SUBMITTED BY: Christopher Robinson
Edited and Vetted by Cheri Molter
(Note from Christopher Robinson: There is much information contained in the journal of Francis Marion Wilcox (written in ca 1893) regarding the Civil War period in Ashe County, NC. The author, Francis Marion Wilcox (1843-1902), was my great-grandfather’s brother.)
Francis Marion Wilcox was born in Ashe County, North Carolina November 13, 1843, but grew up in Pike Co., Kentucky. His parents were Samuel and Barbara Houck Wilcox who were also born in North Carolina. His grandparents were Isaiah and Hannah Greer Wilcoxson and George W. Houck and Barbara Houck. Many born with the name Wilcoxson shortened it to Wilcox.
This source contains information that was written as it was remembered by Francis Marion Wilcox; it does include some historical/genealogical errors. Some corrections and notes have been added and are enclosed in brackets. The journal can be found in its entirety at https://www.jctcuzins.org/francis-marion-wilcox-journal. The following is an excerpt from Francis Marion Wilcox’s journal:
Isaiah Wilcox, Sr., our Grandfather, grew up and moved to North Carolina and won the heart of…Miss Fannie Greer, a daughter of William Greer [and] a resident of Ashe County, North Carolina. She was an estimable woman, tall, prepossessing and possessed of much more than an average stock of common good sense. Their marriage occurred during the year 1817. The mother of Fannie, or “Grandmother,” as I have always been informed was Hannah Cartwright, relative of the eccentric Peter Cartwright of pioneer notoriety. Grandmother, or Fannie Greer, was born in the year 1800 according to the best information to be obtained and died during the year 1866 on the North Fork of the New River, in Ashe County, North Carolina at the home of her son-in-law, Jesse Greer who married Aunt Jacintha Wilcox. Grandmother is interred in a family cemetery near Uncle Henry Miller’s at what is known as Stagg’s Creek, I believe a cemetery of North Fork near New River [Slicky Miller Cemetery, according to Ancestry.com]. Henry Miller married [Myley] Wilcox. Grandmother Wilcox was 66 years old when she died.
It was my lot to meet her during the War between the States in the year 1862. She at that date enjoyed good health and was well preserved, somewhat careworn and considerably gray, yet active and often joked with [me], was diligent in her domestic duties and very talkative. Grandmother teased cousin Alvin Wilcox and Morgan Trivett and myself about the girls as we were just beginning to think ourselves larger than our daddies, yet could we have seen ourselves as other had seen us, we would have had a good laugh at ourselves.
The marriage of Grandmother Fannie Greer and Grandfather Isaiah Wilcox went on smoothly, and there was born to them 12 children: Dicy [Dicia], William, Samuel, Jacintha, Arah, Myley, Sidney, Nancy, Matilda, Martha, Deborah and Annie. The dates of birth of these children we have not at our command. Consequently, I cannot give the ages of but a few, but will endeavor to give the history of each one, telling who they married, where and so forth as their names are listed above save Samuel, our father, whose date of birth, history, etc. will be mentioned further on towards our close.
Dicy Wilcox, the oldest daughter grew up and married Owen Trivett, a respectable young man and a resident of Ashe County, North Carolina. A farmer by trade, he settled on Old Field Creek, a tributary of New River, South Fork, in Ashe County, North Carolina. He cleared him up a farm upon which he resided like one settled bee, raised a large family—twelve children were born unto them, yet during the epidemic of diphtheria in 1862, they lost in less than six weeks five of their number. These are interred on the old home farm N.E. of the house occupied as a dwelling by said Owen Trivett at said date, 1862.
[According to census records, in 1850 Owen and Dicy had five children: Isaiah, Nathan, Jesse, William, and Charity. In the 1860 “Oldfields” census, they had eight children living at home: Morgan, John, Silas, Welborn, Solomon, Miley, Matilda, and Joseph. By 1870, the “Old Fields” census lists Dicy living on the same farm with her sons, Solomon and Morgan.]
Of these living Hon. Squire Trivett lives at Marion County, North Carolina. He is by profession a lawyer, also an ordained minister in the Missionary Baptist Church. Nathan C., second son, died in the hospital at Ashland, Kentucky in the spring of 1863 being a member of the 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry Volunteers [No military records found for Nathan Trivett; However, under the name “Nathaniel Tilbet,” there are records of someone who fought for the Union, serving in Company E of the 39th Infantry (Kentucky). He died on May 27, 1863 at Ashland, KY. (Source: Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, Harney, 1866)]. He left a wife, Hannah and two children to mourn his loss – Levi and John – his wife being Hannah Greer, a daughter of Isaac Greer. They reside in Pike County, Kentucky. William H. Trivett, third son of Owen, resides at Beefhide, P.O., Pike County, Kentucky. He is a farmer by occupation, was a Union soldier during the war and a member of the 54th Kentucky Volunteers [No military records found for William Trivett]. Jesse died in 1862 at Jacksborough, Tennessee. Dr. Morgan F. Trivett resides at Eskridge, Waba[u]nsee County, Kansas as of 1879 and perhaps is there yet. He is by profession a physician. [A Morgan Trivett enlisted in the Union army on September 13, 1864. He served in Company B of the 53rd Infantry (Kentucky) until he was mustered out on September 15, 1865.]
Charlotte came to Kentucky in 1865 and married Mr. James Wallace. They had one child, Dicy, who took sick and died and was buried in the family cemetery of Barbara Wilcox, 1st grave west of Samuel Wilcox, our father. [Charlotte] died about the year 1868. Her daughter, Dicy, died also about 1885 and is buried near her mother.
Isaiah Trivett immigrated to Indiana in 1868 and from there to Minnesota. We heard he was inclined to roam and where his last sun will set we know not.
I should have stated before that Aunt Dicy Trivett resided with her son, Solomon, in Ashe County, North Carolina until 1892 when she died and no doubt lies by the side of her children and husband, who died about the year 1866 in Ashe County, North Carolina.
Uncle William Wilcox resides in Ashe County, North Carolina on a tributary of Mill Creek and on Tableland of Elk Knob, divided between waters of Big Elk Creek and Old Field Creek, all tributaries of the south fork of the New River, a remarkable healthy location. Uncle William is a farmer by occupation and…an ordained minister in the Missionary Baptist Church [who] stands high in the estimation of all and possesses much good common sense. Yet in my judgement, inherited too much Greer blood and consequently lets the world go ‘wag’ and only goes as the spirit moves him. He would not answer a letter if he knew the history of ALL his ancestors would be lost to oblivion.
He raised a family of eight children noted for their peculiarities and a good mother. Among their names we find Martin, Alvin, Isaiah, William, Lizzie, Catherine, Samuel and so forth. All reside in North Carolina near the old home ranch. [According to the 1870 “Oldfields,” Ashe Co., NC census, William and Luvenia had 5 children still living at home: Catherine, Samuel, Matilda, Mary, and Martha. By the 1900 “Oldfields” census, William and “Vina” were ‘empty nesters’ who had been married for 61 years. The record states that Vina had had eleven children, ten of whom were still living.]
