The Origin of
Gap in Powell
Mountain in Lee County has a very interesting history and the man for
it was named has become a legendary figure.
after whom it was named was born in Guilford County, North Carolina in
1750 and died in Russell County in 1840, at the venerable age of 99
His wife at the time of his death was 38 years younger than he and
must have been a second or third wife. After the death of her husband,
Nancy Lovelady, moved to Carter County, Kentucky.
the area for the first time sometime in the late 1700s. Perhaps his
for the first trip to the area was twofold. In his Revolutionary War
application he tells why he came.
eleven militiamen who were returning from Cross Creek, near New Bern
they had been sent to rout some Tories. Being very tired and hungry
stopped on Stinking Creek at the home of an old Dutchman named Adam
and asked for food and lodging. The Dutchman, being a Tory himself,
and the militiamen entered, helped themselves to food and bedded down
the floor for the night, except Thomas Lovelady. The Dutchman's
refused to retire after being assured by Lovelady that she would not be
molested. He determined to sit it out with her, but being extremely
he finally fell asleep on his chair and sometime later awakening to
the girl gone. He immediately roused his company and advised them to
but being tired, they ignored his plea. Soon the house was surrounded
a troop of Tories and one militiaman was shot dead and a Tory had his
trained on Lovelady when one of the Tories, a former acquaintance of
intervened. The eleven militiamen were forced to take the oath of
to the British King and permitted to go on their way.
the Dutchman's house they met with another group of militia and
returned in search against the Tories who had vanished. Nevertheless
went in and took the Dutch girl out and gave her a sound ducking in the
waters of Stinking Creek, and in the words of Lovelady: "Left her in no
condition to carry messages to the Tories." Whether he means that she
drowned is not clear.
he came to Washington County, Virginia, to visit a relative. This
was none other than the wife of Amos Allerd, Lovelady's sister, who
on Copper Creek. Sometime after this Amos Allerd was arrested as a
thief and confined in jail at Abingdon, but broke jail and returned to
the area and in league with John Watts Crunk and some men named Shelly
was again stealing horses and selling them out of the area. Allerd was
hiding out in the woods, and in April 1786 he stole horses belonging to
Samuel and Patrick Porter of Falling Creek. A posse of neighbors got
and agreed to waylay Allerd and take him dead or alive. Allerd had been
corralling his horses in a narrow ravine where a stream emptied into
mouth of a cave near Trimble's Creek in Scott county. As Allerd
this ravine he was fired upon and killed - the first murder in Russell
County and the cave is still today known as Amos Cave.
visit to his sister he again returned to North Carolina, made a trip
South Carolina to move his uncle who had been burned out by the Tories,
afterwards returning to this area where he spent the remainder of his
who lived near Elk Knob, some four miles east of Pennington Gap was a
and was reared by his grandfather James Huff who was a member of the
who killed the half-breed Indian Chief Benge, in 1794. James Huff was
alive in Harlan County, Kentucky, in 1845. App Huff remembered many
stories told him by his grandfather, James Huff.
One of the
told by App Huff in 1922 to the late Winfield S. Rose of Big Stone Gap,
associates Thomas Lovelady with an Indian massacre on Black Mountain.
story as related by App to Mr. Rose was that a man named Breeding, his
two sons, and two other men who were thought to be sons-in-law of
had set up a ginseng camp on Black Mountain and one day decided to go
to Poor Fork in Harlan County to do some fishing. Upon returning to
that night they heard owls hooting around the camp site and were warned
by Lovelady that the hooting owls were Indians. The ginseng diggers
to believe him, but Lovelady being convinced they were Indians slipped
out of the camp and hid himself in a hollow log where he soon became
to the massacre of his fellow men.
at the time Lovelady lived in a cabin on the site of the P. Litton farm
in Lee County and traded with the Shawnee Indians, with whom he was on
The writer has
able, after much painstaking research to prove the truth of Huff's
of the Indian massacre and that Lovelady really did live in Turkey Cove.
In 1788 a
written to the Governor of Virginia and signed by Major Anthony
Thomas Carter and other prominent citizens mentions that one of the
Neal Roberts and three of the Breedings of the New Garden section of
County had been massacred at a ginseng camp on Black Mountain. The
has been unable to verify the first names of the Elam and the three
who were killed, but after much research it has been determined that
Roberts was really Thomas Cornelius Roberts who lived and owned much
in the Glade Hollow of Russell County. On November 19, 1788, Richard
of Russell County was granted administration on the estate of Thomas
After the death of Roberts his widow, Mary, married John Frost who
in the Frost settlement on the North Fork of Holston. Some of Neal
descendants now live in the state of Oklahoma.
