By Elihu Sutherland
Manuscript sent to Emory L. Hamilton on October 5, 1940. It was told to Mr.
Sutherland on January 15, 1930 by Jasper Sutherland, at the home of W. B. Sutherland.
Mr. Sutherland says it ties in with Swift s Silver Mine because the fellow found some
silver in Dickenson Co. The WPA Papers, The Alderman Library, The University of Virginia,
I have heard the old folks say that Frying Pan Creek was named that name
because some old hunter found an old frying pan that had been left under a cliff near the
mouth of Breeding Branch. Roll Pone Creek was so named because three old hunters whose names I have forgotten was once hunting in that section. One of them baked a big pone of bread and took it
with him to a deer-stand in a gap near Buck Rock just around the ridge beyond Carrie post office. The pone of bread got away from him and rolled about a half-mile down the hill
toward the creek now called Roll Pone. I do not know how Trammell got its name.
Wolf Pen Branch of Lick Creek was so named because some of the early hunters
built a log pen at its mouth to catch wolves in. Breeding Branch was so named
because an old Breeding once had his camp there.Bill Hardin Branch was named for the
same reason.Priest Fork was named after a hunter
by the name of Priest who had his camp where brother Newt lived.
I was born at the mouth of Mill Creek in Russell Co. My parents moved out here with
I was a baby. They moved here before Newt was born, but mother went back to Russell just
before he was born. I can remember when Ab Kiser lived at the mouth of Priest Fork. I also
remember being at Grandpa Sutherland s on Clinch and seeing Uncle Jess Sutherland come
down the hill driving a small possum before him. They have told me that I was juts two
years old then, but I remember it just as plain as if it had happened yesterday.
I have heard Nelse Sutherland say he was a Scotchman. He always called himself a
Scotchman when he got drunk, which was purty often.
We didn t have many parties when I grew up. I never saw but few until I grew up.
Some of the plays we had was "Pleased and Displeased", "Snap" (after the war), and
"Walking on the Green Grass". We had no banjos or fiddles, and we used singing plays.
Before, during and after the Civil War we had some drums and fifes. Wilson Self, Simpson
Dyer and George Dyer would beat the drum and old man Meaders played the fife. We had
them in the army too.
I served in the Confederate Army during part of the war. I went in at Sand Lick,
during the summer time, probably in 1863. At that time James Colley was Captain of my
company, which was Company E, 21st VA Cavalry, and Zeke Counts was Major. A short
time after I joined my company was called on to fight Burbridge as he came back from his
first attack on the Salt-Works. About sixty of us went to the Levisa River below Grundy, but
above Rock Lick, and waited for them to come back. We lay by the road one night and cut
trees in the road to block the Yankees. We didn t take any provisions with us, so next
morning we strung out in the neighborhood to get some breakfast. Then Major Zeke, William
Grizzle, Mack Owens and me went to see the blockade. The Yanks were there in full force.
We darted back into the woods, but they saw us and followed and nearly surrounded us. But
we went further into the woods and hills and got away. Major Zeke, Bart Yates and I went
up the river and saw some more Yankees. They got after us again and we had to run and
scatter. Lige Rasnick was in my company. It was awful hot and we had run and scrambled
over the rough hills so much that we were tired out. William Grizzle suggested that we hide for
awhile, but I said "No". Major Zeke came up just then and said that the Yanks had caught
Lige Rasnick and maybe had killed him. We got down closer the road and hid behind some
big rocks and saw about 4000 Yanks go by. Some of the Yanks were niggers (sic) - a
company of two of them. We fired at the Yanks and they fired back at us. The bullets
flew awful thick and glanced off the rocks and made the dirt fly all around us. Mack Owens
was behind a tree, but the bullets came too thick and made it too hot for him, making the
bark fly off his tree. So he ran back to us and hid behind the rocks. We heard the Yankee
officers say: "Go up that hollow and surround them." We saw a big company coming, so we
scaled up the hill and went back down the other side of the bend to the river again. Here
we saw them have Lige Rasnick a prisoner. Major Zeke and some of us fired again at the
Yankees and they fired back. This drew their attention, and Lige jumped over the river bank
and went down a kind of a slip 50 yards or more to the river, where he jumped in and
swum across and got away. The Yankees didn t shoot at him until he got nearly to the
river, but they let go at him plenty then, but didn t hit him at all. None of us were hurt. The
Yanks went on down the river, where they met
Uncle John Colley and Sol Colley., The Colleys ran and the Yanks chased them a little.
