By Bonnie S. Ball
of progress and industry one is prone to lose sight of the characters
frequently stand on the sidelines recording the events of history. Some
were poets who discovered the beauty of the area and the genuine
of the sturdy mountain people. Others sought to preserve the folklore
past generations, and at the same time, introduce their readers to the
new phases of industry, education, music, and literature through
news media. There are those who possessed the quality of humor, and
with and wisdom delighted their readers, while others chose to stress
more abstract principles of integrity, charity, and the essentials of
Many of these
already been eulogized in our society's publications. Elihu Jasper
Luther F. Addington, and James Taylor Adams were undoubtedly the most
of our mountain writers. Their massive volumes and files are in our
and area libraries. The two first mentioned of
these men were busy individuals who
full-time professional jobs until retirement. J. H. T. Sutherland spent
much time at his desk writing in the educational field, and was
of Dickenson County's Diamond Jubilee History. D. B. Holyfield of Wise
County was also once an active columnist. Dr.
Goodridge A. Wilson in his column for
Roanoke Times, frequently wrote lucid articles in his day about the
Few persons in more recent years have influenced the reading and
public of Dickenson County to a greater extent than the late Remire
Others of Southwest Virginia
include: R. M. and H. M. Addington of
County; Mrs. Ada Grace Catron of Lee County; Lundy Wright of Dickenson
County; and Hannibal Compton and H. Claude Pobst of Buchanan County;
Adkins, Carl Knight, Lindsey Horton and others of Wise County; and we
add, an adopted son of the area, John Fox, Jr.
Now, don't get
wrong, not all the literary artists of our area are dead. Those who
before have not pushed their pencils and pounded their typewriters in
Others have taken up the torches and are going on as contemporary
and authors. There are many, so please forgive me if I omit some. There
are Dr. Leland B. Tate, James Hagy, Gordon Aronhime, Clarence B.
Sr., Edgar S. Fraley, Bruce Crawford, E. Malloy Counts, former
of the area; William (Chide) Wright who wrote of "Devil John" Wright,
Vera Duff Gilmer of Russell County, Dr. E. L. Henson, Emory L.
Rhonda Roberson and Nancy Baker of Wise County. Roy V. Wolfe and Omar
of Scott County; Mrs. Anne W. Lanningham, Mrs. Hattie Bales, Mrs. Hazel
Joyce and Mrs. Vicki (Peters) Gaddis of Lee County. Mr. Roy Sturgill of
Bristol, Virginia, Dr. Dennis Agay, Ralph Rasnick of Norton, and last
not least our own Hampton Osborne, Glen Kiser of Grundy, Burrell Payne
(Sports), Bill Anderson, Mrs. Hetty Sutherland of Clintwood, A. A.
Jr., of Clintwood, also William Martin, Mrs. Gaynelle Malesky (Verse)
Norton, and doubtless others.
to know that our area history and literature will not die with our
Gregory Vanover of Clintwood is said to be compiling a genealogy. Ms.
Clement Kiss, daughter of the late Dr. H. W. Clement of Coeburn, has
on the staff of the Kingsport Times for more than twenty years. Andrea
Tayloe of Sandlick majored in journalism and is now (1979) with a
firm in Georgia. Miss Jeanne Powers, a daughter of Kline and Negetha
is a graduate of Clinch Valley College and has won a fine reputation in
those int he field of musical composition, we would be surprised to
quite a few from the Southwest corner of Virginia. Among these are: the
Carter Family of Scott County, the Stanley Brothers, Bluegrass
of Dickenson County, and our own Dr. Joe Smiddy of Clinch Valley
Mrs. Dolly (Rose) Mullins of Clinchco has composed some of her own
and is in the field of religious music. Also we have the Clinard
family of Haysi.
time I shall
present as briefly as possible, the biographies of two natives of our
who were men of great potential and talent, but as different as day and
night. The first was little known to those born after 1920, and the
would be hard to forget.
