1st Regiment Virginia State Line, Abbs Valley, Ball Gap, Barboursville, Big Sandy River, Cabell County, civil war, Clint Lovette, Coal River, Confederate Army, G.W. Hackworth, Guyandotte, Guyandotte River, Hamlin, history, J.C. Reynolds, John B. Floyd, Kanawha River, Levisa Fork, Mud River, Mud River Bridge, Ohio, Proctorville, Thomas H. Perry, Tug Fork, Tylers Creek, Van Sanford, Virginia, West Virginia
About 1910, Rev. Thomas H. Perry reflected on his long life, most of which was spent in the vicinity of Tylers Creek in Cabell County, West Virginia. In this excerpt from his autobiography, Mr. Perry recalled the early years of the Civil War in his locale:
Immediately after our first defeat we began to plan for another exit to Dixie, as so few of our men made their escape to Dixie after being fired into at the falls of Guyan, for we knew now for a certainty that we must go south and be a soldier or go north a prisoner; for the Federals were going through the country picking up men and sending them away as far as they could. This last plan was for us to meet at Ball Gap, on Mud river, early in the morning, and a company of armed men would meet us there to guard us out to Dixie. Early that morning I met thirty or forty young men at the Ball Gap. We appointed G.W. Hackworth as our leader, and we moved on Mud river, and the young men came to us all along the way, and when we arrived six miles above Hamlin, we had from one to two hundred men in our company. From there we crossed the mountain to the Guyan valley, and then up the river and over the mountains and through the woods for ten days and nights, and we found ourselves in Aps [sic] valley, Virginia. Here we organized a military company* by electing G.W. Hackworth, captain; Van Sanford, J.C. Reynolds and Clint Lovette, lieutenants. No one knows but myself the feelings I had the day I took the oath to support the constitution of the Southern Confederate States of America and to discharge my duty as a soldier. As they swore me they handed me a bible. I remembered that this is the book that I had been preparing myself to preach, and it says: “Thou shalt not kill,” and it gave me trouble as long as I was a soldier.
We drilled at this place two or three weeks, and had eighty-four men in our company, and they generally used us as scouts, operating from the Kanawha river westward, down into Kentucky and eastern Tennessee. There would be times that we would not see our regiment for two months, and then again we would be with them every day for two months. The Federals were trying to make their way up Coal river, Guyan river, Tug river, and the Levisa fork of Big Sandy river, in Kentucky. Their idea was to destroy the New river bridge and the King salt works. General Floyd had a brigade of soldiers somewhere about the headwaters of these rivers; sometimes he would send large scouting parties down these rivers and drive out everything before them. Sometimes when we would be driving them down one river they would be moving up some other river. I have crossed the mountains between these rivers so many times and was shot at by men in the brush and suffered from hunger and cold so many times that it makes me think of war as the darkest days of my life. At one time I went three days and nights without one bite to eat; in many places we had to live on the country that we were in, and the soldiers in front would get all the citizens had to eat, and the rear guard suffered for food; we did not have battles like Lee and Grant, but to many of our poor boys the battle to them was as great as that of Gettysburg or Cold Harbor was to some of them.
At one time my company and some other company was ordered to Cabell county, and we came to Mud river bridge and went into camp for eight or ten days at this place. During our stay in this camp we had no trouble in getting food for our horses and soldiers for the Reeces and Morris and Guinns and Kilgores and others who lived in this neighborhood had an abundance of this world’s goods at that time. One morning our captain said he wanted eight volunteers who would go afoot for three or four days; he had no trouble in getting the eight men; I was one of that number; Lieutenant Lovette was in command, and at noon that day we ate dinner near Barboursville, and at night we were in Guyandotte. Several times the next day we would stand along the river front and see the Federal soldiers in Proctorville. In the middle of that afternoon we started back for Mud river bridge, and the next day our command broke camp, and we started for Dixie. Why these eight men were sent to Guyandotte I never knew, and why General Floyd sent such large scouting parties to Mason, Cabell and Wayne counties, as he did at this time, I never knew, unless it was to give protection to those who were desirous of going south with their families and chattels, which a great many did, and stayed until after the war.
