Counties in Virginia and How They Were Formed

  1. Orange – 1734-1738
  2. Frederick –   formed from Orange 1738-1772
  3. Augusta  – formed  from Frederick 1738-1770 – Organized in 1745
  4. Botetourt – formed from Augusta 1772
  5. Fincastle – formed from Botetourt  1772-1776
  6. Montgomery – was formed from Fincastle 1776
  7. Washington – formed from Fincastle in 1776
  8. Kentucky – from Fincastle 1776-1780
  9. Smyth – from Washington  1832
  10. Tazewell – from Washington 1799
  11. Russell – from Washington 1786
  12. Buchanan – from Washington 1758
  13. Scott – from Washington 1814
  14. Lee – from  Washington 1792
  15. Wise –  from Lee, Scott and Russell 1856
  16. Dickenson – from Wise, Buchanan & Russell  1880.

Originally, all the land belonging to Virginia west of the Blue Ridge was embraced in the County of Orange.  In 1738, Orange county west of the Blue Ridge was divided into two counties, Frederick and Augusta; and Augusta included the territory now comprising Wise.  In 1769, Augusta County was divided and all the land southwest from Lexington was called Botetourt County, named in honor of the then governor of Virginia, Lord Botetourt; and all the extreme southwestern portion of the State as well as the whole state of Kentucky was then in Botetourt County.  Later Botetourt County was divided and Fincastle County, including all the Western Portion was cut off.  In 1777, Fincastle in turn was divided into three counties, Montgomery, Washington, and Kentucky.  Washington County, Virginia, is said to have been the first political unit ever named in honor of George Washington.  From Washington County were formed the following counties: Russell in 1786, Lee in 1792, and Scott in 1814.  Wise County was formed by taking parts of Russell, Lee and Scott Counties.  It had been estimated that the new county of Wise had but 3 percent of its land under cultivation; the remainder was in wilderness.

The above was taken from the book, , by Luther F. Addington.

I would like to add  that Dickenson County, “Virginia’s Baby” was taken from Wise, Russell and Buchanan Counties and named after W. J Dickenson. (F.S.)

Emory L. Hamilton

Memorial Tribute
by Rhonda Robertson

Emory L. Hamilton, born April 10, 1913 in Wise County and christened Emory Lee; he was the son of Jessee and Sarah Baldwin Hamilton. His love of history began at the feet of his
parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents listening to stories of his ancestors told around the fireplaces and porches of Wise County. Emory was a descendant of the earliest of pioneer families having settled on the frontiers of Southwest Virginia.

He often told of himself and his younger brother, J. B., studying by candlelight in the loft of their old log house in the community known as Hamilton Town. They poked holes in the daubing in the walls and roof so they could lie in their beds beneath feather ticks and look at the stars glinting in the dark sky. Beautiful as this was there was a drawback, and he laughingly told that in winter the snow would sift down through the openings and softly fall on them, making them keep their heads under the cover all night because they didn’t dare tell their parents what they had done.

Emory L. Hamilton

Emory Hamilton

Memorial Tribute
by Rhonda Robertson

Emory L. Hamilton, born April 10, 1913 in Wise County and christened Emory Lee; he was the son of Jessee and Sarah Baldwin Hamilton.  His love of history began at the feet of his
parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents listening to stories of his ancestors told around the fireplaces and porches of Wise County. Emory was a descendant of the earliest of pioneer families having settled on the frontiers of Southwest Virginia.

He often told of himself and his younger brother, J. B., studying by candlelight in the loft of their old log house in the community known as Hamilton Town.  They poked holes in the daubing in the walls and roof so they could lie in their beds beneath feather ticks and look at the stars glinting in the dark sky. Beautiful as this was there was a drawback, and he laughingly told that in winter the snow would sift down through the openings and softly fall on them, making them keep their heads under the cover all night because they didn’t dare tell their parents what they had done.

When Emory graduated from high school there weren’t many  opportunities for young men in Wise County so he traveled to New York to study navigation with the Merchant Marines.  It was while living in New York and working on board the Merchant ships that the Depression came and everyone lost their jobs causing his return home to Wise.  He worked odd jobs until he applied for and was accepted by the WPA.   his assignment was to document and record the early settlements of Wise County.  The only problem was that his investigation and recording of these settlements was limited by how far he could walk or with whom he could hitch a ride. The assignment only fueled his love of  history and from this work came his manuscripts of Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, The Early Frontier, Early Settlements and Early Houses.  In addition to the hundreds of articles that appeared in various publications ad local newspapers.