Sol stumped his toe and fell down and the Yanks hollered a lot. This made Sol mad and
he got up and ran off. When they got to the top of the hill Uncle John Colley said, "Let s take
another shot." And they did. Our Colonel was Bill Smith of West
Virginia. Colonel Peters was not with us when I was in service. I have heard of him though.
One day we were fighting the Yankees Home Guard about six miles this side of Guyandotte
River in Logan co. Some of the men were hard to keep in line. That day a Sloos broke ranks
and threw us out of line. Yet we followed the Yanks about five miles. Morgan Garrett was
the Yankee Colonel. He and Col. Smith lived in two hundred yards of each other. I passed
by both their houses. Bob Mason, Jack Carter and _____ Carter called to Col. Garrett:
"Morgan Garrett, stop and fight. This is Bill Smith, not Capt. Pyles." Pyles had been
captured a few days before that. Later on Guyandotte River the Yanks
had captured 9 of our men. Col. Smith rushed up and chased a Yankee a piece. He fired his
pistol at the Yankee, shooting off his thumb, his hat-band and hitting his horse in the head,
and then the Yankee surrendered. Another Yankee begin to beg, saying, "Don t shoot me;
I m a citizen." Colonel hit him over the head with his pistol and broke it, and told him he
was a coward and not a soldier like the other man who fought as long as he could and was a
brave man. He went on with no load in his pistol and captured five more men. I think this
was in the fall of the year - pretty soon after I went into service. We stayed out there awhile,
and then went down Guyandotte and got over into Kentucky awhile. We soon come back
home. I was on a few other tours, but not of any note. I didn t go to Tennessee with my
company. I got a permit to come home and I was there at the time of the surrender. We were
on duty mostly as Home Guards. The Yankees in West Virginia and Kentucky had Home
Guards too and they sometimes made it hot for us.
No Yankees ever came through the Sand Lick section as far as I know. There was
no bush-whacking on Frying Pan. Nearly all the people here were for the South. Some
Yankee sympathizers were Henry Sutherland, John Kiser and Billy Barnett. There were no
Yankee soldiers from this section. BillyBarnett, living then over on Russell Fork, was
in the Yankee Army. I believe, Andy Kiser and maybe some other Kisers from Dumps Creek was in too.
William Grizzle, Jeff Pressley and ______ were our lieutenants. Pa was orderly
sergeant part of the time. While we were at Louisa, KY, we kept
bantering the Yankee army there to a fight, but they didn t seem to want to fight. So Colonel
Smith said he would make them fight. He ordered us to kill a beef. I got a piece of it and
begin to broil it at a fire we built up. Just about that time the Yankee Home-Guard got
after us. In the meantime Mose Damron, who was one of our men, and lived there, took some
of our men to his house near the Yankee line. The Yankees surrounded them, but they got
out. The Yankees followed them to us and we had to hustle to get out of reach. They almost
shot us to pieces, many bullets passing through our clothes. One of our men carried his hat in
his hand as he ran, and he found twenty-five bullet holes through his hat after the fight. All
of us got away O. K. Harve Johnson used to stay with me when he was a boy - worked for me. He kept begging to go deer-hunting with me, and when a little snow came we went. We come down by
where Rufus Silcox now lives and went up Black Mountain. We soon saw two deer and I
told Harve to follow them and I would go to a stand. When I got there I saw one of the deer
up in the hill above me. I shot it and it tumbled down the hill toward me. Harve heard me
shoot and up near where I shot the deer. He hollered and asked me where it was. I told him
it was in the lap of the tree he was standing on and for him to rouse it out. He began to look in
the tree-lap and the deer roused up and started to run. Harve kept saying, "Mah! Mah! Mah!"
