Peter Shields' Hardy and Pendleton County Properties, Blue is the Braxton County area where both the Shields and Singltons settled in the early 1800s. Green is Farquier County where the Singletons came from.

The case is made stronger because there is no reason why Peter Shields would have crossed paths with the Singletons in his early years. The Singletons settled in Farquier County, several counties and a mountain range away from Hampshire/Hardy County where Peter pioneered, farmed and where he and Elizabeth raised their family. Then why might earlier researchers have thought Elizabeth might be a Singleton? Since the Singletons settled near the Shields family in Braxton County, an early family historian may have jumped to a conclusion. However, Peter and Elizabeth married and raised their family in Harrison/Hardy County decades before their move next to the Singletons in Braxton County.
3 Peter served in the Virginia Militia twice.
a. English prisoners and deserters were not welcome in the Continental Army.
Dolores cites "Escape in America" by Richard Sampson, pg 68, which quotes a Congressional resolution in February 1778:
"Whereas experience hath proved that no confidence can be placed in prisoners of war or deserters from the enemy, who enlist into the Continental Army; but many losses and great mischiefs have frequently happened by them; therefore Resolved, that no prisoners of war or
deserters from the enemy be enlisted, drafted, or returned, to serve in the Continental Army."
Local militia, however, were not so restricted. Peter Shields could very well have served with his neighbors in the Virginia militia. There were several militia units present at Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown so he might well have been there, just as our historians have said.
Unfortunately, the militia records are too often faded and illegible. This has not stopped Dorlores from searching for evidence of Peter Shields' service. Delores finds clues to Peter Shields' military service in unexpected places. For example, Peter's son Peter Jr. named one of his sons Weedon. That is an unusual first name. However, General George Weedon commanded the militia regiments who were present at Cornwallis' surrender. Another example is Treasury Records documenting the transfer of land from Joseph Neville to several men. One of them is Peter Shields and the land transferred is Peter's 70 acres in Hardy County. The militia was not involved with the national program that gave men land in sections of Ohio and Kentucky in return for service in the national army. However, Neville, in raising his militia, could have made contracts with his men for land in return for service, and since Neville was a land speculator, it would have been to his advantage as well an an opportunity for his men to acquire that most precious commodity, their own farms.
Left: Illustration of Revolutionary War Militia in battle
b. At roughly age 50, Peter again served in the Virginia Militia. We have records which show he served in 1807 under Capt Jordan. (ref: Volunteer Soldiers, 1784-1811, transcribed by Virgil D. White 1987)

If we were to find the reason Peter Shields chose to enlist in the militia during a time of peace with the English, French and Indians, we would know a lot more about the life he lived.
4 Peter and Elizabeth settled in the North Branch of the Potomac Watershed, on West Mill Creek near the county line separating Hardy and Pendleton Counties. (Note the red dot on the above map of old Virginia.) They had 70 acres to farm in Hardy County and a 35 acre piece of land nearby in Pendleton County that may have had a saltpeter mine.
a. Hardy County
Tax records show that in 1784 Peter (in his late 20s), Elizabeth and their first two children were living in Hampshire County. (Hardy County was formed in 1786 from Hampshire County.)
About 1790, 70 acres of unimproved land in Hardy County on the west side of North Mill Creek between John Wise and John Liking was surveyed for Peter Shields. This land had originally belonged to Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Neville.
Left: Survey of the 70 acres land
Right: A random photo of West Mill Creek

In 1811 Peter (in his 50s) and Elizabeth sold the 70 acres to Jacob Judy for 75 pounds.
FYI: How big is 70 acres?
(70 acres equals .109 square mile or the equivalent of a square about 1/3 mile on each side.) They raised their eight children there. The land acquisitions and the children’s births are well documented. The possibility that he had a saltpeter mine is very likely.

b. Pendleton County
In 1805 Peter Shields purchased 35 acres of saltpeter caves in Pendleton County, a few miles south of his 70 acres in Hardy County. He sold the land to ??Hinkle in 18??.

Right: A "brush" of Saltpeter on a stone cellar wall.