Frank Monroe Beverly
English family name and local tradition indicates that an Elijah
was the common ancestor of the Southwest Virginia clan, and that his
emigrated from Hull, England prior to the Revolution. The available
of this lineage was provided by Professor Walter F. Beverly, a
former teacher in the John Marshall
School of Richmond. He is a direct descendant of the first Elijah
A John Beverly
come to York County, Virginia in the 17th century, but later moved to
Carolina as a planter and surveyor. Among other children was a son
Elijah. This Elijah married Mary Freeman in Orange County, North
In 1794 he settled in Grayson County, Virginia, went back to North
for a brief stay, then came back to what was Wythe County in 1801. In
he was living in Tazewell County, Virginia. It was here that his son
Jr., was born. Later they moved to Pike County, Kentucky. Elijah and
of his children later moved back to Virginia and he spent his last
days near Coeburn (then known as Guest
and in Russell County). He die din 1835 at Castlewood, and was buried
Jr., son of Elijah, Sr., bought a large tract of land on Honey Camp
and Longs Fork. His wife was Nancy Hamilton, a daughter of Schuyler
and one of their sons was William Walter Beverly. He married Elizabeth
Gentry and built their home on Crabtree Branch. Here their first child
was born on January 2, 1857, and was named Franklin Monroe Beverly.
the grandfather and other members of the Beverly Clan moved to McDowell
County, West Virginia in 1860, but they still did not escape the
of lawless and thieving bands from both sides during the Civil War
In 1867 the
returned to their old home where William Walter put up a grist mill on
the Cranesnest stream, and ground corn into meal for the neighborhood.
Prior to 1870,
had no public schools, but Frank Monroe Beverly managed to attend the
subscription schools available in the area. The free schools came to
County in 1871, but it was hard to find qualified teachers. In 1874 the
family moved to a little village called Freeling. Young Beverly had
advanced further than the teacher
so he was permitted to attend school at Darwin under the instruction of
Mr. French. He gradually made the acquaintance of books which were his
real love for the rest of his life. He decided to become a teacher, and
qualified by taking a teacher's examination at Gladeville (Wise). While
he later left the teacher profession, he never lost interest in schools
inherited some of his ancestor's wanderlust. He became a regular moving
van after his marriage to Mary Jane Fleming in 1882, but never left
County. He was essentially a farmer, but was not too fond of tilling
soil. Yet his environment and growing family left no other choice. At
he enjoyed the pastoral life, which inspired some of his most vivid
Beverly family finally settled in a rural community near Clintwood,
Flemingtown, and remained until 1902 when they sold the farm and moved
to George's Fork. Eight years later they moved to Osborne Gap. He had
in establishing a post office at a place called Dwale. Around 1910 they
moved to a spot at the mouth of Cutter Creek where they lived until
Here Mr. Beverly became Postmaster of the settlement, and it was called
the Freeling Post Office. He called his home "Bonnywicket", where among
the hemlocks and rhododendrons, he spent his last days.
The only time
deserted the farm was in 1907, when he moved to Clintwood to edit and
the local newspaper. Three months later he moved back to his rustic
leaving the burdensome chores of running a newspaper to his sons.
His wife was a
of "Holly Creek" John Mullins, the first settler of Clintwood. Their
were: Claude F. and Walter Egbert Beverly; Mrs. Cora Carrico; Mrs.
Blye Todd-Davis; Mrs. Augusta Agee. Edgar R. Beverly, a teacher, Cedric
Sylvester Beverly, and Fitzhugh Sewell Beverly.
Walter E. Beverly was a printer at
Mount, Virginia and Fitzhugh S. Beverly was publisher and editor of the
Dickenson County Herald for some years, and continued in the printing
for the rest of his life.
wrote poetry, short stories, sketches, essays, news items, and letters;
no one will ever know how many. They appeared in magazines and
many were placed in scrapbooks, some were lost or destroyed. It is
that not more than half his poems, and even less of other materials are
in the family collection.
In 1926, Bruce
of the Coalfield Progress visited "Bonnywicket" and readily understood
Mr. Beverly's ability to report news items so well, since patrons of
tiny post office arrived continually with odd and exciting stories.
of all Mr. Beverly resented some of the editor's revisions. One day he
said to a friend: "They evidently think we are deformed cranks and
I sent them a germ of that story and look what they made of it! A bias
and unfounded reflection on our whole people!"
