Elihu Jasper Sutherland was a man of so great achievement and versatility that he scarcely requires an introduction. A native of Dickenson County, and son of William Beauregard and Eliza Counts Sutherland, he grew up in the Frying Pan section. He attended all available public schools, after which he entered the Chattanooga College of Law, where he graduated in 1920.
During World War 1, he served as an infantry captain. From 1924 to 1928 he was Commonwealth’s Attorney of Dickenson County. In 1926, he was married to Miss Hetty Swindall, and they became the parents of two sons, James and William. He continued his law practice, and in 1948 he was one of he first trial justices to be appointed in Virginia. In 1956 the designation was changed to County Judge.
Known as a genealogist and historian of he area, he spent untold hours collecting family, local, and area history. He was also a poet and author. During his life he published three volumes of verse, served editor-in-chief of the official county history of Dickenson County in 1955 during the diamond jubilee celebration. He was also compile of a historical volume entitled “Some Sandy Basin Characters,” and numerous pamphlets, including the history and minutes of Primitive Baptist Associations of he area. His column, “Pioneer Recollections” was published over a period of years in the Dickensonian, and was read all over the nation.
Judge Sutherland was a true sportsman and outdoor enthusiast. He participated in inter-community baseball games. One of his favorite hobbies was hiking. It has been said that both he and Mrs. Sutherland have walked the entire length of the Breaks Gorge, and possibly more than once. Another of his goals was to walk the length of Pine Mountain from the Breaks of the Cumberlands to Pound Gap, in laps, and I understand that he accomplished that feat, also.
He was co-founder of the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia, and its second president. He was also a member of the National Genealogical Society. Rarely has any individual collected such large store of history, fiction, genealogy, and verse as was found in his private library on Sunset Hill overlooking the town of Clintwood.
Judge Sutherland passed away on July 1, 1964 at Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, and was buried in the family cemetery near his childhood home. He had served as Judge until January 1, 1964, when he retired because of ill health. Surviving him were: his widow, two sons, two grandchildren, and some sisters and brothers.
On September 30, 1972, the major portion of his historical and genealogical library had been removed to the Archives of the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia, and a special program of presentation was given at the John Cooke Wyllie Library building on the campus of Clinch Valley College, Wise, Virginia.
Sources: Mrs. Hetty Sutherland, Clintwood, Virginia, Publications of the Historical Society and personal acquaintances
“…His interests and gifts were boundless. Elihu Jasper Sutherland found time to work with the Clintwood Kiwanis Club, the Dickenson County Chamber of Commerce, the American Red Cross, the American Legion Post # 66 of Dickenson County. He was the county Chairman of the Office of Price Administration during World War II, a member of the Dickenson County Bar Association, the Parent-Teacher Association, the Dickenson county Mutual Fire insurance Association, attorney for local banks and the town of Clintwood. He was historian for the Sandlick Primitive Baptist Church and the Washington District Primitive Baptist Association. He was commonwealth’s Attorney for Dickenson County 1924-27; Judge of he Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court 1931-34; Substitute Trial Justice 1934-48 and Trial Justice 1948-56; County Court Judge 1956-63. He served on the Clintwood town Council and was Mayor of the town 1938-40. In 1945-46, “E J” prepared a new charter for Clintwood replacing the old one adopted in 1894. About the same time he drew to scale a detailed map of the town, which was enlarged and made into blue prints by his son Billy while an engineering student at VPI. He prepared the Clintwood Zoning and Building Ordinance which was adopted in 1956.
“E J’s” gifts have long been shared with students and fellow researchers in genealogical and historical fields. Inquiries directed to public officials of he county have been turned over to him and, since his passing, they are referred to Hetty.
He was recognized to have a true poetic nature. He published two books of delicate verse: “The Sunken Star” in 1917, and “In Lonesome Cove” in 1951. The second volume was dedicated to his devoted wife, who he said, gave invaluable service as typist, research assistant, and in improving the style and contents of his published volumes.
In Lonesome Cove
“Lord, give me strength to move the stones From out my neighbor’s way And may I see him smile his thanks Before I pass away.
“Lord, let me stand upon the Mount of Friendly Hope and Cheer, And hear the people softly say, “He lent me a hand while here.”
“Lord, make me mindful of the need Of others as they cry Do let me sing a helpful song Before my time comes by.”