FYI: What is saltpeter?
Saltpeter is potassium nitrite, KNO3: potassium, nitrogen and oxygen. Saltpeter is common in the caves along the Allegheny Mountains where it seems to grow on the rocks. It is the result of a chemical reaction It is scraped off the rocks and then purified into saltpeter. Its main use at that time was for gunpowder, which is abo
ut 75% saltpeter, 15% sulfur and 10% charcoal.
5 Peter and Elizabeth Shields moved with their family to Salt Lick, Braxton County, in the early 1800s. Their life on Salt Lick will be covered soon, in another entry.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

What Did Smithy Do?

by Donna Gloff

David Smith "Smithy" Wine (or Wines) is a legend in the upper reaches of the Little Kanawha Watershed and he is the several-great grandfather of many who live or lived in the Oil Creek Watershed. David Smith Wine (1822-1909) and Elizabeth "Betsy" (Conrad) Wine (1830-1917) lived on Tripplets Run, just over the hill south of Oil Creek. Both David Smith and Elizabeth were from a long line of pioneers dating into the early 1700s and even the 1600s.
Very little about David Smith Wine has been "proven", but the stories abound. Here are several of the stories we have today.

Preacher's Kid and Fiddler
Preacher's Kid
One tells that "George Wine had a son named David Smith Wine. George was a preacher. He allowed both Indians and blacks to worship with him." Research by Nettie Gregory suggests there was a Dunkard church on Curry Ridge near Falls Mill and nearby were a cemetery for blacks and a cemetery for Indians. Joe Hacker, referring to page 99 of West Virginia The State and Its People by Otis K. Rice, explained ". . . The Dunkards were a German sect. . . Like the Quakers, the Dunkards refused to take oaths or bear arms. They believed that they must pay the Indians for lands which they took. . . "

Right: The kind of violin Smith would have had, this one was made by Clover Fork craftsman Charley Blake in the early 1900s.

And of course, any description of Smith should mention his fiddling. In the late 1900s Smith's great grandson Melvin Wine (probably the most celebrated fiddler from central West Virgina) said that Smith was known for his fiddling and his favorite tune was Soldier's Joy. Melvin also told the following story.

"(One time Smith) was over to Sutton to pay his taxes and he was walking back. There was paths all through the woods where you could take near cuts you know--get there quicker. He laid down to get him a drink of water and when he raised up he was stone blind. He said he had to crawl to try to get to where he could get some help. He never could see after then, but he never would play the fiddle after then either, just one or two tunes to my dad was all he'd play."

What Did Smith Do in the Civil War?
There are three stories of what David Smith Wine did during the Civil War.
~ In one he joined the First Partisan Rangers with his brother John but was captured or deserted after a couple months.
~ In a second, he was a nonpartisan, easy-going fiddler who was caught in the maelstrom of the times.
~ In a third he was a bushwhacker: one of the old sharpshooters who would wait in the bushes overlooking the road where troops marched and couriers rode and then pick off a couple soldiers before fleeing into the dense woods.

What to believe? Who knows? Maybe a little of all three. Here they are for your consideration.
Records Show
D. S. Wines, John Wines
and Wesley Williams, along with many others, enlisted in Braxton County in the First Regiment, Virginia Partisan Rangers, (later Capt. John Imboden’s 62nd Virginia Infantry) on 20 Aug 1862. Smith, John and Wesley were listed as deserters on 4 Oct 1862, at Capon Bridge.

Were these our David Smith Wine, his brother John and his neighbor/future in-law S. Wesley Williams? Very likely. Confederate soldiers were taken prisoner that day and sent to Camp Chase in Columbus, OH, so maybe they had been captured and escaped in transport.
An Easy Going Fiddler
"During the War Between the States, Smithy was known for helping anyone who came to the house. All soldiers were welcome no matter what side they were on. When the Confederate Army found out what was going on, they arrested Smithy and marched him down to Richmond to sign the Oath of Allegiance to the south. On his way back to his house the Confederates found out he could play the fiddle. He then was called upon to play the fiddle for the Confederate troops. When the Yankee Army found out what was going on they sent a patrol from Bulltown, WV to his house. They order to shoot Smithy for helping out the south. When his children found out what was going on they piled on top of Smithy. Back then they were not allowing shooting someone if they had to shoot someone else first. When the soldiers saw what was going on they ordered for Smithy house to be burnt down. While Smithy was rebuilding the house they went to live in a cave. After they moved into the new house, the cave they were living in collapsed."
Right: Slim Qunitin: Marilyn (Cole) Posey and Charlie Cole