He had no
His verse was the gift of God. He wrote more than 500 poems that were
here and there - Courier Journal, Richmond Times Dispatch, Roanoke
Richmond News Leader, The Sunny South Progress, and many others. He
dozens of letters from editors and appreciative
At the age of
Frank Monroe Beverly expressed his desire to publish a book, but the
of a writer is no easy one. It was eleven years before his ambition was
fulfilled. He was aided, advised, and encouraged by his staunch friend,
Elihu Jasper Sutherland. At the outset Mr. Beverly had difficulty in
a borrower to return some of his scrapbooks. More than a hundred of his
poems were copied. Local papers carried advertisements.
and delays the books finally arrived from the Shenandoah Publishing
at Strausburg, Virginia. They reached the Fremont Railroad Station on
16, 1928, and on the following day, Mr. E. J. Sutherland placed 50
in his Ford car and drove over to "Bonnywicket." When he laid the first
copy into the unsteady hands of the ailing poet he slowly examined the
new covers and gold inscription. Lovingly he opened it. His hands no
shook. His face was radiant and his failing eyes shone with new
Tears filled them as he extended his feeble hand and said softly, "This
is my day. I am happy!"
So great was
Beverly's love for books that he had accumulated 5,000 volumes in his
As his end approached he requested that some of the surplus books be
to area colleges and libraries. Some were sent to the State Library in
Richmond. He died on July 1, 1929 at "Bonnywicket." Notices of his
eventually reached the desks of editors near and far, who responded
beautiful tributes to the deceased Beverly. Wrote the editor of The
Times Dispatch: "In his death Southwest Virginia has lost one of its
interesting and picturesque figures."
So, with the
of a mountain poet, his "Echoes of the Cumberlands" survived to be
and appreciated by others.
Herbert Maynor Sutherland
a son of George and Rosina Skeen Sutherland, was born near Nora in
County, Virginia, in 1893. After attending the area public schools he
Concord College, a Prep school at Athens, West Virginia, and graduated
in and around lumber camps in that state, where he acquired the
In 1913 he
at the University of Richmond, and by his senior year he was
of the Richmond Collegiate. He graduated in 1917 with a bachelor of
Degree and was employed by the Richmond daily papers until he enlisted
in the U. S. Army in March, 1918. He served overseas during World War
principally in France, where he sustained wounds, and was honorably
in 1919. He was hospitalized at Walter Reed Hospital for a period of
in Washington, DC.
in the School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York, where
received the degree of Bachelor of Literature in 1921. Then he worked
the New York Globe and after it ceased publication he worked for the
In 1924 his
failed and he returned to Dickenson County to recuperate. There he
his time hunting, fishing and writing. In 1929 he entered a short story
contest sponsored by True Story Magazine and won first prize.
He was married
1930 to Miss Irene Draper, a teacher of Big Stone Gap. They are
by a daughter, Rose Ella Sutherland who is now a teacher at U. S. Army
base in Germany.
Mr. Sutherland became interested in local politics, and was elected for
four terms to the Virginia House of Delegates.
In 1939 he
the Dickenson County Weekly and named it The Dickensonian. He published
a column each week called "Tales of the Tall Timbers," which was read
enjoyed all over the country, and by the men in service all over the
during the 1940's and 1950's. This column included stories told to him
by friends and associates in the Appalachian area. His tall tales were
published (after his death in 1867) in a volume called "Tales from the
Devil's Apron." It was brought out in 1970 by the Commonwealth Press of
Radford, Virginia. In conclusion I shall quote one of his tall tales:
"Hit seems as
all the young'uns had come on time to school 'ceptin Bizziness Bill's
boy, Leetle Ike, and he come in 'bout two hours late...wall, Leetle Ike
he come in late long after books had done tuck up, an' Miss Samanthy
jumped on Leetle Ike a-wantin' to know how come he was so late a-
thar. Wall, hit's kinder like this, Teacher. Las' night we'uns had done
gone to bed. The chickens out at the hen-house started squawkin'. Fer
last week or so thar's been a pole cat er fox atter 'em, and they's
a-roostin' in that persimmon tree behindst the house.
outta bed in his onderwear, an' grabbed his ol' double barreled shot
and headed outta the house. I follered 'im out thar as quick as I could
git my britches on. Pap was a-standin' thar onder th' tree, lookin' up
to see ef'n he could locate th' varmint that was atter th' chickens,
hit wuz too dark t' see much.
Big Howdy, our ol' hound-dog, come out t'see whut th' ruckus was about.
He come up behindst Pap, an' stuck his col' nose 'ginst Pap's bar skin.
Pap he let out a yell, an' jumped 'bout six feet straight up in th'
an' he let off both barrels uv that thar shot gun at th' same time. Hit
rained chickens all over th' place, an' me and Ma've bin pickin'
of Southwest Virginia, published by The Historical Society of Southwest
Virignia, publication 13 - 1979, pages 14 to 19