Emory Gardner Place
James Monroe Hill Settlement
Location: Three miles above Dorchester on
west bank of Powell River, 600 yards northwest of the Laurel Grove Baptist
Church, on knoll or foot hill of Black Mountain overlooking Powell River.
Date: Built 1854.
Owners: Land was patented to James Monroe
Hill by John Johnson, Governor of Virginia, May 17, 1853, 43 acres lying
in Lee Co., VA on the Powell River. Hill sold to Patrick Hagan, August
27, 1890. Hagan sold to John W. Gardner, January 26, 1900. John Wiley Gardner
sold to W. W. Gardner, December 22,
1909. W. W. Gardner sold to Emory Gardner,
July 2, 1921. Emory Gardner still owns the place.
Description: The first house at this place
was a four room log house. It was two stories high and the rooms were divided
by a chimney in the center making two separate buildings although they
were under the same roof. The center chimney opened into the two first
floor rooms with a wide fireplace. The covered space
between the two buildings was used for storing
wood, saddles, spinning wheel, etc. Long porch across front. The house
had two batten doors one facing east and the other west. These doors were
hung on hand- made hinges, made in a shop by James M. Hill, Sr., and one
is still in the possession of Dr. J. M. Hill of
Wise, VA. The locks were the lift latch type
made of iron. The house was floored with hand sawed poplar planks. On the
first two floors the flooring of the second floor was laid down on dressed
joists and made a ceiling overhead for the two first floor rooms. One part
of the house had a small stairway leading up from
the interior while the other part was reached
by a ladder. This house was about 18 x 20, but being built separately,
one room upstairs and one down in each of the two buildings it was almost
the same as two houses although it was all enclosed under one clapboard
roof. The south room of the house was used as a
kitchen. It had a wide fireplace with a wooden
stick reaching from jamb to jamb under the arch rock, with a chain fastened
to it with hooks on the chain for hanging the pots. All the mantels were
plain, hand made.
This house was located
on the same spot as the present Emory Gardner house and was torn down to
make room for the present house. The old Hill house had a stone cellar
Nearby about twelve feet from
the south corner of the old house stood a hewn log smoke house with a dirt
floor. In this was a long bench for storing the winter's supply of meat.
The meat was salted
down on this bench during the winter and
was taken out in the spring and smoked with hickory sticks. There was also
a large tub in the smokehouse that was used during hog killing time for
scalding the hogs, washing the meat, etc.
Around the present
house still stands a number of large apple trees that were planted by J.
M. Hill. These apple tree sprouts were brought from the south fork of the
Pound River by Hill. At the beginning he planted 120 trees.
of James Monroe Hill, Sr., came from England and settled in Amherst Co.,
VA. Edward Hill, grandfather of J. M. Hill, Sr., married a Day in Amherst
Co. He resided there awhile and later came to Scott Co. and settled on
Clinch River. He had three sons, Edward Hill, Jr., Solomon Hill and
Daniel Yancy Gordon Hill.
One of these sons lived to the age of 104
years and another to 106 years.
J. M. Hill, Sr.,
was a son of Daniel Yancy Gordon Hill, who married Lucy Harris of Giles
Co., VA and settled at the Mouth of Wilson Creek on the New River in Giles
Co., and later on Clinch River in Scott
Co. Here on Clinch River, seven miles above
Clinchport, at a place now called Hill, VA, J. M. Hill, Sr., was born June
James M. Hill, Sr.,
married Elizabeth, a daughter of John and Vina Jones of Powell Valley,
Wise Co., VA. He first settled in Powell Valley at a place called Buffalo
Gap, later moved to Powell River at a
place called Laurel Grove and here in the
wilderness he cleared land and built a log house where he reared his family.
He served in the Confederate Army and was mostly located around White Sulphur
WV. At the birth of his son, Dr. J. M. Hill,
of Wise, VA, he was given a five day furlough and came home in 1863, returning
after the five days had expired.
J. M. Hill, Sr.,
died May 21, 1908 at the age of 82 years, 11 months and 19 days. Buried
at the Wiley Gardner Cemetery near the old home place. His wife Elizabeth
was born April 14, 1827, died September 23, 1894. Buried alongside of her
husband in the Wiley Gardner Cemetery.
To this union
were born two daughters and seven sons.
Five sons and both daughters grew to maturity.
Wiley Gardner did
not live at this place himself, but members of his family have. Emory Gardner,
the present owner is a grandson of Wiley Gardner by his son, Franklin Pierce
Gardner. William W. Gardner, Grantor to Emory Gardner, was a son
of Wiley Gardner and was born July 15, 1867, died February 5, 1936. He
was married to Nancy Jane, a daughter of John and Sealey Wheatley,
February 25, 1897.