After his enjoyable work in the WPA, World War Ii came and Emory enlisted in the Army Air Corps on January 14,  1941 at Roanoke, VA and trained as an Administrative Specialist, being promoted to Technical sergeant in the 3539th Base Unit.  He transferred on January 23, 1942 to Australia, and then on to the battles and campaigns of New Guinea and the Northern Solomons.

Emory related that it was so hot everyone had to sleep outside at night n hammocks strung between the trees.  These hammocks were covered with netting that not only served to keep out the mosquitoes, but he also told that at night, things would fall out of trees onto the netting and roll onto the ground.  Those things were snakes!  Emory reenlisted in the 309th Army  Air Force at Greenville, South Carolina on November 19, 1945 and was discharged from the service on January 11, 1947 in Greenville.  He might have made a career out of military service, but he returned to care for his widowed mother.

When Emory returned home he worked for several years in the County Circuit Court Clerk’s office until a position opened in the Wise County Vocational School where he taught sheet metal and drafting until his retirement.  Many are the men who took drafting and sheet metal under his tutelage.

Emory was a founding and charter member of the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia and served as its secretary for 30 years before giving up the position due to ill health.  Emory answered hundreds of letters and phone calls each month from people searching out their family genealogy and the early history of Southwest Virginia. Had Emory lived to see the beginning of the Wise County Historical Society he would have been one of its most avid supporters and would have been in the office daily to answer questions and help out.  He took great enjoyment in helping people in their quest and was a fount of knowledge which is sorely missed and cannot be replaced.

From his love of history came his passion for antiques and he had a most impressive collection of porcelain mustache cups and pattern glass pitchers and creamers.  His pitchers and creamers are on display at the lonesome Pine Regional Library.

Along with his keen interest in history and genealogy, he also had a great interest in astronomy and harbored a secret desire to have been an archaeologist.

Emory contracted cancer of he lung, which recurred after a short remission and passed away on November 3, 1991 while hospitalized in Kingsport, Tennessee.  He is buried by his mother and father in the Wells Cemetery in Esserville, VA

I Like to think of him like Indiana Jones, in a leather jacket with a battered fedora, turning to doff his hat in goodbye as he prepares to stride off to a new adventure.

Memorial Tribute to Emory Hamilton
by Rhonda  Robertson

Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow,

I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.

I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush,
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am in the starshine of the night.

I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room,
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I do not die.

Mary E. Frye

Photos of the Guest River Gorge

The Guest River Gorge is one of Wise County’s natural wonders. The Guest River plunges through a canyon carved through Stone Mountain as it flows to join the Clinch River. Rails to trails project that follows an old railroad right of way paralleling the Guest River, a Virginia Scenic River. Trout fishing is permitted in the river, as well as kayacking and canoeing.

During the early 1900’s when timber and coal were being hauled out of the remote areas of Dickenson County, this passage was used as a rail line.

The history of the Gorge shows that millions of years ago the Guest River eroded a passage through Stone Mountain on its way to join the Clinch River. Cutting through massive rock, it opened a deep rock corridor that is a scenic wonder. Many other curiosities exist along the six mile trail, including an old railroad tunnel, bridges using the remaining railroad trestles, waterfalls and rock outcroppings.

Located in the G.W/Jefferson Forest near Coeburn, Virginia.

The Trail was officially dedicated [intlink id=”251″ type=”post”] [/intlink] in 1994, after the N-S Railroad had abandoned the railbed and donated the land to the Forest Service. The railway had originally hauled coal. Coal and saltpeter were mined near the gorge – coal for heating and smelting, and saltpeter for gunpowder manufacturing.

Native Americans occupied areas in and around the gorge for hunting, fishing and implement making from about 9000BC to the mid18th century.

The Forest Service manages the Guest River Gorge area as a Special Area. The 5.3 mile section of the Guest River is designated as a State Scenic River.

Bicyclists, hikers and runners are invited to use the trail. Along your walk, there are numbered signposts indicating points we think you’ll find interesting:

Swede Tunnel – constructed in 1922

Cliff line – Rocks in this and the other cliffs are about 300 million years old.

“Big Shot” – This section came to be called “by that name because it took a lot of explosives to get through the cliffline during constructing.