In 1862 I assisted Uncle William in cutting tops, pulling fodder and picking chestnuts, etc. He looked much like father, also grandfather Isaiah Wilcox, who I propose to speak of further on.
Uncle William preached real well, seemed imbued with the Spirit. His wife was Miss Viney Watton [Luvenia “Vina” Hatten]. I was not so favorable impressed with her as I might have been, yet perhaps she was a better person than I was and I just did not appreciate her as I should have. She was a good worker, a good talker that never tired, much devoted to Uncle William and was attached to her children – more so to Martin than the others as he was clubfooted. He became a school teacher, also farmed some. I cannot give detailed histories of each child. Aunt Vinney was rather heavy set, some 5ft. 2in. tall, fair complected, dark hair, rather good looking – had large blue eyes. Uncle William was a spare made man about 5ft. 10in. tall, black hair, fair complected, blue eyes, rather stooped shouldered like the ancestors of his race. He was slow of speech, yet very precise and entirely free from any slang.
Aunt Jacintha [“Cynthia”] Wilcox, oldest girl, grew up and married one Jesse Greer and settled on the north fork of the New River in Ashe County, North Carolina, where she and her children yet reside, Jess having died in the Rebel Army in 1862 near Jacksborough, Tennessee. He was a Rebel at heart and not possessed of any too much good sense, so as I know but little [of] him I will leave him by adding that in 1862 I visited him and Grandmother and he treated me “white” and I would be glad to meet his wife or children upon earth once more. [According to his military records, Jesse Greer was a farmer when he enlisted in the Confederate army on July 20, 1862. He served in Company L of the 58th P. Rangers Infantry (North Carolina). On September 15, 1863, Jesse was at a hospital in “LaFayette, Georgia,” then was detailed as a nurse. In May 1864, Jesse was detailed as a “litter bearer.” That was the last record in his file. (Source: North Carolina Troops 1861-65, A Roster, 1993)
Aunt Sidney married Jesse Houck about the year 1838, settled in Ashe County, North Carolina and remained there until the spring of 1850. Then with father’s family immigrated to Pike County, Kentucky and later on to Carter County, Kentucky. They raised several children, among whom were George, Isaiah, Sidney, Fannie, Samuel, Barbara and Floyd who later died in 1862. Aunt Sidney died about the year 1857 and is buried in Carter County, Kentucky at the Sturgill graveyard on Little Fork of the Little Sandy River. Jesse Houck lived until 1885 when he also died and was buried by the side of his wife and child. George, the oldest son resides in Leon County Texas. All the others reside in Carter and Lawrence Counties in Kentucky where they pursue an agricultural vocation.
Aunt Arah Wilcox grew up and married one Morgan Patrick about the year 1838, resided in North Carolina some three or four years, when he immigrated to Ohio where he resided for some four or five years, and in the year 18?? [sic] immigrated to the state of Iowa, settling in Mohaska County, seven miles southwest of Oskaloosa on the Desmone River and what is known as the Six-Mile Bottom where he continues to reside. To Arah and Morgan Patrick the following children were born: Mary, William, George, Willamina, Albert, Roderick and Hamilton. …Uncle Morgan Patrick came from Ohio to Iowa in a wagon drawn by two horses. They made an average of over 30 miles per day. There were no railroads and not even wagon roads in many places, the country was all new and Indians had not been removed but a short time hence.
Aunt Nancy Wilcox came to Kentucky with her father on or about the year 1845 when but a buxom girl, grew up and married a young man by the name of Solomon William [Mullins]—grandson of the old moneymaker and son of Alexander Mullins who resided in Pike County Kentucky. Solomon and Matilda had born to them several children, among whom we find Andrew Jackson (dead), William (dead), Jacob, Samuel, Sylvester (dead), Francis Marion and Frances. These children all reside in Pike County, Kentucky mostly on Shelby Creek. Uncle Solomon was a member of the 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry. He volunteered, took sick, and died at Louisa, Kentucky on or about the year 1864. His remains and those of Cousin Nathan Crankfield Trivett of the same regiment were interred near Ashland, Kentucky. [Solomon Mullins enlisted in the Union army on Nov. 14, 1862 at Peach Orchard, KY as a Private. He served in Company C of the 39th Infantry (Kentucky). His last record states, “(How left not indicated) from 39th Infantry (Kentucky) on Jan. 28, 1864 at Paintsville, KY.”] After the War they were disinterred and conveyed to the capitol of the State and repose in the National Lot or Cemetery together with many others who yielded up their lives in defense of the best Government on earth, which misguided, armed traitors were endeavoring to put down and ruin.
Aunt Matilda died in Pike County, Kentucky on or about the year 1881 or  and is buried at the family cemetery of Isaac Greer on Beefhide Creek where she awaits the resurrection to call her into life with some little ones who died in infancy – their names we cannot mention, only one, Tolbert. “Peace to her ashes, sleep on until Christ shall call thee up into everlasting life.”
Deborah Wilcox married one, James [Richardson] of Ashe County, North Carolina. She died about the year 1866 and is buried near Comet [at the Austin-Richardson Family Cemetery], Ashe County, North Carolina. She left one son, Francis Marion [Richardson (1851 – 1917)] and a daughter [Deborah Alice Richardson Duncan (1861 – 1939)]. Where they are, I do not know. In Ashe County, North Carolina I presume.
Miley [Mila] Wilcox married one Henry Miller. [They] reside on Stagg’s Creek of the north Fork of the New River, Ashe County, North Carolina where [they] raised a large family, the names of which we cannot give in full. There was Mary, William, John and so forth. They reside near Cornet post office, Ashe County, North Carolina, were doing well in 1862 when I visited them. ‘Twas here Alvin Wilcox ate too much maple sugar and lost his grip and appetite for sweetness in the year 1867. I will never forget his groans – in fancy I hear them now as his body rolls over and over and he says, “My, sugar don’t set so well in my stomach!” He could not stay inside and was loath to go out as the weather was yet cool, but he went, and I guess he doesn’t like maple sugar to this day. (He dreaded that trip to the outhouse in the snow you can bet.) [According to the 1870 Horse Creek, Ashe County, N.C. census, Henry and “Milly” had seven children living at home: John (20), William (18), George (17), James (15), Marion (12), Nancy (9), and Virginia (4). The 1880 Staggs Creek census states that Henry and Miley had the following family members living with them: their son, Francis M. (22); their daughter, Mary Weaver (32) and her children—Corrine, James, and John; and their youngest daughter, Fannie Miller (14).]