Sources of Information: Dr. J. M. Hill of
Wise, VA; B. F. Gardner and Court Records.
Wiley Gardner House
Location: 20 yards from the east bank of Powell
River, opposite the Emory Gardner place and 500 yards north of the Laurel
Grove Baptist Church on road leading up Powell River.
Owners: Wiley Gardner bought this land before
the formation of Wise County and at his death it went to his heirs and
the land now belongs to his son,
Description: The Wiley Gardner house was a
hewn log building about 18 x 20 feet with an "L" of two rooms used for
a kitchen and dining room. This "L" was built on the east side. The L has
a mud daubed stone chimney on which the family cooking was done. The front
part had a stone chimney on the south end.
A long porch ran across the west side of
the front part. The house was chinked and daubed with mud and covered with
a clapboard roof. The sills and plates on the north side of the house extended
out about eight feet beyond the house. These were probably left extended
with the intention of building an extra room, but were never built. The
house was floored with hand sawed planks. Like many of the earlier log
cabins it had an attic that was used as sleeping quarters, which was reached
by means of a ladder leading up to an outside scuttle hole in the gabled
ends. This house has been torn down for several years.
Historical Significance: Wiley Gardner was
born in Hawkins Co., TN, June 7, 1827, died April 14, 1895. He was married
to Loucinda, a daughter of John Jones, who was born March 13, 1833 and
died December 28, 1901.
They lived, reared
their family and died at the old home place on Powell River and both are
buried in the Wiley Gardner Cemetery on Powell River. Wiley Gardner was
a Confederate soldier and was transferred from Camp Jackson to Company
H, 50 Virginia Volunteers July 25, 1861.
Mrs. Gardner had
an old grandfather clock and in 1873 Henry C. Jones was teaching school
at the present site of the Laurel Grove Baptist Church and he would often
send out to Aunt Cinda's to see what time it was. One day he sent Dr. J.
M. Hill who was at that time about ten years old and he came running
back and told the teacher that Aunt Cinda
wanted him to come out there and kill a rattlesnake that had crawled into
the house. The schoolmaster, upon his arrival at the house, found a rattler
had crawled down between the sills and was comfortably located and singing
happily, if not warningly. Mr. Jones got an axe
and hacked down between the sills, cutting
the snakes head off. Getting two chips he carried the head into the yard
and built a fire and burned it, fearing that some barefoot lad might step
on the deadly fangs and be poisoned.
Sources of Information: Frank Gardner, Dr.
J. M. Hill and Court Records.
Wiley Gardner Mill
Location: On east bank of Powell River, just
north of the present Fitzhugh Gardner home on road leading from Norton
up Powell River.
Owners: Wiley Gardner bought this land before
the County of Wise was formed. At his death it went to his heirs and is
still in the possession of his son, Frank.
Description: The mill was in a hewn log building
about sixteen feet square. Clapboard roof. One story with a loft or attic.
The first floor was dirt and the floor of the attic room was puncheons.
The attic extended out over the forebay and the mill burros and the hopper
were on this second floor. The corn was
fed into the hopper on the second floor and
the ground grain came out into the meal box on the first floor. The water
was carried from about two or three hundred yards up stream by a sluice
way made of hollowed yellow poplar logs, placed end to end. The water was
carried into the "forebay" at the front of the mill. The forebay was a
box about eight feet wide, seven feet deep and ten feet long. After this
filled with water from the sluice troughs, a gate in the forebay was opened
letting the water out onto the undershot (Tub) wheel, and started the mechanism
to work. The word "forebay" derived from the fact that the water box was
before the wheel and when filled with water made a miniature pond or bay,
thus the name "forebay". This mill ran several years after the Civil War.
It has long since been torn away.
The sluice way of
all these old water mills were called "Mill Races". In the following poem
by Dr. J. M. Hill of Wise, he mentions this
old mill, the J. M. Hill, Sr., house as well as Powell River.
by J. M. Hill
Rough was the floor where I learned to walk,
Sacred, the Mother who taught me to talk,
In the green meadow wheel I used to dwell,
Among the apple trees I loved so well.
The happy days passed over my head,
Where I was born, nurtured and fed.
Those days I never more shall see,
Swift passenger I am to eternity.
That grand little river at the foot of the
Raced down the channel of that old, old mill.
Over rocky bed, under ivy, birch and pine.
Near that paternal home of mine.
The age of man is but a rapid day,
Yet, here on earth he'd like to stay;
But life as a frail bark on the ocean wide;
Time travelers we are to the other side.
In every plant, and shrub, and tree,
There wisdom's handy work you see,
On distant planet, or golden sands,
There the everlasting designer stands.
Source of Information: Dr. J. M. Hill, Frank
Gardner and Court Records.