Vista – This is one of several scenic spots on the Guest River Gorge Trail.

The Culvert

Concrete retaining wall

The Guest river-Clinch River Confluence – The rivers join here

Information: The National Forest Service; Clinch Ranger District

Hikers, Fishermen, kayakers, canoeists and bicyclists are invited to the Gorge to enjoy the beauty of the scenery, and the seeming isolation from the rest of the world.

Bear Creek Lake and Recreation Area

Bear Creek Lake and Norton Reservoir

Located in Wise on Wise Mountain road

Stocked with Trout.

There is also Bass, Carp, Catfish, and Bluegill

There is a shelter with tables and bathrooms are available

Children’s Day is held once a year-Fishing, food, and prizes are given.

Norton Reservoir

Located near Flag Rock Recreation Area

This lake is stocked with Trout
$10,000.00 tagged “Benge” fish contest each year

Norton Reservoir – Fall & Summer

Formation of the Wise County Historical Society

Wise County Heritage Book Committee and members in attendance

Book Committee Meeting

Front r l-r: Paul Kilgore, Esther Congo, Fannie Steele, Rhonda Robertson, Sue Gilliam, Nina Mullins.2nd. r, l-r: Dorothy Witt, Evelyn Slemp, Sandra Collins, Shirley Gray, Edith Hubbard, Beulah Hawk, Gladys Stallard3rd. r, l-r: Bill Gobble, Ed Blair, Denver Osborne, Blaine Sturgill, Mr. & Mrs Tilford Nourse.

The Wise County Historical Society was organized on August 13, 1992 with the following Officers and Board of Directors elected. Dorothy Hall Witt, President; Wanda May Rose, Vice President; Rhonda Robertson, Secretary; Sue Stewart Gilliam, Treasurer; Gladys J. Stallard, Historian; Evelyn Dale Slemp, Publicity Chairman; Dollie Opal Watson, Appalachia; William C. Gobble, Big Stone Gap; Billy R. Porter, Coeburn; Gladys J. Stallard, Norton; Betty Belcher, Pound; Leroy Hilton, St. Paul, and Esther Congo, Wise.

Other charter members include: Loretta Belcher, William Belcher, Dora Alice Blevins, Nancy Baker Brown, Dorthula Carroll, Sandra Wright Collins, Dollie W. Countiss, Don and Sandy Earls, Lillian Gobble, Beth Holding Hagan, Martin Hagy, Pauline Hagy, Charlene Hamilton, Bill Hendric, Edith Gardner Hubbard, Ben & Cornie Julian, Elsie Vandiver Kern, Paul Kilgore, Ganell Marshall, Louise Adams Minor, H. Ronnie Montgomery, Elzie D. Mullins, Nina Mullins, Rebecca K. McAmis, Violet Kilgore McDonald, Patricia K. Norris, Denver Osborne, Golda Porter, James C. Roberson, Benjamin S. Rose, Fay Sanders, Bruce & Margaret Stallard, Sgt. and Mrs. David J. Stallard, Fannie Lane Steele, Helen J. Stem, Barbara and Roy L. Sturgill, Blaine Sturgill, Phil and Shirley Sturgill, Tim L. Sturgill, William L. Sturgill, William R. Taylor, Ralph Vandiver, Nina Holding Wilson, Ernest J. Benko, Raymond Burgin, Fannie l. Hamilton, D.C. Hubbard, Robert E. Lamb, Jr., Jennifer C. and Samuel E. Rose.

Book Committee Meeting 2

Book Committee and Charter Members Front row. l-r: Wanda Rose, Dorothy Witt, Rhonda Robertson, Sue Gilliam. 2nd.   row, l-r: Loretta Belcher, Nina Mullins, Dolly Opal Watson, Sandra Collins, Fay Sanders, Evelyn Slemp, Gladys Stallard, .Third row, l-r: Paul Kilgore, Louise Minor, Esther Congo, Elsie Kern, Betty Belcher, Dot Carroll, Bill Porter, Ralph Vandiver, Fourth row, l-r: James Roberson, H. Ronnie Montgomery, Bill Gobble

In The Beginning

Dorothy Hall Witt, traveled to  Lee County, Virginia,    to sit in on their Heritage book committee meetings at the Jonesville Courthouse.  She knew that there were two volumes of the Russell  County book, and that a group was working on the Scott County history so she was in hopes of a heritage book for Wise County also. Dorothy found that to get started on a possible book for Wise County she must get together a group of people.  When this had been accomplished the first meeting was held at the Appalachian Regional Hospital, November 7, 1991 with 14 members present.  Officers were elected at that meeting.   The committee met at least once a month and sometimes more often. The membership grew in number and with much enthusiasm.