Aunt Martha Wilcox married one Solomon Miller, a resident of Horse Creek, Ashe County, North Carolina near Cornet post office. They raised quite a large family, among them was a pair of twin boys – one of which was called Francis Marion after the writer of this sketch. Uncle Sol was a poor, hardworking farmer and seemed kind and good natured, slow of speech and looked to me like he had just as soon the world would “wag” him as he the world. This was in 1862 and the War had no doubt thrown a pall over all those whose highest ambitions were to remain with their families and aid in caring for their own wives and children instead of fighting to protect the slave property at the South, which if sustained was only destined to bind their own fetters more close and make them slaves or the equals thereof. Aunt Martha was a large, portly woman, rawboned, dark complected, dark hair, black, very tall and showed in the continence the Wilcox side of her race, while her size presented the Greer side. Her education was limited, manner unassuming, clever, kind and obliging. She made many inquiries after her brother, Sam, and her father, Isaiah, and seemed devoted to her husband, little ones who bid fare to become the ancestors of a mighty Miller generation. None of them were old enough to go into the Confederate Army. Aunt Martha was alive in 1885 at Comet post office, Ashe County, North Carolina. [According to the 1870 Horse Creek, Ashe County, N.C. census, Solomon and Martha Miller were neighbors to Henry and Miley Miller, discussed above. They had 8 children living under their roof at that time: Leander (16), Monroe (14), Emmett (12), America (9), Franklin (8), Jerome (3), James (3), and Nancy (1).]
Little Annie, as she was called, died about the time the War ended and lies in the same cemetery with her mother [Fannie Greer Wilcox] near Henry Miller’s not far from Comet post office [in] Ashe County, North Carolina.
I have mentioned these children briefly, uncles and aunts, and some of their children in order that our own children might at some period in life, form their acquaintance and establish their relationship.
I have been silent so far as to our own Grandfather’s history in order that I might give him a place just before that of our own dear father’s history. Hence I will tell you now what little I know of him. His Christian name was Isaiah [Wilcox] and he was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina on February 20th 1796 and remained in said county with his father until grown.
A portion of Wilkes County was stricken off and the County of Ashe made when our people moved into the new country, settling on the south fork of New River, on the waters thereof. The County was new with game in abundance everywhere and much of Grandfather’s time was employed in the chase after elk, panther, bear, deer and wild turkey. Yet at intervals he worked on the farm and in his father’s shop. Being a natural genius, he soon learned to be a good workman in iron and steel, also a very good gunsmith. In a word, he was a good blacksmith and could make any piece of common machinery then in use. While in the woods he was equally good. Yet he devoted most of his time to making wagons which he ironed and sold as occasions demanded.
Grandfather, while hunting and roaming over the hills of this new country, became acquainted with one William Greer, whose wife was a relative of the eccentric Peter Cartwright, being herself the mother of several young ladies among whom was Jacintha, who afterward married one Hardin Parsons, and one named Fannie. Isaiah became “all broken up” on the latter. He courted, wooed and won [Fannie’s] hand and about the year 1817, they as before stated, were married and settled on New River in Ashe County, North Carolina.
On or about the year 1820, William Greer with his family, also Isaiah Wilcox, his son-in-law, concluded to migrate to the Three Forks of the Kentucky River in the State of Kentucky, what is now called Owsley County, Kentucky. They made the trip…on horseback and pack mules and after crossing many high hills and precipitous mountains, they finally arrived at the end of their journey and made another addition to the few then comprising the settlement at the Three Forks of Kentucky River (where now the town of Proctor is located). Here for a short time they devoted their attention principally to hunting and farming and blazing out new lines of travel and while here in this wilderness home, on the 7th of March 1821, Isaiah’s second son was born whom he named after his father, calling his son Samuel.
The small colony became homesick …and on or about the fall of 1821 or in the spring of 1822, they pulled up stakes, packed their horses and mules and after a long, yet successful journey they arrived in Ashe County North Carolina where all settled anew. Some of those who returned, to lament their choice, while others were only to remain, gather fresh courage and be off again.
William Greer remained on the waters of New River until removed by death during the spring of 1862, being near ninety-seven years old. He always longed for Kentucky and believed it to be the “promised land.” His wife Hannah also died there in the same year being up into ninety. He heard their funerals preached by Uncle William Wilcox in the summer of 1862.
Isaiah Wilcox after his return to Ashe County [after 1822], worked at his trades and devoted considerable time to hunting. He had now become older in years, the county was becoming more densely populated, schools were being formed and children given a limited education. Isaiah had never had a chance to educate himself, yet from moments gathered, he learned to read, write and cipher quite well. Though his books were few he came more diligent in pursuit of the Bible. With him to read was to know it and from its sacred pages, he was led to behold his fallen state, implored God’s mercy, received pardon and was called to preach the Gospel that he had been reading.
At first, he told me, he disobeyed the call. Yet, there was no rest of mind or peace of soul until he gave the inviting spirit his word that he would make an attempt. He obeyed, the spirit came, light shown in and darkness went out. God, thru this man, spoke to many crowds of people. Years rolled on and his fame went abroad. He was called to the highest seat in the Baptist church. The Lord seemed ever with him, but lo, in an unguarded moment, Isaiah listened to the tempter’s sweet voice. He forgot God and relied on himself and was no longer a pillar of strength. …He comes to Kentucky once more, this time stopping in Pike County, Kentucky, but here he would not remain. He longs for the chase and here he goes to the wilds of the Elk River in West Virginia where game abounds. Here he hunts, traps, makes guns and seems in almost isolation, unsatisfied.
Father [Samuel Wilcox] and Joseph Houck go in search of him about the year 1847 to find him on the head of the Elk River in rough country. They induce him to return to North Carolina and he did so only to see his deserted family.
He longed to be back. He takes Aunt Nancy Matilda and goes to Pike County, Kentucky. Here he remains only until Aunt married and then Isaiah arises and goes to Pound River, Virginia and there forms an attachment to Sarah Mullins who becomes his second wife. They remain here two or three years, then move to Wise County at the Pound post office in said county about five miles south of the top of the Cumberland mountains at a point called Pound Gap. Here he worked the blacksmith trade until 1853 or 4, moved to Pike County, Kentucky and settled on Shelby Creek where he remained until 1863 when he immigrated to Carter County, Kentucky, settling on the Little Sandy River. While in Pike County, Kentucky on or about the year 1856 or seven, he was again visited by the Spirit and promised the Lord once more that he would go about His work. He did so and the Spirit of the Lord attended him as he claimed enlightenment and understanding was given him and more light on His word than ever before. He lived in the county until February 10, 1879. He preached an able sermon on Sunday morning and returned home and that evening contracted pneumonia, grew worse and on Wednesday following was summoned away from earth, dying as one going to sleep. He was decently interred on Thursday evening on top of a hill near where he died on the left side of Little Sinking Creek and on the left side now of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad on Upper Hill Farm then belonging to William Salsbury.
The writer of this sketch was present and saw Isaiah Wilcox buried, he buying his last suit in which he was clothed for the last time. His wife and children have written their consent that his remains be exhumed in this year 1893 and be transferred to the family cemetery of our family on Deer Creek, Carter County, Kentucky and laid by the side of his son, Sam – the first man buried here in the year 1864.
Grandfather Isaiah Wilcox was a man about five feet ten inches tall, would weigh about one hundred and sixty five pounds at his fighting weight in middle age. He was fair complected and a good looking man, with straight black hair, blue eyes, shoulders a little stooped and as age came upon him he became more so. He was a man of rather slow speech, yet positive and firm when not roiled. Yet when his temper became aroused, his whole frame seemed set in motion and his tongue worked as though on a pivot.