Source: From Youth to Old Age by T.H. Perry, Chapter 6, p. 16-18. Note: As of 1862, Cabell County remained a part of Virginia and Lincoln County did not exist.
*Company F, 1st Regiment Virginia State Line
Ashland, Big Sandy River, Bill Day, Canton, Clay Hicks, Durbin Creek, Ed Haley, Ella Haley, Florida, history, Jean Thomas, Jilson Setters, John Hartford, Kentucky, Lawrence Haley, Manuel Martin, Margaret Payne, Mona Haley, music, Ohio, Pat Haley, Ralph Haley, Ralph Payne, Rosie Day, Tampa, Wee House in the Wood, writing
We next discussed Jean Thomas, who wanted to feature Ed in her “Wee House in the Wood” production.
“I remember Pop and Mom didn’t care too much for Jean Thomas,” Mona said.
Pat said she had a run-in with Thomas later, long after Ed had died.
“Larry and I went to see Jean Thomas so we could take our cub scouts out there and as soon as she found out he was Ed Haley’s son, she didn’t want a thing to do with him. We never did take our troop out there. She said Pop was blasphemous — which I suppose was true — and he was a drunkard because he would not go along with her plans to be Jilson Setters.”
Mona said, “Bill Day…there was some controversy there between Jean Thomas and Pop and Mom. And I think Bill Day had a lot to do with it. I remember that. He was almost blind. He wasn’t quite blind. He wasn’t blind like Mom and Pop. I wouldn’t say they were friends, but they were acquaintances.”
Mona said Bill Day wasn’t much of a fiddler and seemed to enjoy telling me how his son Clay was cross-eyed and a little “off”.
Talking about Bill Day got us on the subject of his wife, “Aunt Rosie Day.” Mona had great memories of her.
“She kept house for us a lot and lived with us. She was rough. She’s whipped me home a lot of time with switches. She chewed bubble gum all the time and dipped snuff and she would stick bubble gum up all along the door facings and stuff and go back and get it later.”
Pat said, “I knew she dipped snuff. I used to go down and try to clean Aunt Rosie’s house, bless her heart.”
Mona said, “We never called her ‘Aunt Rosie’. We just called her ‘Rosie’. She fell down the steps one time from the landing. She was drunk. Her and Mom had been drinking apricot brandy. I remember it well. They was a stove in the corner and Rosie got down to the landing and missed a step and hit that stove with her head and made a big dent in that stove and never even hurt her. Mom fell down the steps too once, but she fell from the top to the landing. This time Mom fell down, Pop was playing music down in the living room and Mom was dancing upstairs to his music and danced right off the edge of those steps. It didn’t seem to hurt her, either. They could make the house come alive with music. When I would dance, Pop would say, ‘I hear you. I hear you.'”
Pat said Ed used to get drunk and fight with Aunt Rosie Day. He liked to drink with her son-in-law, Manuel Martin. Martin was a bootlegger. He and his wife lived on Durbin Creek up the Big Sandy River. In the 1960s, Manuel got drunk and shot his son at the kitchen table in Canton, Ohio. Lawrence went to see him in the penitentiary, Pat said.
Just before Mona left, I told her, “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you coming over here and talking to me.”
“It’s my pleasure,” she said. “Anything I can do. I’m available.”
At the door, I gave her a big hug and she said, “It’s good seeing you, John. You seem like family.”
A few minutes later, just before I turned in to bed, I mentioned Ralph Haley’s importance in this story. It was Ralph, after all, who had the foresight to record Ed and Ella Haley’s music in the late forties. (Never mind that he wasn’t really Ed’s son or that he recorded him on a machine stolen from the army.) Pat said Ralph helped take care of the family when he was young, like stealing chickens when the kids were hungry. When he was older, he kind of distanced himself from the family by changing his last name from Haley to Payne — perhaps to protest Ed’s treatment of his mother. (This was the surname used on his tombstone in Cincinnati.) The Haleys tried to keep in touch with Ralph’s widow, Margaret, who remarried a younger man named Mel and moved to Florida to work a chicken farm. At some point, she had a grocery store in Tampa called “M&M’s”. In the late forties, Lawrence was stationed nearby and visited. When he went back, her husband put a pistol in his face and ran him off. Pat had no idea why.