By the summer of 1992, some of the members, especially Dorothy Witt and Wanda Rose, were traveling all over the county spreading the word about the  book at  fairs, church homecomings, class reunions, and in private homes.  The committee held meetings at every  town in Wise County with the exception of Norton, in order to reach those who could not come to our regular meetings.  Dorothy relates:  “It was such a joy seeing old friends again and making new ones.  We spent many hours listening to older people tell about how times were when they were growing up in Wise County.”

Some of the members spent countless hours  gathering information, photographing pictures, selling ads,  proofreading and getting the book ready for the press.

“We were pleasantly surprised to find that so great a number of those born in Wise County have become, not only locally, but nationally and internationally known.  Wise County is proud to be the birthplace of Miss America of 1993, Leanza Cornett, and also the National Easter Seal Poster person for 1993, Virgil Craft of Wise who has contributed much to this book.”

From November 1991, our committee grew to sixty interested persons, culminating in the organization of the Wise County Historical Society in August, 1992, with 61 charter members.


A beautiful book, forest green with gold lettering, hardback, 9 x 12 and  contained 515 pages. We were proud to now have our own Wise County Heritage book. The Heritage of Wise County and City of Norton 1856-1993

August,1994, a meeting was held to elect new officers and members of the Board of Directors, held at the office of the Historical Society.  They  are as follows: Chairman: William C. Gobble; Vice Chairman: Denver C. Osborne; Recording Secretary: Rhonda Robertson; Corresponding Secretary: Dorothy Witt; Treasurer: Wanda Rose; Historian: Gladys Stallard

Members of the Board of Directors:Appalachia: Dolly Opal Watson; Big Stone Gap: Dot Carroll; Coeburn: Bill Porter; Norton: Paul Kilgore; Pound: Blaine Sturgill; St. Paul: Leroy Hilton; Wise: Fannie Steele.  Since this election, some new officers and members of the board, have been installed and others are no longer with us.

We were  given office space in the courthouse. and In  1994 the Heritage book was reprinted.  In that same year we obtained office space in room 250 of the courthouse, which is our present location.

One of most exciting projects of the Wise County Historical Society was spearheaded by Rhonda Robertson and Wanda Rose.  This was putting together WISE COUNTY VIRGINIA’S WORLD WAR II VETERANS: A TRIBUTE.    The book contains 929 pages, with over 6,000 veterans sketches and over 3,000 photos.   Rhonda and Wanda spent several thousand hours typing, copying photos and preparing the book for publication.  It was a momentous event when the books arrived on August 15, 1995, the 50th anniversary of V-J Day. This book was submitted to Tom Brokaw of NBC news during his series of “Home of the Brave” broadcasts about WWII. It was also placed in the Library of Virginia, and other libraries.

In addition to the Veteran’s book, a commemorative calendar of Wise County  during World War II was  published containing pictures and historical events of the War and of the county.

Appalachian Quarterly Volume 1, Number 1

In June of 1996 the first issue of our historical magazine, “The Appalachian Quarterly,” debuted.  Rhonda Robertson is the editor, Ganell Marshall, associate editor. The magazine is published four times a year and contains exciting articles on our region and the southern Appalachians.  The subscription was $10.00 per year for several years, but with rising costs of postage  and paper, we had to raise the price to $12.00 per year. The subscription includes a years membership with the historical society.

The Wise County Historical Society welcomes you to join the membership and join in our activities. It is hard work but great fun.

The Courthouse Centennial was  approaching fast and the society got busy  planning their Courthouse Centennial (1896-1996) calendar. The  calendar contained upcoming events in Wise County in 1996 as well as several old pictures of Wise and other towns in Wise County.  That same  year, the society reprinted the Banner Community Heritage which was compiled by a  member of the Historical Society, Bill Porter.

The next project for the Historical Society was assisting Denver “Bud” Osborne in the publishing of his famous book, WISE COUNTY’S APPLE BLOSSOMS OF YESTERYEAR.