at it, trying to stop it, but it kept going. He shot at it but missed. He followed it and found
it. It proved to be a fawn and it got gentle after its mother was killed, like most fawns did. I
came up and shot it, but it ran off. Harve hunted it up again while I loaded my rifle. It
was in some logs. Harve raised his rifle and said, "I jist dare ye to jump up!" He went
closer, and seeing that it wouldn t run he said "Damn ye, I ll ketch ye!" So he put down his
gun and grabbed it. It got its feet against his breast and kicked him fifteen or twenty feet
down the hill, and then jumped up and ran off. He got his gun, and when he found it again -
for it was badly wounded and would go a little piece and lay down - he called me. "You kill it
- I can t." I did. I ve heard that Dick Colley killed a bear with his fist.
I ve heard Pa tell about Dick Colley being walked over by a bear on Big A
Mountain. Dad was right by then. I have also heard of how he and Nicky Hackney pulled a
bear out of a hole, and Nicky said, "Pull. Dick, pull!" The bear made a noise when it turned
over after Nicky got hold of it. On one occasion Noah Deel had shot a big buck. The week after I was hunting down near where Sam Counts now lives and I found the deer s track. He went toward Black
Mountain, and I tracked him in the snow. The snow was still falling but his tracks were still
plain. He had gone under a cliff and as I walked around the edge of the cliff he jumped
out and threw snow and sand in my eyes. It blinded me for awhile. But I shot and killed
him by guess far down the hill. I killed a white buck one time. He was
a yearling. I found it near Sam Counts on Lick. One could hardly see it in the snow. I sold its
hide to Jim Colley. He said he could sell his other skins better with it. This was before
Timothy Mullins killed his white doe. I saw it once in the Walker Edwards flat. It looked like
a white calf and it ran off before I saw what it was.
I never saw a painter (mountain lion). I saw a wolf or two.
Pa s first house was built of round logs, partly skelped out. I can remember
hearing the wolves howl at night right along the ridge where this house (W. S.
Sutherland s) stands. There was a large oak standing near the southeast corner of the
present house and we could see their sign about its roots next day. Pa got 6 sheep from
John Smith in Russell Co. and kept them until he had twelve. He had to keep them in the field
all the time and sometimes at night under the house - the wolves were so bad after them. But
one day they got out and stayed out at night. The next day Pa went to look for them and he
found eleven that had been killed by the wolves down the Grundy Branch, and they had run the
bell-ewe up the branch to near the barn where they killed her.
We lived down in the old house 4 or 5 years then when I was about 6 or 7, Pa built
another house out of hewed logs up the hill a little piece. They lived there until a year or two
after I was married, when they moved up here to get in level land as the other house-seats
were in the hillside. The first chimney was built of sticks and clay. I don t remember what
the second one was built out of - maybe rocks. Some years before the Civil War a
Hamons found some ore on McClure and took it to Dumps Creek to a shop (forge) where he
ran out couldn t find it again. Then he went west, but later came back and tried to find it
again. He dug a big hole a hundred or two feet deep on the south side (facing the south) of
McClure near where now he now lives on the south hillside below the mouth of Roaring
Fork. He couldn t find any silver and got discouraged and went back west. Some of the
Wamplers helped him build a big ladder. I went and saw the hole while he was digging it.
The old pit is still there. Sometime later I was hunting a wild
cat near the same place - probably within two hundred yards of the place. There was three or
four inches of snow on, but as I went around a little bench I found the snow off of about 75
square feet of ground and a pile of something like corn cobs piled up on the bare ground
where the snow was off. I didn t stop to examine them for my dogs were getting close
after the wild-cat. Later I remembered that the old man Hamons had found his silver in just
such a place and in a piece of rock just like a corn cob, and he had carried the corn-cob rock
to the shop. I then tried to find the place again. But the snow was gone off and I never could
find the place or the corn-cobs. I thought I could go back and recognize the place, but I
never did. Joe Kelley and John Ervin, who lived near the place, dug several holes trying to
find the metal but failed. Doctor Lige Rasnick came to my place once and asked about the
description of the place and said he was going to look for it. I reckon he never found it either.
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