The site on
Mountain where these pioneers were killed is a memorial to them with
stream today still bearing the name of Breeding's Creek. Also that
Lovelady did at some time live in Turkey Cove is borne out by two land
entrys in the records of Washington County, Virginia, in Land Entry
1, page the first of the two is dated August 2, 1780, and reads in part:
Thompson 200 acres in Powell Valley in Turkey Cove, near the lower end,
known by the name of Lovelady's place and to include his improvement
also a spring about half a mile above said improvement."
is on the same page, but is dated September 18, 1780, and reads:
James Thompson, assignee of Colonel William Preston, 100 acres in
Valley about one mile beyond where the old wagon road crosses the south
Fork of Powell Valley about one mile from the River and lying on both
of the road and including the improvement made by one Lovelady which he
(Lovelady) sold to one Gatliff and to include the spring of said
that Lovelady was not at this time living upon his improvement. Where
had moved to from here is not a matter of record.
It is a
in Lee County, Virginia, that a low gap in Wallen's Ridge called
Gap was so named because the family of Thomas Lovelady's was massacred
there by the Indians.
bear out this traditional belief, but known facts about the life of
Lovelady, though meager indeed, while disproving the tradition, do
other interesting facets of early Powell Valley history not heretofore
known. It is the belief of this writer than the gap was so named
Lovelady used it as a passage in his travels to and from Powell Valley
to the settlements on the Clinch River.
of Guilford County, North Carolina, was born around 1750. Perhaps no
on the southwest frontier had a more illustrious war record. He fought
the Indians, British and Tories until the country was secure, and
all, lived to the ripe old age of 90 years. He outlived two wives and
a third named Nancy Briggs whom he married in Floyd County, Kentucky,
20, 1821. He died in Russell County, Virginia on June 10, 1840.
His first war
in the Revolution was performed while living in Guilford County, North
Carolina, where he was drafted and sent against a band of Tories on
Creek near New Bern, which was headed by a Tory named Fannin, and
by them "Colonel." After the Tory campaign he again enlisted and served
out a term which took him into the state of South Carolina. When
in a company of twelve men from this campaign, tired and hungry from
they stopped by the home of an old Dutchman named Adam Appel, who was
a Tory, to ask for food and lodging, which was refused. Pinched by
and fatigue, they entered and helped themselves to food, after which
but Thomas Lovelady lay down upon the floor to sleep. The Dutchman's
refused to go to sleep despite his promise that she would not be
He decided to stay awake and watch that she did not slip away and
their presence to the Tories. He, however, overcome by fatigue, fell
and upon awakening sometime later found the young lady gone.
his companions and advised them to leave the house which they refused
do. About daybreak a band of Tories, commanded by Fannin and a Major
Nickels, came up and surrounded the house. Fannin shot one of their
named Johnston Tyler, and was in the act of shooting Lovelady when
Bill Nickels intervened, being a former acquaintance of Lovelady. The
eleven men got off by taking the oath of allegiance to the King of
Britain, which was administered by Fannin. They probably never intended
to keep the oath, but they were nevertheless released upon a parole of
set out on their way homeward and soon met with a party of Whigs who
them. Together they returned to see the old Dutchman, his daughter, and
the Tories, but Fannin and his followers had fled. They took the young
lady to Stinking Creek, a tributary of the Big Alamance River, gave her
a sound dunking, and in the words of Thomas Lovelady: "Left her in a
not the best suited to carrying speedy expresses."
he came to what is now Scott County, Virginia, to visit his sister, the
wife of Amos Allord who lived on Copper Creek. Allord was killed in
of 1786 by a group of settlers after having stolen horses belonging to
Patrick Porter and his son, Samuel Porter. In league with John Watts
and some men named Shelley, he was engaged in stealing horses and
them out of the area. He was corralling these horses in a ravine where
a stream empties into a cave, near Trimble's Creek in Scott County.
cave is yet known as Amos' Cave, but the name Allord has long been
by people living in the area.
sister, Thomas Lovelady volunteered to go on General Evan Shelby's
Campaign of 1779 against the Cherokee Indians. After this campaign, he
returned to Guilford County, North Carolina and, at the request of his
father he went into South Carolina to help an uncle whose property had
been taken away by the Tories, to move to Guilford County.