He was a man possessed of a quick temper, yet he controlled it in a becoming manner and if enraged, like a troubled water he soon became smoothed down and was a pleasant as though nothing had disturbed his peace and quietude. …Hiram, his second son by his second wife Sarah Mullins, more fully represents his temperament in youth that I can from his own descriptions of himself to me.
He was fond of telling hunting stories-true, which were always patiently listened to by us boys and relished at all times. He possessed much good judgment and was able to give advice well calculated to benefit all.
He wore a 7 1/4 hat in size, a number 15 collar, 37 coat and vest, pants 33 by 33, shoes number 9 and often 10. One of his favorite sayings in the pulpit was, “Sometimes Old Zade gets into very deep water and ’tis with much difficulty he wades out!”
…He was in politics a Republican, deep and dyed in the wool. He believed in one Government, one flag and one Constitution and a government for all. He died a poor man, yet it is often said to the writer that at death he would be as rich a man as those possessed of their earthly millions.
The second wife of Isaiah Wilcox was as stated before a Miss Sarah Mullins born March 1826 and a daughter of one John Mullins called, I believe, Chunky Bill. He was a descendant of a tribe immigrating to Virginia in an early day and their name and number in and about the head of the Big Sandy River in Pike County, Kentucky and Wise County, West Virginia is like the sands of the sea. The mother of Sarah was a Miss Temperance Blaylock, a daughter of John Blaylock of Dee River, North Carolina who was a soldier in the Revolutionary War of 1776. He proved to be a gallant brave soldier possessed of much true courage and daring that never knew fear or shirk from performing a duty no matter how perilous.
To Isaiah and “Sallie” (Sarah) were born the following children: Dulcenia, Louisa, Andrew Jackson, Hiram, Carolina, Thomas Jefferson, Isaiah and Catherine as well as one or two pair of twins that died in infancy whose names I never knew. The above named offspring all reside in Carter County [Kentucky] near Willard. Carolina died some years ago. The boys are all good clean men and useful. They are esteemed by me as good boys and should I never see them again, I wish them well, also “Sallie” their aged mother who has often divided rations with me. She was a woman possessed of much courage, tall, rather dark complected, black hair, black eyes, stammered a little in speech and when roiled would say, “There’s nary a Devil if I don’t learn you on which side your bread is buttered!” and ’twas only a word or a blow with her. Her and grandfather lived agreeable. She was very kind and devoted to him all through his life. Her nature was to be kind yet she lacked nothing in temper but could control it admirably.
Samuel Wilcox, the second son of Isaiah and Fannie…was as before stated born at Three Forks of the Kentucky River in what now comprises Owsley County, Kentucky on March 7, 1821 and when only eleven months old [he] was taken back to North Carolina where they settled in what is now Ashe County on the waters of the New River about nine miles southwest from Jefferson, the county seat of the above named county. Here young Samuel grew to manhood, laboring on his father’s farm, also inheriting some of his father’s genius and having access to his tools, he learned the carpenters trade and he became a fair cabinet maker. The schools of his day were very imperfect and far from what they have become in a period of sixty years, hence his education was limited to the common branches gained by attending subscription schools or over a pine torch fire around his father’s hearthstone. His principal instruction was given by a gentleman by the name of Clayton who taught in those days. The instruction was perfection, as he was an able scholar and a graduate as well and author of several text books. He was called “Old Silver Head Clayton” from the fact that he had a fracture of the skull and in closing the fracture they used about a quarter of a silver dollar in silver, in platting over the crack in his cranium. …The training Clayton gave Father was good as far as it went and the study that he gave his books…enabled him to do business and teach in the Common Schools of Kentucky in after years. Samuel had a splendid mind and made himself almost, if not quite, a perfect reader. He could set down and “read” for hours without a book, repeat the life of Washington by heart, recite Washington’s farewell address which the writer has heard him do more than once.
But young Samuel was human and on or about the age of seventeen years, a large young man in his teens, began to think no doubt that he was about five times larger than he was in reality. …He about this time, met a Miss Barbara Houck, a daughter of George W. Houck a respectable gentleman of German descent. Young Barbara was about the right size and age to fully captivate Sam and she did it. As we are informed during the year of 1839, in the early spring they were joined in matrimony by a Reverend James Johnson and from that day on trotted along in double harness.
Strange things often happen in this world. Often have I heard my mother say that when she first saw father he was about six or eight years old and had accompanied his father, Isaiah, to her father’s home. She said young Sammy was attired in buckskin pants and looked as though they had been well lubricated with bear-oil lard or some other greasy substance. She said [s]he laughed at the young kid then little thinking that one day she would become the wife of that boy, yet she did.
After their marriage they settled in their native Ashe County near the old home ranch and remained for a short period and then moved some twenty-five miles northwest and settled on the waters of the North Fork of the New River near where the Miller settlement now resides on Staggs Creek. While there the writer then a small kid, wandered to a deep spring and tumbled in and when found was “dead” but was resurrected after a thorough rolling in the bed quilts for more than two hours, so Mother informed me. I don’t remember anything about it yet in 1862 I visited the old long ranch which was yet standing but much dilapidated. West of the house was the spring then only about 1/2 inch deep gushing out its nice blue waters, clear as crystal. There I quenched my thirst from the same stream my father and mother had so often quenched theirs…
Home was not there, for Father moved back to South Fork and settled for good and went to work, cleared up for a new home, erected dwellings and made himself quite a comfortable home where he worked his trade and framed for several years and became quite popular for his integrity and industry.
While residing on the South Fork, he was chosen, elected and commissioned Captain of Co. N? [sic] North Carolina State Guards as was the custom and requirements of law that state troops be organized and meet for Company and Regimental drill from once to twice each month of the year. Samuel, now Captain Wilcox, was said to be the best commanding officer in the regiment. He commanded his Company for a number of years, but like many men residing in an old settled country, he desired to make a change. His father and one sister were now north of the Cumberland mountains, permanently settled hence we found Sam, in the early days of 1850, grooming old brown “Moike”, a high headed charger that could rack a mile in 3 minutes for means of conveyance to the “promised land” on a voyage of discovery. “Moik” was groomed, a new saddle cinched and over this was thrown a large saddle, pockets filled with clean clothing for change after arrival in Kentucky. Over saddle and saddle pockets was thrown a large black bear skin to afford the passenger ease and keep the contents of the saddle dry. Now with broadcloth leggings and heavy overcoat, Capt. Sam mounts old “Moike”, bids Barbara and the four little ones goodbye and off he goes to Kentucky. Around the fifth day after starting he finds his sister and father, well likes the country, yet does not buy or rent land but returns back home and consults Mamma.
She gives her ascent to go provided that Uncle Jesse Houck, Father’s brother-in- law, would come along too. Jesse hears Father’s report and says he would go. They now begin to sell off, preparatory to a final move from the old Tarheel State to cross the Cumberland Mountains. At that day and age, the world was thought to be a long way off. After arranging matters for the final move, father was sent back to Kentucky, this time in April to rent and have ready homes for the two families. The second trip was made like the first and on old “Moike” and successfully, too.
