the road from Wise to Coeburn, once lived perhaps
the first Methodist preacher in the present bounds
of Wise County, the Rev. Reuben Steele. In Russell
County Land Entry Book (oldest records) page 225,
Emory Hamilton and Luther Addington found this
record: "Reuben Steele, from Joseph Clark, land on
top of Guests Mountain, 100 acres on Land Office
Exchange Warrant, No. 2617, dated December 29, 1831,
to include an old improvement made by Joseph Clark,
and the springs near it."
is believed to be the first settler in the Guest
Mountain section, coming there probably around
Steele was the oldest child of Samuel Steele and
wife, Jerusha Powers, daughter of Jonas Powers,
Jr. and Jerusha Harmon. Reuben was born 29
September 1802, Wythe County, VA. When he was
three or four years old, the family moved to
Whitley County, KY where Reuben remained until
after he had helped settle the affairs after his
father's death in October or November 1822.
and Jerusha were not Christians while Reuben was
growing up, but Samuel was converted on his
deathbed and exhorted his family to meet him in
heaven. Reuben soon joined the church; also, his
mother, and all his brothers and sisters who were
sought the blessing of the Holy Spirit for 18
months before it came with power. He immediately
started for his boyhood's wicked associates. When
they saw him coming, some ran; other fell down and
begged him to pray for them. He had the impression
that it was his duty to preach, but he resisted.
Eventually, he consented to get a license to
exhort, which he did for about six years. When he
was 25, he came to Virginia, probably Bland Co. On
7 June 1827, he married his first cousin, Mary
Elizabeth Newberry, daughter of Samuel and Eunice
Newberry. Around 1830, they came to live on Guest
Mountain. They had five children: Samuel, who went
to California in the 1849 Gold Rush; and died 1880
in Oregon, while intending to come home; Harvey,
lived in Hawkins Co., TN; Jane, married Solomon
Osborne; Julia Ann married (1) Martin Anderson (2)
M. de Lafayette Willie; and Elizabeth, died in
infancy, probably near the time her mother,
Elizabeth Newberry Steele, died 1837. The mother's
grave was the first in what is now known as the
the time Reuben Steele lived here, he was one of
the Commissioners appointed by the Virginia
Assembly to superintend and direct construction of
a road from Pound Gap of Cumberland Mountain on
the Kentucky line, to intersect the construction
of the Fincastle and Cumberland Gap Road at some
suitable point in the County of Russell.
Steele was licensed to preach 1836. His first work
was on the Kentucky border. In 1872, he left a 6
page letter detailing his life.
was married (2) 9 September 1841 to Elizabeth
Forkner, b. 16 June, 1819, Surry Co., NC; daughter
of the Rev. Isaac and Sarah Ellis Forkner. They
had children: Isaac; George A.; William T.;
Robert; Reuben Elbert; Henry; Rev. Charles E.; and
sold his Guest Mountain property to William Nash
and moved to a 1000 acre farm on Clinch River,
near Pattonsville, Scott Co., VA.
the Civil, Reuben was Chaplain of the 64th
Regiment of the Virginia Mounted Cavalry, of the
Confederate Army. After the war he became an
outstanding minister in Southwest Virginia, facing
hostility and threats with courage. He was
instrumental in the conversion of 7,000 and 8,000
joining the church.
Steele died August 20, 1876 and is buried in the
Reuben Steele Cemetery, near Pattonsville, Scott
Co., VA. The Rev. John Boring preached the
funeral service to more 1200 people.
Gladys Julian Stallard
Excerpt regarding Rev. Reuben
Steel from The Family and Name of Kennedy and Powers
by Wade Powers Kennedy, published privately in 1941.
"Jerusha Powers, third daughter of
Jonas Powers, married Samuel Steel, who was born in
Wythe County, Va. There was born to this union, a son,
Reuben, who became one of the most powerful and
influential miinsters of the Gospel of this mountain
section. Reuben Steel was reared in Whitley
County, Ky. Returning to Virginia, the now Rev.
Reuben Steel, settled in 1830 in Russel County, Va.,
now Wise County, Va., at what is known as the "Wick
Nash Place" on top of Guests Mountain on the road
leading from the town of Wise, Va., to the town of
Coeburn, Va. There, near the head of Steel's
Fork (a stream named for him, of the Cranes Nest
River), his first wife, Elizabeth Newbery, daughter of
Samuel II and Eunice Powers Newbery, died in 1837 and
was buried in the first grave in the old Nash
Licensed at first as an exhorter, in
which capacity he served four or five years, Rev.
Reuben Steel was licensed to preach in 1836. His
first ministerial work was along the Ky. border where
he formed a mission which was served by him from
1836-38. In 1839, he traveled to the Clinch
River Mission. He was admitted into the Holston
Conference in 1841, and was ordained a deacon in
Knoxville, Tenn. Oct. 9, 1842, by Bishop Waugh.
Rev. Reuben Steel was chaplain of the 64th Regiment of
Virginia volunteers during the Civil War. His
second wife was Elizabeth Faulkner, daughter of Isaac
and Elizabeth Faulkner. He was father of fifteen
children: five by his first wife, Elizabeth Newbery,
and ten by his second wife, Elizabeth Faulkner.
This lovable man and veteran of the cross died at
Pattonsville, Scott County, Va. and was buried Aug.
20, 1776. His funeral services were conducted by
the Rev. John Boring. Through the great gospel
power of the Rev. Reuben Steel, 7,000 mountain souls
were converted and 8,000 members added to the
Rev. Reuben steel was father by his first wife,
Elizabeth Newbery, of Henry, Jane, Julia, Harvy, and
Samuel. By his second wife, Elizabeth Faulkner
of N.C., Rev. Reuben Steel was father of Isaac,
Alexander, William, Robert, Elbert, Rev. Charles,
Sarah, Fannie, Elizabeth, and Henry."