The Apple Orchards of Wise Countybook is a precise history of the apple industry in Wise County.  The book committee consisted of people in Wise county who owned or had interest in  apple orchards. Wise  County was once noted for its unique delicious apples. In 1945 Wise county produced 300 thousand bushels. The beautiful apple  blossom cover for this book was taken of  our  member and co-workers Fannie & Letcher Steele’s apple orchard.

Apple Blossoms of Yesteryear

In 1997 the historical society started planning for THE HERITAGE OF WISE COUNTY AND THE CITY OF NORTON, VOL. 2. The book was published in 2001. This book is distinct from Volume 1, but has the same forest green  coloring with gold lettering, hard back  It has 1133 pages including the  index and is 9 x 12 in size. The many hours of hard work that went into this  book  is tremendous.  This book is filled with stories and illustrations about Wise County and its people.  Another heritage book of which the Wise  County Historical Society is very proud.

Heritage of Wise County and the City of Norton 1856-2001 Vol. 2

The Historical Society has set headstones to mark the graves  for 37 Civil War Soldiers of Wise County who had no stones or deteriorated ones.

Lillian Gobble and Rhonda Robertson are instrumental in locating and erecting stones for Wise County’s Civil War soldiers and spends hours documenting their service and ordering stones from the Veteran’s Administration.

The next undertaking for the Historical Society is now in the works, thanks to Rhonda Robertson and Lillian Gobble, who is working on a Civil War book for Wise County.  The book is near completion and should be off the press sometime next spring.  This book will be a wonderful asset to the Historical Society and  to Wise County.

Note: Between Brothers, Civil War Soldiers of Wise and Dickenson Counties, A Biographical History,  was available in June of 2004 and is a  popular item at the Historical Society office.

In May of 2000, the Society sponsored its first Family History Days on the lawn of the courthouse, where people came to swap family information with genealogists and members of the Historical Society. The family History Days proved to be so successful, that  Family History Days, number 2 was held this year 2002, and another is planned for 2003 which will be a Civil War theme.

The Society has worked with school students in helping them with their family histories, going back several generations for their projects in school.

All the work of the Historical Society is strictly volunteer.   The office is open in room 250 at the  courthouse, Monday through Thursday from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P. M, and on Friday from 9:00 to 12:00 noon.  The Society maintains a bookstore in its office at the courthouse in Wise, with hundreds of area and family histories, and records to choose from.  It has a database of almost 4000 books, magazines, records, and other articles in its archives. The society works cooperatively with the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office and other county officials to help preserve Wise County history.

The Historical Society has over 1000 members and subscribers to the Appalachian Quarterly. It has assisted thousands of people visiting the county from all over the United States  in searching for their roots and other historical facts.

Help us to preserve the history of the area  and families of Wise County.

James Taylor Adams and Luther F. Addington

James Taylor Adams was a prolific writer, a folklorist and a preserver of Appalachian culture.  He wrote thousands of articles for magazines and newspapers of which only a few have been collected.

James Taylor Adams

At work on his typewriter, outside

James Taylor Adams

James Taylor Adams was a prolific writer, a folklorist and a preserver of Appalachian culture.  He wrote thousands of articles for magazines and newspapers of which only a few have been collected.

James Taylor Adams was born February 3, 1892, a son of Joseph and Mary Jane (Short) Adams. He was born in Letcher County, Kentucky and lived in Alum Cove, Little Colley and other small communities in Kentucky.

He moved to Wise County, Virginia while yet a young man. He married in 1908 to Dicy Roberts.  They had a family of eight children. Among James Taylor’s work was  at  the coke ovens in Wise County,  selling fruit trees; owned a grocery store; sold insurance, and owned and ran a print shop. He was a Notary and built houses to rent.  He also established a post office at Big Laurel where he lived and was postmaster there. His wife Dicy also worked in the post-office. He built a Church house; built and ran a library to store his many books, manuscripts, and publications, and to distribute books for people to read. He also built a museum to collect and preserve antiques and old items.

James Taylor worked in the Works progress Association, (WPA).  While working for the WPA he collected old songs and stories of the area and wrote them down to preserve. He became interested in family history and compiled the Adams Family history among others.

James Taylor only had a second grade education in the public schools but was a self educated man. He published several newspapers, some of which was The Vagabond Gazette, Adam’s Weekly and The Cumberland Empire. He wrote columns for several newspapers, and Detective stories for Detective magazines and wrote stories for some Canadian magazines under a pen name of Roland Rivers.