Father rented two farms, one of a Robert Fleming on Shelby Creek, Pike County, Kentucky for himself and the other of a Broker Mullins I believe on Beefhide Fork, Pike County, Kentucky for Uncle Jesse Houck. On or about April 20, 1850 with Uncle Henry Houck, Uncle Jacob Houck and Uncle Jesse Houck, Mother embarked with our household goods for Kentucky; the two former hauling our plunder in two wagons and drawn by four horses, the other three with Uncle Jess arriving with his own team. We went slowly yet successfully onward, the winter playing pedestrian most all of the time. Father after renting lands, started to meet the Exodus and while in the streets of Abingdon, Virginia, Uncle Jess being in the lead looked nearly one mile north ahead, saw old “Moike” playing the rack splendidly and knew it was father on return, raised his hand and then and there in the streets of the City of Abingdon gave one of the loudest yells that I have ever heard come from the lips of a small man. Father heard it, raised his stovepipe fur hat and in a minute ole “Moike” had placed the intervening space to his rear and we now shook Papa’s hand. He was well and so were the crew.
We drove on north of town and stopped for dinner and Uncle Jess and Father returned to town and bought myself, George W. and Isaiah each a black pitched “Deek” cap. Oh my, but we were pleased as these were new to us. We wore them all summer and became tanned as Southern Mulattoes before fall. After dinner with Father and “Moike”, Marion could get on with more ease, riding behind Father at intervals. We landed at Pound, Wise County, Virginia and in a course of time found Grandfather and Sallie ready to welcome us. We tarried for a few days then crossed the Cumberland at Pound Gap, then into Kentucky and rolled on down through Pike County and arrived at our destination on or about May 1, 1850. Here we entered our new home in a strange land among strange people among the rugged hills and precipitous mountains, settling on Shelby Creek near the mouth of Beefhide Fork, Pike County, Kentucky on what was then known as Bob Flemmings’ place. …Well, we remained there two years and then moved to what is known as the Old Johnny Edwards place on High-House place. This house was made of hewn logs and was a full two stories high with an additional log structure used for a kitchen. There at this place, on or about February the 10th, 1852 our brother William was born and my blue game rooster met an untimely death that caused my tears to flow freely, yet brought me an appeaser in a silver quarter dollar presented to me by my Grandfather, Isaiah Wilcox. On account of this untimely taking of my game rooster and although paid for him, I could not relish our Bill or esteem him as a young baby brother for quite a while. Yet as time rolled on, we found our Bill to be a good boy and was glad that he had come to stay with us.
…Father soon bought land and settled in the County and remained here quite a while. He made farming his principal vocation and while a resident of the County taught in several of the Common schools, always rendering the best satisfaction. In all the districts in which he taught, he worked at his trade in winter, often going into Virginia and into Wise County and the Holly Creek neighborhood where he got better wages and at the same time erected and finished off several houses.
Father bought land in Carter County, Kentucky during the fall of 1860 on the waters of the Little Sandy River on a stream known as Deer Creek. To this he moved during the spring of 1862 coming down the Big Sandy River in a “Joe” boat hitched onto a raft of saw logs. In this “Joe” boat was all the household goods, father, mother and the children, all except me, Marion, who had gone on a visit to North Carolina and under Jeff Davis’ edict could not return at will; hence he did not get favored with the river ride. This Joe Boat was soon landed at Catlettsburg, Boyd County, Kentucky where the family and plunder was placed in wagons and soon hauled out to Deer Creek farm in Carter County where they proceeded to clear up the ground, plant and cultivate a crop. This they did successfully, yet were often looked after by Rebel hordes, parading the country, stealing women’s clothing, men’s clothes, horses and even cattle. Things went on and got no better as the Union soldiers gained larger victories until the demoralized stragglers formed bands and rounded into their native state, Kentucky, only to pillage and steal. Under the name of Rebel they accomplished their hellish works when truly they were roaming and plundering and murdering innocent men for no reason other than that they had been true Union men and whether they endorsed the Rebel government openly, we know not. But we do know that they went unchastised or punished and as such killed, murdered, stole and burned until no Union man dared remain at home and hence on October 1, 1862 we find Father and Marion enlisted their names as volunteers on Co. D, Kentucky Mt’d Infantry, Volunteers to aid in the fighting of their country’s battles in defense of their country and homes against their fellow countrymen who should have been out fighting for their country and their state instead of waging war against it. … Father, about February 1st, 1864 took pneumonia fever while in camp. I had him took to a Mrs. Sarah E. Howells where we had been having our rations cooked then went for Dr. Hopson of Paris, Kentucky. He treated him for about three weeks. Father was on the mend but being removed then to the hospital, the doctors changed. He took a relapse and after a severe illness on the night of March 15, 1864 at about fifteen to ten o’clock, he breathed his last. arriving at the end of life’s journey at age of forty-three years, no months and eight days. On the 16th he (in charge of Comrade James M. Clay) was started home for burial where he arrived on or about the 22 of March being interred on a mound northeast of the old home on Deer Creek, Carter County, Kentucky at a site named by himself to me on his deathbed.
…How many brave men who went forth to battle and in defense of Liberty and their countries cause never returned home and if they did return ’twas often after their soul had gone out of their bodies like father’s. These men returned to comfort a dear wife and child, a sorrowing father and mother or an idolized sweetheart, leaving those whose brave hearts heaved with emotion as they beheld only a body with life stripped of its charms. These brave soldiers had done all they could. They gave their lives as a sacrifice upon their countries’ altar that our fine institutions, the dear purchase of our fathers, might live and be transmitted to posterity. Many of the Union soldiers sent home dead were denied the privilege of having a hearse or team of horses to haul them to their last resting place as the guerilla bands claiming to be Rebels were roaming at large seeking to accomplish their hellish designs. Those bands would unharness the horses or mule teams from the wagon drawing the corpse of a Union soldier, take the team and leave the corpse to stand in the road. Hence work oxen had to be employed to haul the soldiers home. …My father was hauled 16 miles with work oxen on a sled from the nearest depot and not until almost in sight of home did my dear mother know he was dead. …This sled was drawn by work oxen and to the everlasting shame and disgrace of the name Rebel, they took one of the oxen that had been used to haul the dead man home to his wife and children and butchered it claiming the right to confiscate it as it was used in the “employ and for the benefit of the government that they had sworn to destroy.” These are the acts we are now called upon to forget. These are the acts we are to bury as the “dead past.” These are a portion of the acts we are called upon to shake hands over and greet with smiles – as well a mother be asked to forget her long lost only child as to ask a devoted Union man to forget his past. He may in his magnanimity forgive the penitent Rebel and receive him as a man though his deeds of destruction and disgrace and ruin cannot be forgotten. … We should meet our erring enemies with becoming bravery and ask them to share our victory and friendship as American citizens but never, never ask them to forget the past. I don’t want to forget the past. Let it live and serve as a waybill for erring humanity for generations yet unborn. I feel confident that I am voicing the sentiment of Father had he lived to see the close of the mighty conflict, but he did not.