From: A Sandy Basin Character by J. Hoge T. Sutherland and Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, Publication No. 5, March 1970
Hetty Swindall Sutherland
Southwest Virginia’s Living Legend – Submitted by Marjorie a. Sutherland, daughter-in-law
Southwest Virginia Historical Society’s charter member Hetty Jane (Swindall) Sutherland is from sturdy pioneer stock, and she so proudly bears the two favorite names her Grandfather Austin gave her when she was born on December 14, 1901. Hetty” was a special name to him, for both his wife’s step-grandmother and his second daughter was given this beautiful name. The name “Jane” is special because both of our member Hetty’s grandmothers were Martha Jane. She has lived an exemplary life and brought honor to the name and family it represents. She is lovingly called “Miss Hetty” by her many friends, relatives, and associates.
Miss Hetty was born in a log cabin on the old Swindall homeplace located right in the curve of the Pound River opposite the mouth of Camp creek. She walked to Camp creek School as a child. At that time, Dickenson County Schools lasted only five months, ending in December. Wise County schools ran two months longer, so she was glad she could stay at Grandpa Austin’s for two months each year and attend Austin School on Bear Pen Creek. When the first Wise County Post Office was established in Grandpa Austin’s home, it too, was given the name “Hetty.”
after finishing Elementary School, she secured a second grade teacher’s certificate and taught tow terms at Honey Camp and camp creek, before attending National Business College at Fort Worth, Texas. She returned to Dickenson county in September 1921, and was greeted at the door by “Ma” (Ardella Austin Swindall), who said, “Your Pa has found you a job!” “Pa” was Milburn Eddie Swindall, an the had found her a job as secretary to John w. Flanagan, attorney for W.M. Ritter Lumber and Clinchfield Coal Companies. She later was employed by Cumberland Band and Trust Company, the department of social Welfare, and the Dickenson County Home Extension Service. She also served as Court Reporter for Dickenson County, and as secretary in 1948 for the world famous Clintwood all-woman Town Council, the first in Virginia.
Hetty Jane Swindall was married to Elihu Jasper Sutherland on September 11, 1926, in a ceremony officiated by her grandfather, Elder John Calvin Swindall. A month later they moved into the lovely hilltop home he had built in Clintwood called “Sunset Hill.” The raised two sons, William Hubert and James Douglas. She and her husband were instrumental in establishing the John Counts of Glade Hollow Family Reunion in 1936. Her husband, E. J., was its first president and was its genealogist until his death in august, 1964, when Miss Hetty took his place as Genealogist.
Miss Hetty has always been and continues to be active in many community organizations and activities. She was a charter member of Southwest Virginia Historical Society on March 6, 1961 and was elected its first secretary. She was elected treasurer in 1965 and served in that position for several years. She was elected to life membership in recent years. She was also a charter member of Dickenson County Home Demonstration Club and Dickenson County Historical Society, and is a member of the Big Sandy Valley Historical Society and of Mountain People and Places. She likes to attend Little Zion Old Regular Baptist Church, established by hr grandfather, J.C. Swindall, who preached the doctrines of the church.
Her many honors include the establishment of the Hetty Swindall Sutherland Archives of Dickenson County historical Society at the Dickenson County Library at Clintwood, selection as Dickenson County Woman of the Year, and celebration by the town of Clintwood of her ninetieth birthday on December 14, 1991. In thanking the townspeople, she surprised everyone by remarking that this was the very first birthday party she had ever had!
She has always liked people and continues to be very public spirited, giving her noblest and best to the building and betterment of Southwest Virginia, even to the pick-up of litter along the route of her daily walks through the town of Clintwood in Dickenson County, Virginia. These walks usually include stops at the post office, frequently to mail genealogical materials to correspondents and buyers of her own publications; at the library, to gather genealogical information as well as the daily news from newspapers at the Clintwood senior Center, for lunch and a visit with friends and relatives.
Her mind is quick and her memory long, for she can name off ancestors of almost anyone in Dickenson County. On rides along the back roads of the county, which are a particular pleasure for her, she gives a running account of who lives or once lived in home places along the route. She especially enjoys the trips to the places of her childhood n or near the region locally known as “South o’ the mountain.” She finds a source of strength there, for a new vitality springs from the precious memories of her past.
Miss Hetty has accomplished much in her almost ninety-two years, and still has much more to do. She continues to be a very active genealogist and always finds time for anyone who wants help pin finding his “roots.” She has carried high the torch of enlightenment left to her by her late husband, Judge E. J. Sutherland. For over fifty years he collected a vast amount of Southwest Virginia history, folklore, and genealogy, from which she draws her resources, continuing the work he started and making his dreams become reality. She has edited and published several books from his material, including “Some Descendants of John Counts of Glade Hollow.” She is presently in the process of preparing a second edition of this book, adding new material and updating it to the present generation
Miss Hetty Sutherland is truly a living legend for Southwest Virginia
From: Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia Publication No. 28 – 1994