Among the books he wrote was one  called “Death in the Dark,” which is a collection of Factual Ballads of American Mine Disasters with historical notes. He also visited cemeteries of the area and compiled a book of the names and dates on the stones, with a short history of some of the people.  The book is called, “Family Burying Grounds in Wise County, Virginia.”

He and his wife and family moved to Arkansas to homestead land there, lived in Missouri, then back to West Virginia and finally settled  on Rocky Fork at Big Laurel on Rocky Fork. He died in 1954 and is buried at the homeplace there.

MEMORIES by James Taylor Adams

Wild honeysuckles twine around An old log cabin door High on a hill among some pines Above a river’s roar. A winding trail leads down a bluff That’s all aflame with flowers Tis there I wish to take myself  And spend life’s evening hours.

A rock is at the water’s edge,  A boat is fastened there, I’d loose the chain, take up an oar and row ‘way off somewhere. Then as the sun made silvery gleams, along the crystal stream I’d drop my oar and let’r drift And dream, and dream and dream.

And dreaming I would fail to see, The fish a’leaping high, Nor would I hear the gray-squirrel call A I went floating by. Then when the sun had sank to rest, I’d climb back up the hill, To the little house…deserted now So silent and so still.

Again I’d wander ‘long the trails, As in glad days of yore And hear my Mother calling me… From out the kitchen door. In memory lost…I’d pause awhile Then to the churchyard roam Where I will find the friends I knew Around my childhood home.

Some of the above was taken from: “Family Burying Grounds” by James Taylor Adams;. “About My Father,” by Simpson Randolph Adams; Newspaper article found in a scrapbook purchased at an auction in Russell Co., VA by Denver Osborne.

Luther  F. Addington

By Bonnie S. Ball – Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia

Luther F. Addington

Luther F. Addington was born near Nickelsville, Scott County, Virginia on September 3, 1899.  He was the son of James R. and Nancy (Easterling) Addington.  He attended school at Midway and Gate City, Emory and Henry College, and the University of Virginia.

Mr.  Addington married Miss Lou Emma Keys on September 25, 1925.  He served 42 years as an educator, one year in Scott County, Va., public schools, and forty years in Wise County as a principal.  He was also employed for one term as assistant principal at West Palm Beach, Florida.  For six years he was principal of Pound High school, and for thirty four years as Principal of the high school in Wise, now known as the J. J. Kelly High School.

He was a member of the Trinity Methodist Church of Wise, the Retired Teacher’s Association, the Appalachian Regional Library Board, and the founder of the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia, of which he served as President for fifteen years.  He was Wise County Citizen of the Year in 1956.

He was a historian and writer, having published a history of Wise County, Virginia, and several juvenile books, and numerous articles on the history of Southwest Virginia.  He also served as President of Emory and Henry College Alumni Association.

He died on Sunday, February 26, 1978 at the Wise Regional Hospital, following a brief illness.  Funeral services were conducted on February 28th at Sturgill Funeral Home Chapel in  Wise.  Burial was in Glencoe Cemetery, Big Stone Gap, Virginia.  The Rev. James Douthat officiated.  Survivors include his widow and three brothers; Olin of Kingsport, Tenn., Orville of Abingdon, Va., and Omer of Gate City, Va.

From an Editorial of News Director, Walter Crockett, WCYB-TV, we quote in part:

Mr. Addington was a product of the horse and buggy days, for motor transportation was scarce indeed when he started his career, and he worked with others who dedicated their lives to the education of young people in Wise County.

“Even though a native of Scott County, no one has done more to assemble and preserve the history of Wise County than Mr. Addington. In 1960 the writer attended a conference for authors and journalist of the Southern Appalachians at Berea College in Kentucky.  While in the company of E. J. and Mrs. Sutherland we joined Mr. Addington during the lunch hour.  It was here that he suggested the idea of a historical society for the southwestern corner of Virginia, which was organized not long afterward.  He was unanimously chosen as the first president, and was followed by Judge Sutherland, who declined a second term because of ill health.  So Mr. Addington was elected repeatedly until failing health eventually prompted him to withdraw from office.  However, he continued to serve in the capacity of an advisor to the Executive Board.  While his place as historian may never be filled, his research and labor will remain to aid future historians of the Appalachians.”

Elihu Jasper and Hetty Sutherland

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.