Father was six feet and one-half inches tall, large and rawboned, long arms, long fingers. He was rather commanding in appearance, black hair and blue eyes, rather good looking, wore #16 collar, 7 1/4 hat, #11 size shoe on account of a corn – one too large (size 10 a better fit). He wore size 40 coat, pants 36 x 36. He would weigh about 175 lbs in the summer and 180 to 185 in the winter. He was good natured among us kids, would quarrel sometimes (considerably) yet seldom used the rod. No doubt he would have got along better if he had applied it more and done less talking which no doubt his children learned to their satisfaction. He was charitable and not inclined to pain their minds.
…Barbara Houck Wilcox, wife of Samuel Wilcox now dead, was a daughter of George W. Houck and Barbara Houck…both of German descent. She was born in Pennsylvania from whence they immigrated to Rowan County, North Carolina where was born several children whose name are as follows: George, Henry, Jesse, William, Jacob, Elizabeth, Nellie, Katie, Barbara and Mary. Some of the above were born in Ashe County, North Carolina where Grandfather George moved at an early date, settling on the waters of New River about nine miles southwest of Jefferson the present county seat, and where Barbara was born [on] May 17, 1814. During her infancy she was learned [sic] to speak German, which language she spoke in her father’s family until 21 years old, at the same time speaking English fairly well. She was deprived of attending American schools and consequently was not educated – only to read the Bible in that language. Her relations in her father’s family were domestic in every sense of the term. She could sew, card, spin, weave, cook and do anything essential to be done in order to make her life useful. Her services were in demand at fair wages in many families in which she did her part ably until over twenty years old when she concluded she would rather be a Mrs. of her own house than doing another’s chores. Hence we find her matrimonially inclined.
Upon meeting Samuel Wilcox by her good looks and loving smiles she soon won for herself his undying affection and that true kind of love which only finds satisfaction in union. The consummation of the marriage as before mentioned took place in Ashe County, North Carolina during the spring of 1929 [sic]. The officiating officer or clergyman was Rev. James Johnson of Ashe County, North Carolina. From the day Mother was united in matrimony it seems that her highest ambition was to prove a devoted wife and make herself useful in all the realizations of a devoted wife and afterwards to become a kind and obliging mother. She was always ready and willing to discharge her duty, know no such word as discouragement. Life’s battles were met and fought one by one and generally successfully. She in her early life was converted to the saving Faith of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She was in her 19th year when converted – or it was during the year 1833 and as well as my memory served me – while in attendance at an old fashioned Methodist Camp Meeting in Ashe County, North Carolina that her soul was made known to the powers of love and redeeming grace.
…Mother was a devoted mother. She became the mother of eight children as time passed. There were seven boys and one girl: Jerome, Francis Marion, Elizabeth, Isaiah, Hamilton Hardin, William, Daniel Boone and Samuel Vernon. Of these Jerome died when only three years old. Francis Marion resides in Beacon, Iowa while Hamilton Hardin resides in Albert Lea, Minn. Isaiah, William and Boone reside in Carter County Kentucky as does Elizabeth, she having become Mrs. William P. Lewis in the year 1865 or 6 in Carter County Kentucky – the officiating officer being L.P. Whitten, JPPC. Mother was a small woman not over five feet two inches tall, fair complected, black hair, black eyes and in middle age possessing a round face with rosy cheeks, an attractive nose and would weight at her heaviest about 140 pounds, yet in later life seldom weighed more than 100 pounds. She was full of real life and inclined to joke and have her innocent fun. She enjoyed the society of the young with as much relish as those 40 year her senior. … The late years of her earthly pilgrimage was much of the time spent with brother Isaiah who had proved all that a devoted son could from infancy to middle age, caring for Mother and having her care for him in boyhood, he taking, as it were, Father’s place at home while Father was in the Army. Isaiah deserves praise and commendation for his devotions to Mother until her final summons came on April 6 at 8:30 a.m. in the year 1893. The other children, no doubt were devoted, yet it was with Isaiah she ate, slept, laughed and wept and called home. Within his house she breathed her last and felt resigned to obey her Savior’s summons.
She was buried at 4:00 p.m. on April 7, 1893 on a bright, clear, balmy April day.
I come now to Francis Marion Wilcox born in Ashe County in the State of North Carolina on November 13th 1842 in the a.m. He lived there until going on several years old when his father moved to Kentucky. He attended his first school, the Subscription school, taught by one Hamilton Hardin (after whom his third brother was named) taught near Grandmother Houck’s in the winter of 1849, learned his first lessons in spelling at this school.
The next school attended was in Pike County, Kentucky near the mouth of Beefhide, a tributary of Shelby Creek, which in turn was a tributary of the Big Sandy River. Here father played teacher for some three successive terms of three months in the fall of each year at this school. I learned to spell and read through the first, second and third readers of the McGuffie’s series. For spellers we used Webster’s Elementary in Common. …Soon we moved to another district called Mouth of Long Fork district. Here our first teacher was a George Francisco of Elkhorn Creek, Pike County, Kentucky. He was a pretty fair teacher.
… The Battle of Bull Run had been fought, Fort Sumpter had been surrendered. Abe Lincoln had called for seventy-five thousand soldiers for 90 days – some said three months the war would end, the Union saved and peace ruling. Others said the signals had been given and that unless the Southern Confederacy was ratified and acknowledged, a long, protracted and bloody war would ensue. The sequel proved that the latter was correct, but Marion, wanting to view things in the former light and having a burning desire to return to the place he had been born, concluded he would return with a cousin and view the land of his native state, North Carolina, and spend a month or six weeks with friends and relations in said state.
Getting Father’s consent with a promise to him that he would never go into the Rebel Army or fight for the Confederacy and would return home soon, Marion, in the company of William H. Trivett, Isaiah Trivett and his wife and three children, did on the 16th day of September 1961 start for Ashe County, North Carolina, where he was to make his first visit in eleven years since coming to Kentucky with his father in the year 1850. … We camped, cooked, ate and drank water, discussed many topics yet uppermost in our minds was one of home which they claimed we would reach by the next p.m., as we were now in Watauga County, North Carolina – once a portion of old Ashe. We arose early, donned our clothing, washed and ate breakfast, yoked the oxen and horses. We had a pair of each, the horned animals working the lead and soon bid our camp adieu. We rolled on like jolly fellows and about noon crossed the county line.
Upon our north set Elk Knob, the most elevated spot on earth that I had ever seen and this day its grey summit seemed to say, “young man, we bid you welcome to the county that gave you birth. I have stood here for centuries, have welcomed your grandfather, father, relations and friends to my summit and ere you return home, you must pay me a visit and stand upon my most elevated crest like Moses and view the landscape over”, to which I bowed in assent, provided I remain long enough and let me say that in October of the next year or the last days of September 1862, I payed my vow in the company of Isaiah Greer, Phillip Greer and George W. Lowrance. We could see 100 miles north and behold a thousand hills at one look. I may speak of the peak later on, but let me say for the present that my name or initials are cut there in a small water birch or mountain birch among hundreds of others.