While in South
he again volunteered, and, after being marched from place to place
the British and Tories, he fought in the Battle of Cowpens. After this
nine month tour of duty he again visited his relatives in Virginia.
at home for the winter, he again volunteered at Abingdon, Virginia,
General William Campbell, and marched twelve hundred strong against
Cornwallis. He then joined the command of General Greene, and fought in
the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. He then pursued Cornwallis to
Mill, where he was again discharged.
declared he moved to the state of Georgia, where his home was burned by
a band of Indians. When he returned to Virginia is not known, but he
living in Russell County, Virginia in 1834, when he applied for a
and he died there in 1840.
With regard to
Lovelady's settlement in Powell Valley there is some factual evidence
prove his settlement there. Alfred Huff, nicknamed App, who lived near
Elk Knob some four miles east of Pennington Gap, Virginia, was a
of James Huff. He was reared by his grandfather, who was a member of
posse that killed the half-breed Indian Chief Benge in 1794, and who
still living in Harlan County, Kentucky, in 1845. App Huff remembered
Indian stories told to him by his grandfather, James Huff.
One of the
told by App in 1922 to the late Mr. Winfield S. Rose, of Big Stone Gap,
Virginia, associates Thomas Lovelady with an Indian massacre on Big
Mountain in the year 1788. The story, as related by App to Mr. Rose,
that a man named Breeding, his two sons, and two other men, who were
to have been sons-in-law of Breeding, had set up a ginseng camp on
Mountain. One day they decided to go down to Poor Fork in Harlan
Kentucky, to do some fishing. Upon returning to camp that night they
owls hooting around the camp and were told by Thomas Lovelady that the
owls were Indians. The ginseng diggers refused to believe him, but
was convinced they were Indians and slipped out of camp and hid himself
in a hollow log where he soon became witness to the massacre of his
Huff further states that at the time Lovelady lived in a cabin on the
of the P. Litton farm in Lee County, Virginia, where he traded with the
Indians of the Shawnee nation, with whom he was on friendly terms. The
writer has been able after much painstaking research to verify the
of Huff's story of the Indian massacre and that Lovelady really did at
one time live in the Turkey Cove of Lee County.
In 1788 a
written to the Governor of Virginia, found in the Calendar of Virginia
State Papers, and signed by Major Anthony Bledsoe, Thomas Carter, and
prominent citizens of that day mentions that "one of the Elams, Neal
and three of the Breedings of the New Garden section of Russell County
had been massacred at a ginseng camp on Big Black Mountain."
The writer has
been able to verify the first name of the Elam, or the three Breedings,
but it is known that a Richard and John Breeding were on the 1778
of General George Rogers Clark to Kaskaskia, Illinois, and that they
enlisted at Cowan's Fort in Russell County, Virginia. After much
Neal Roberts has been proven to have been Thomas Cornelius Roberts who
owned much land in the Glade Hollow section of Russell County. On
19, 1788, Richard Thompson was granted administration on the estate of
Thomas Roberts by the court of Russell County. Roberts' widow, Mary
later married John Frost, a preacher who lived on the North Fork of
River. Some of Neal Roberts' descendants were living recently in
where the writer had reached them through correspondence.
The site on
Mountain where these pioneers were killed is a memorial to them, and
stream still bears the name Breeding's Creek.
Thomas Lovelady's presence in the Turkey Cove we go to Washington
Virginia Land Entry Book 1, where we find this entry: "Entered for
Thompson, 200 acres in Powell Valley in Turkey Cove, near the lower
known by the name of 'Lovelady's Place,' and to include his improvement
and also a spring about a half mile above said improvement."
is in the same book and same page, but dated September 18, 1780, and
"Entered for Captain James Thompson, assignee of Colonel William
100 acres of land in Powell Valley about one mile beyond where the old
wagon road crosses the South Fork of Powell River and lying on both
of the road and including the improvement made by one Lovelady, which
(Lovelady) sold to one Gatliff, and to include the spring of said
that in 1780 Thomas Lovelady was not living, but had lived on these two
land claims, and the question still remains to be answered: "When did
first settle upon them?