A Bushwhacker, Set to Music
Cousins Marilyn (Cole) Posey and Charlie Cole are Orlando based musicians (Slim Quinton duo) and folk historians. On a trip to the Blake Cemetery on Clover Fork they met a man who knew a man who. . . had on a transcription of a cassette tape made nearly twenty years ago. The sheet of paper said:

“This is Job, “Get the Wood” Conley, from the other side of the mountain. I was in the yard one day, when this little tune came flying around and I thought the little tune outta have some words put to it to make a little song~ So I went out behind the barn, got a turkey feather, some poke berry juice and a corn husk or two, stood nfly he fld and Wrote this song and called it 1862. Never did know where the tune came from, but it is a true song my grandmother told me many, many times. Goes a little something like this.”

. . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . “1862”
The battle lines were drawn all across our land
When Great-grandpa crossed the mountains over into Cumberland.
He joined the Yankee Amy back 1861.
They gave him a bright blue uniform and a long barreled rifle gun.

One day the captain said to him, I need twelve men to go
Way up it West Virginia where the Little Kanawha flows
Two hundred miles of wilderness you have to travel through
To stop the bloody killing, it was 1862.

My other Great-grandpa was at home when the Yankees called that day.
He was sitting in the back yard smoking his pipe away.
The Captain told the Sergent not to fool around
But kill bushwackin’ “Smithy” and burn his cabin down.

Grandpa had a loving wife and ‘Betsy” was her name
She was standing by Great-Grandpa when the Yankee soldiers came.
Nine children all began to cry and make so much ado
They couldn’t shoot Great-grandpa lest they shoot some children too.

Twice they sent a soldier d.w4r Great-grandpas’ reprieve
Captain finally told him to burn the house and leave.
They rode off down the mountain side in a column two by two0.
the twelfth day of October, it was 1862.

They moved in under a great big rock with no place to go
Piled it around with sticks and stones to keep out the wind and snow
They slept on leaves and branches the long cold winter through
That was how they made it back in 1862.

Amanda Jane was nine years old that fateful day
When the Yankees burned her cabin, tried to blow her dad away.
They had no bed to sleep in, not a pot to cook their stew.
They lived on squirrels and rabbits back in 1862.

Now many a year has passed since 5~great-grandpas’ Yankee son
Married the Rebel's daughter and they lived on Tripplet run.
Thus is a truthful story cause any grandma told me too
Of how they lived in under a rock in 1862.

Now many a fight has broken out since the war was won
And many an eye was blackened up there on Old Long Run
Everything has turned out fine that was supposed to do
When they picked up the pieces back in 1862.

. . . . .

David Smith and Elizabeth (Conrad) Wine had as many as fourteen children. Their daughter Amanda married Tom Conley, the son of a veteran of the Union Army. Amanda would have been about ten years old in 1862, when their home was burned.

Job who apparently wrote and sang 1862 was a grandson of Tom and Amanda (Wine) Conley. His cousins Dink and Roy "John" Conley would have, of course, also been Tom and Amanda's grandsons.

Right: Two of their children who would have been present at the burning of their home and the winter in the cave are pictured to the left. Rebecca (left) would have been about three years old and Margaret (right) would have been about five years old.

Left: Their greatgreat grandson Roger Conrad with his wife Sandy (Burgett) Conrad. who live on Three Lick today.

Center, below: Smithy and Betsey's grandson, son of John Nelson and Isabel (Bragg) Wine, David Smith Wine with his wife Mary (Claypool) and their children. This photo is from Hughie Ratliff who is a greatgrandson of Smithy Wine by way of Armintie (Wine) Ratliff and a greatgreatgrandson of Smithy Wine by way of Sarah (Wine) Riffle. Armintie 's husband was John Russell Ratliff and Sarah's husband was Charles Riffle.