We passed near the base of this mountain and all day long I would constantly gaze at its elevation and grandeur and must say, although a boy in his teens, there was something that seemed to convince me of an almighty power whose work in rearing those stupendous elevations were beyond man’s comprehension. They were acts of creation such as nothing but an almighty God could do. They taught lessons of inspiration to youth and old age. They were monuments destined to perpetuate the workings of an all wise and independent God until the last loud trumpet shall sound to summon all to a final roll call upon the shores of the great beyond – the inhabitants of earth, those sleeping and those who will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. We urged our weary, sore footed team forward and at the close of this day arrived at Uncle Owen Trivett’s whose name and family we described in some past page of this scratch. They welcome us and we accept their greeting with cordiality and they say, “rest your wearied feet and feast, you are hungry birdies and when rested up and all the dust washed off, we will see what you look line.” These remarks are from Aunt Dicy and she did even examining us closely for land marks of our father and mother with whom she had spent so many days and years yet had not seen for over twelve years. After eating and sleeping we proceeded to dust ourselves and get into clean clothes and present ourselves for that inspection and soon had the satisfaction of knowing that we resembled Father and Mother, both. We remained here with Isaiah and Uncle Owen Trivett for some two or three weeks, got well rested and in fact made Isaiah’s our headquarters or home so to speak. After our rest we started out to visit our kith and kin and found them numerous, kind and clever, all Rebels and in favor of a Southern Confederacy. This did not suit me but the southern people were not running things my way just then.
I hastened to get around to see all my relations in order that I might return to Kentucky inside of six weeks to two months at the farthest. Things passed along well until a month had passed. Many were enlisting and were going to the front, as they called it, to fight for the Southern Rights. War clouds gathered more darkness as time moved along. Jeff Davis, the arch traitor and president of the Confederacy say that in order to check loyal Tennesseans and other Union men in the south from going north, issued an edict to all persons desiring to go north. So many days would be given, after a lapse of certain dates anyone going would be subject to arrest and liable to be placed in prison or made to enlist and fight for the Southerners of States Rights. This Edict was not published until about the time the dates expired and not one man in a thousand ever knew such an Edict had been made. ‘Twas only a ruse and delusion or pretext to force men to do what they had resolved not to do, yet being surrounded by enemies on all sides, they had to accept the situation, remain at home in hopes of a brighter period which failed to come soon and to many loyal Union hearts it never did.
…Two Regiments were made up in this country, the First North Carolina Cavalry and the 26th North Carolina Infantry. The latter was early to the fray and last to come away and when they did come with a final surrender at Appomattox there was only a remnant left of the more than 1,200 that first enlisted. This Regiment was baptized in blood and had the honor, if it be an honor, to lose a larger percent in battle than any Southern regiment enlisting during the war, leaving over 500 men killed, wounded and missing in battle at Gettysburg. Cousins Jacob, Jesse and Wash Houck were members of this gallant Regiment. The former a lieutenant, the latter had his arm shot off at the battle of Petersburg, Virginia. Jesse died near Petersburg, Virginia and Jake lived through.
After these two Regiments were recruited others were in demand. The fife and drum was constantly heard. Mass meetings were announced and generally featuring speech makers – more or less, and new recruits kept “falling in” and were off for the fray. New uniformed Rebel soldiers would return and these uniforms set the yeomanly [sic] all on fire. Well do we remember the young lassies of the South and how they would idealize those brave yet misguided men. We often thought that we would like to be in those soldier’s places while at home here in uniform and be the one to be played to and caressed by some of Dixie’s fair daughters, but then we remembered that no morning lasts a whole day and that there are two sides to everything. So we would rather do with the attentions than to wear the attractions of a Rebel soldier, dressed in Rebel Grey arrayed in opposition to the dear old stars and stripes that had so long waved in triumph over a united country and whenever unfurled brought a new wave of hope and higher aspirations for the emblem and country it so proudly represented. Hence we, although cut off and in a country where the stars and strips [sic] had been pulled down and the stars and bars raised in their stead, once more resolved that we would never raise our feeble arms against the Government that had afforded one and all equal rights and protection under the laws enacted by and for the people.
The period for our return home to Kentucky was now up. The rightness anticipated on our leaving home and the peace looked for had not come. The clouds of war had become more dark. The reins of the Rebel government were drawn more tightly. The Rebel chief, high in his usurped authority had issued a proclamation or edict granting those of adverse opinions or cherishing Union opinions a few days to cross the lines and leave Dixie, at the same time notifying his subjects in arms to arrest all such as those going north to be traitors and cause them to enlist and fight for the would be Confederacy. The writer never heard of this proclamation until after the expiration of days had passed to leave. Had he attempted to leave he would have been arrested and forced to enter the Rebel army or would have been sent to a Rebel prison to linger and to die of starvation. So as he was in the land of his birth, among friends and kindred relations and only seventeen years old, he resolved to remain longer and wait for daybreak. … Rebellion meant separation in more than one sense. We could climb to the loftiest mountains where we could look over one hundred miles over almost innumerable hills and even the rays of the golden sun shining upon their crests in the direction of home could only bring a sigh and a wish for dear old home. Yet far away beyond our northern vision for reaching it our lingering gazes in the direction of home would turn and we would return to our place os stopping, to lay down and dream and think of home. Father and Mother and the children were continually before me. … We saw we were entirely cut off now, no chance to get back. So we had better go to work and make the best of it. Consequently, we hired ourselves out by the day and got 50 cents per day for gathering corn and took it in homemade Janes [sic] to make us a new winter suit. The James was blue and black mixed; coat long tailed and a pretty good fit, made by Aunt Dicy Trivett for which I paid her $1.00 – also pants and vests accordingly.
Next I worked myself out a pair of homemade boots. These boots cost $6.00 and to pay for them I cleared the land for W.H. Trivett and then got one, James Cooper, to make them for me. He forgot to put the stiffening in the shank and they were always annoying me and at bed time they were hard to pull off. These boots were long-legged Kip, looked well enough, but were not so easily managed as by Doghide and Groundhog skin moccasins were at home years before while I was driving old Brick and Berry, my favorite ox team, whose names I give to held in lasting remembrance.
After paying for these boots and some other clothing, I in the early Spring hired to one Nathan Waugh at Old Fields to work on his farm a dry month (60 days). That is, it required 60 days to get in a full dry month. For this month’s labor I was paid $13.00. Thirteen whole big, long Confederate dollars, god in Dixie for its face value. Yet its face value was not very high even among the lovers of States Rights Law Rebellion. Yet it was money then I owned $13.00 of the wherewith, worth less than $5.00 in genuine money. … Directly after working this long dry month, the Confederacy began to feel Father Abraham was coming and that more men were needed. The first enrollment of conscripts, men from 18 to 35 years, were summoned to assemble at their representative county seats and enroll themselves in the regular order, so as to be ready for the calls as circumstances demanded. The militia all obeyed that summons, went and enrolled in order to avoid separation and soon got orders to raise regiments of eleven that they might go in together as volunteers. Rather than be counted conscripts, although this was truly the great driving motive that sent a large number classed as volunteers, they rushed into the Rebel army to battle against the flag.