Elihu J. Sutherland

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

Hetty J. 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

Bonnie Sage Ball and Theodosia Wells Barrett

Bonnie Sage Ball was a charter member who has served in many capacities.  She has contributed many articles for its annual publication, has done extensive research on families and events of historical significance, and has compiled and published several family histories, including those on the Sage and Ball families.  She wrote “The Melungeons – Their Origin and Kin.”  She grew up among them in Lee County, Va. and adjoining Hancock County, Tenn.

Bonnie S. Ball

A Tribute to Bonnie Sage Ball by Gladys Julian Stallard

From: Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, Publication No. 31 – 1997

The Historical Society of Southwest Virginia has lost a very valuable member who has been with the organization from its very beginning. Bonnie Sage Ball was a charter member who has served in many capacities.  She has contributed many articles for its annual publication, has done extensive research on families and events of historical significance, and has compiled and published several family histories, including those on the Sage and Ball families.  She wrote “The Melungeons – Their Origin and Kin.” She grew up among them in Lee County, Va. and adjoining Hancock County, Tenn.

She was a retired schoolteacher, a homemaker and mother of four. … Her ancestors are from London, England. Bonnie was  born Dec. 17, 1901 on Wallen’s  Ridge near Stickleyville, Lee County, Va.  She was brought into this world by Dr. Bradley T. Young, during a blinding snow storm. Bonnie was the fourth of 13 children of Vas Sage and his wife, Mary  “Mollie” Duncan. When Bonnie was six years old her father moved off the ridge so the children would be near the Stickleyville school.

Bonnie attended Radford Normal School for women.  She taught school during the winter and continued her education at Radford during the summer. In 1926 she went to St. Charles in Lee County to teach.  There she met Palmer Ray Ball. They were married a few months later. The next year they moved to Virginia City in Wise County, then resided in Haysi, VA. for a period of time.

Bonnie taught school in Dickenson and Buchanan Counties. She was also News correspondent for the Bristol Herald courier, the Coalfield Progress, the Dickensonian, the Roanoke Times and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Bonnie retired in 1967, after a total of 33 years in the teaching profession.  she and her husband moved to Big Stone Gap, less than a block away from the June Tolliver House and the site of the John Fox Jr. drama, “The Trail of he Lonesome Pine.”

Bonnie Ball remained busy.  She was a member of Virginia Creative Writers, Trinity United Methodist Church, the UDC, DAR, and several historical societies.  She was a life member of the Virginia Retired Teacher’s Association.   She recorded cemeteries, researched courthouse records,  compiled a history of Methodist Churches, wrote a book of verse and a book of Appalachian Folklore.  Besides all these activities,  she published a bicentennial history, “Stickleyville – Its Schools, History and People,” and carried on a voluminous correspondence with people all over the United States.

Bonnie Ball suffered Health problems during her later years and lived for sometime in Heritage Hall in Big Stone Gap.  She remained alert until her death.  She died after a short illness in the Lonesome Pine Hospital, Saturday, May 11, 1996, at the age of 95.  She was preceded in death by an infant son, by her husband and a daughter, Dorothy Ball Booten of Chicago Heights, Ill.

She was survived by a son, George Ball, San Diego, Calif.; a daughter, Nancy Ball of the home; a sister, Thelma Powell, Richmond, Va.; three brothers, Carl Sage,  Orleans, Ind., Earl Sage, Stickleyville and Ralph Sage, Kingsport, Tenn.; and by four grandchildren.

Funeral services were conducted in the Holding Funeral Home Chapel, Monday, May 13, at 8 p.m. with the Rev. Buford Hankins and the Rev. Joe Berta officiating.  Graveside services were held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 14 in the Cecil-Frye Cemetery, Pennington Gap in Lee County, VA.

Bonnie Ball will be missed very much indeed, but her accomplishments and name will be familiar to people of like interests for generations to come!

Theodosia Barrett

Theodosia Wells Barrett, 88, died Saturday, March 23, 1991, at her home.  She was a native of Swords Creek section of Russell Co., and a former resident of Tazewell Co., and Florida.  She  was a widow of Frank Barrett.

She was a graduate of Radford University and retired school teacher in Russell, Tazewell and Buchanan counties.  She authored several local history books and articles and chaired “The  Heritage of Russell County 1786-1986.”  Her first book , “Pioneers on the Western Waters,” is the only written history of northwestern Russell Co.  She was a member  of numerous historical and genealogical societies and the National League of American Pen Women.  She was a member of the United Methodist Church.

From: Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, Publication No. 26 -1992.