SUBMITTED BY:  James R. Phillips, SCV Post 2093

Josiah Blackwell Sams
Born 1/27/1829, Died 8/13/1908
Father – James Brown Sams, Mother – Mary Hickman
11 children – 6 boys, 5 girls
Married – Rebecca Emaline Murray
Sams Gap (where NC and Tenn. Meet on 1-26) named after Josiah Sams
Born and lived as a young boy in Forks of Ivy area
While a young boy – family decides to move to California via covered wagon.

In the Flag Pond, Tenn. area an axle broke on the wagon and family decided to homestead in the Flag Pond area.
Josiah owned a saw mill in Flag Pond.
He had some slaves and built a school and church for the slaves.
He is rumored to have maintained a half-way house for Confederate spies.
Josiah is my Great-Great-Grandfather.

One evening someone rode to Josiah’s house and told him that Major George Kirk’s mounted infantry was riding up the holler.  Apparently it was Kirk’s raiders.  Josiah rode his horse to a half-way house, he is said to have maintained for Confederate spies.  Josiah told them what was coming and to scatter.  Josiah didn’t get away from the house and was inside when the Unionist arrived.  The Yankees questioned Josiah about the whereabouts of the rebs. but would provide no information.  The Unionists then hung Josiah on a plum tree but let him down just before he expired.  He still would not provide any info so they hung him again with the same results.  At this point Unionist Officers rode up, found out what was going on then ordered two men to kill him by hanging.  The lead officer left two soldiers to carry out the hanging while the rest of the soldiers rode off looking for the rebs that had been in the half-way house.  The Unionist soldiers proceeded to hang Josiah but a young girl that worked for Josiah’s family ran to the hanging Josiah and jumped up a grabbed the rope hanging Josiah.  With both of their weights holding the rope down, Josiah and the girl, the Unionist soldiers couldn’t pull them both up off the ground so they let the rope go and rode away after the other soldiers.

Sometime later the young girl confronted Josiah and told him that he owed her something for saving his life.  Josiah told her that he didn’t deal with women.  The next day the workers from Josiah’s saw mill showed up with lumber, where the girl lived, and proceeded to build her a house.

From that hanging point on, Josiah wore a beard that was under his chin and around his neck.  My sons and I always wondered why he wore his beard around his neck and not where else on his face.  It was a very strange looking beard.  We finally figured why he wore his beard like he did. It apparently was because he had hanging scars around his neck where the hanging rope burned and ripped the skin.  Josiah was only trying to hide the scars.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This