The 58th North Carolina Regiment known as Col. Palmers Partisan Rangers were made up of these class of men, enrolled conscripts. Col. J.B. Palmer got permission to raise this regiment with a promise they range through East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Virginia affording protection to Rebel homes. This Regiment was raised during the summer of 1862 and was at once ordered to Old Cumberland Gap where it aided in doing raiding and scouting duty for some time. Afterwards it was moved some 45 miles west to Big?? [sic] Creek, Tennessee. Here they did duty during the late fall months of 1862 and from this point the Union men who had enlisted to save themselves from conscription, deserted; some to return home, while others crossed the Cumberland Mountains and made their way into Kentucky and into the Union Army.
The writer came with 1st Lt. Thomas Ray of the 58th and others recruited by him from North Carolina as a soldiers. Leaving North Carolina on the 6th day of November 1862 and arriving at Big Circle Gap on or about the 11 or 12th of November 1862 where he remained until December 19th 1862. While here at the Gap, he played Rebel soldier as demanded, yet never drew any gun, stood in the line of battle one night with a borrowed musket, but no Yankees came and we shed no blood. …The line of battle remained in position all night long. Not a gun was fired yet several flashes minus reports occurred and at sunrise next morning when ordered to break ranks and march to quarters I never saw such brave good humored boys. Part 10
Directly after working this long dry month, the Confederacy began to feel Father Abraham was coming and that more men were needed. The first enrollment of conscripts, men from 18 to 35 years, were summoned to assemble at their representative county seats and enroll themselves in the regular order, so as to be ready for the calls as circumstances demanded. The militia all obeyed that summons, went and enrolled in order to avoid separation and soon got orders to raise regiments of eleven that they might go in together as volunteers. Rather than be counted conscripts, although this was truly the great driving motive that sent a large number classed as volunteers, they rushed into the Rebel army to battle against the flag.
The 58th North Carolina Regiment known as Col. Palmers Partisan Rangers were made up of these class of men, enrolled conscripts. Col. J.B. Palmer got permission to raise this regiment with a promise they range through East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Virginia affording protection to Rebel homes. This Regiment was raised during the summer of 1862 and was at once ordered to Old Cumberland Gap where it aided in doing raiding and scouting duty for some time. Afterwards it was moved some 45 miles west to Big?? Creek, Tennessee. Here they did duty during the late fall months of 1862 and from this point the Union men who had enlisted to save themselves from conscription, deserted; some to return home, while others crossed the Cumberland Mountains and made their way into Kentucky and into the Union Army.
The writer came with 1st Lt. Thomas Ray of the 58th and others recruited by him from North Carolina as a soldiers. Leaving North Carolina on the 6th day of November 1862 and arriving at Big Circle Gap on or about the 11 or 12th of November 1862 where he remained until December 19th 1862. While here at the Gap, he played Rebel soldier as demanded, yet never drew any gun, stood in the line of battle one night with a borrowed musket, but no Yankees came and we shed no blood. The fright was caused by an old powder house taking fire, blowing up and making a sound as through it was heavy artillery fired at long range. We lost no men, but quite a lot of men lost their avoirdupois through fright. The line of battle remained in position all night long. Not a gun was fired yet several flashes minus reports occurred and at sunrise next morning when ordered to break ranks and march to quarters I never saw such brave good-humored boys. This was my first battle in Dixie’s behalf. I was getting homesick to see Kentucky and I told some of Company M I was going home soon. They asked if I would like company they would go with me. I told them yes, I’d be pleased to have them. Soon arrangements were made and off we went.
The night we started was cool and chilly, the 19th of December 1862. Yet by hard walking we kept warm. We left the camp about 9 p.m. surrounded and passed all of the guards and outside pickets. We crossed the Cumberland mountains when no roads existed on the east side of Big Circle Gap. After a while going down the north side, we would swing over and off cliffs and ledges of rocks high as two story houses and truly not know where our bodies would light.
The men were all determined and brave. Yes, deserting an army that they never at heart belonged to, having to fight against their country’s flag, the stars and stripes, gave them courage. The names of those men accompanying me were as follows: Daniel Grayham, Jefferson Greer and Thomas Greer, two brothers; and Isaiah Greer, a cousin. Also Phillip Greer, a nephew of Isaiah; George W. Lourance, a brother-in-law to Isaiah Greer; Robert Jones and F.M. Wilcox. The writer of this sketch was then going on eighteen years of age. We succeeded in crossing the Cumberland mountains by daybreak next morning and crossed the state road running parallel with the mountain on the north side by sunrise and must have walked 18 to 20 miles surrounding pickets thru crossing this precipitous portion of southern mountains. Yet, as we ascended the hill on the north of the road, imagine our chagrin to hear the old bass drum beating roll call at the gap not over four miles off. The point was gained, the road crossed and the woods were ours. Kentucky was yet sixteen miles away and we dare not travel any roads. …We soon found a loyal Union Tennessean and agreed to give him $16.00 to pilot us through the woods. He at once started us over rugged hills and through the woods traveling us as fast as pedestrian speed would allow until night came on. We stopped for the night at a little shanty wherein dwelt a loyal Tennessean with three miles of home. We had traveled about 28 miles to reach this place, less than 18 miles in a straight line.
The next morning we arose with the sun and by 8 a.m. was on the summit of Pine mountain. The line into Kentucky had been crossed. Here we felt like a sinner that has gained Heaven. A loyal family resided on the top of this mountain on the Kentucky side. We got breakfast, bid our guide farewell and came down on through Whitley County, Kentucky. At the home above mentioned I saw my first blue uniform I had ever seen being worn by a loyal man, a Kentucky man. The sight of the blue uniform inspired us all with new hope. Although in a country infested by Rebels almost daily, we felt that we were not so far away that the influence and inspiration afforded by the old flag. No, the residents of the house first across the line were loyal. They spoke of the glorious Union, called the southern soldiers by their true names-Rebels-while the name Yankees, as the Rebels called the Federal soldiers, became Union soldier. How different, yet how glad we were to hear such loyal sentiment. It said to us in reality the Union does exist and the day will come that those arrayed in opposition to the Old Flag must ground their arms and return to the allegiance in the old Union as it was. And so they did.
…The war was raging yet seemed to be off for a season, then brought nearer. I enlisted in the Union Army Volunteers in Company D, commanded by John McGuire first and then by a Captain Elias P. Davis of Carter County, Kentucky. I was a private as was my father who enlisted the same day. I don’t feel that I need to attempt to record my wandering scout raids while in the service of the United States. ‘Twas not pleasant. Much hard and fatiguing duty to do; an enemy to rout often and many undesirable things to be demanded by officers and performed by the private soldiers. The honor of an army is generally accorded to its officers yet in reality it belongs to the men who did the duty. Thousands of times the private soldier suggests a course to be pursued and it is done. The officers command and get the glory, yet they do not merit it anymore than does the poor private lying the ditch.