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A History of The Middle
New River Settlements
and Contiguous Territory.

By David E. Johnston (1906).


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Appendix C.   Biographical.
Bailey - Bowens

The Bailey Family

Richard Bailey the elder, was a soldier in the American  Army during    the War of the Revolution, and his residence was on the Black Water, in that portion of Bedford County, Virginia, which subsequently became a part of Franklin County.    Richard Bailey married Miss Annie Belcher, and their family consisted of ten children, eight sons and two daughters.  The sons were John, James, Eli, Micajah, Archibald, Reuben, Richard, and Henry.  Mr. Bailey came with his family to the Beaver Pond Spring in the year of 1780, and together with John G. Davidson, built the block-house or fort near that spring which was afterwards known as the "Davidson-Bailey Fort."  Aside from Mr. Davidson and his family, Mr. Bailey's neighbors were Captain James Moore, in Abb's Valley, some ten miles away;  Mitchell Clay, on the Bluestone at the Clover Bottom, about twelve miles away;  Joshua Day, at the mouth of Laurel Fork of Wolf Creek, about fifteen miles away;  Hickman Compton, on Clear Fork of Wolf Creek, eight miles away, and Gideon Wright, at the head of the South Fork of Bluestone, twelve miles away.  The sons of Richard Bailey, especially the elder ones, were great Indian scouts and fighters, and were splendid specimens of physical strength and manhood and of great personal courage.

John Bailey, the eldest son, married Nancy Davidson, the daughter of John G. Davidson, and in 1789, he built a log house on the south side of Bowyer's Branch, on the farm now owned by Thompson Calfee--this building is still standing at this writing--and in which Mr. Jonathan Bailey, their oldest son, was born in 1790, and when he was but four days old an Indian incursion into the neighborhood caused Mr. Bailey to take his wife and child on horseback to the fort at the Beaver Pond.

Henry Bailey, the youngest son of Richard the elder, married a Miss Peters, daughter of John Peters, of New river.  Among the sons of Henry were John P., Elijah, Colonel James M., Philip P., and Major William R. Bailey.  John P. Bailey went to Texas in the forties.  Elijah was quite a prominent citizen in his day, having been a member of the House of Delegates of Virginia from the Counties of Giles and Mercer, and was afterward Sheriff of Mercer County and long a Justice of the Peace of said county.  Colonel James M. also represented Mercer County in the House of Delegates, and was a Colonel of Militia;  and William R. was likewise a Major in the Mercer Militia.

Nancy, one of the daughters of Henry, married Charles W. Calfee, who was long the Clerk of the Mercer County Court.  Elizabeth first married William Ferguson and subsequently the Rev. Carroll Clark.  Jane married Wilson D. Calfee, and Polly first married James Bailey, and after his death, married John Bailey;  she was a woman of strong good sense and intellect.

From the elder Richard Bailey, the first settler, descended all the numerous families by that name, now scattered over several of the counties of West Virginia, particularly Mercer, McDowell, Wyoming, and Logan, and in Tazewell County, Virginia.

Robert H. Bailey, a great grandson of the elder Richard, has been prominent in county affairs.  Estill Bailey, another great grandson, is now the Clerk of the County Court of Mercer County.  Many of this family are prominent citizens of adjacent counties;  among them may be mentioned Theodore F. Bailey, of Wyoming.    Nearly all who bore that name, during our great civil strife, were gallant and brave soldiers.

The Bane Family of New River Valley.

This family is of Scottish origin.  The founder thereof in America--at least of those of the name who came across the Alleghanies--was James Bane, who came, in 1688, to New Castle, Delaware.  He had left his country because of political ostracism, and sought shelter in the land soon destined to be free.  He bought valuable lands of William Penn in what was then, or had been, Pennsylvania.

James,one of the descendants of the first named James, came into the Virginia Valley about 1748, and there married, in 1751, Rebecca McDonald, a granddaughter of Bryan and Mary Combs McDonald, of New Castle, Delaware.  It would seem most probable--as some of the McDonalds were settled between 1738 and 1744 in Beverly's Manor, near to where the present city of Staunton, Virginia, is situated--that he married his wife, Rebecca, in that neighborhood, and thence removed to the Roanoke section near where Salem now stands, about 1763, where he remained until a flood in the Roanoke River drove him to and beyond the summit of the Alleghanies, into what is now Montgomery County.    He came, probably, about 1775--at any rate he had frequently to take shelter from the Indians in Barger's Fort, on Tom's Creek.  His son, James, married Bettie, the daughter of John Haven, of Plum Creek, in Montgomery, about 1776, and from thence he removed to Walker's Creek in 1793.  He had a large family of children, viz: 12;    Mary married John Henderson, Howard married Miss Hickman, and a daughter of Howard married Colonel Erastus G. Harman, of Bluestone;  Colonel James married Mary Henderson December 31st, 1801;  Annie married .......Wilson, Sara married John Carr, Rebecca married .......Burke, John married Mary Chapman, Jesse married Jane Carr, Edward and Joseph died unmarried, Elizabeth married William Carr, William married Sallie Snidow.

Colonel James Bane and his wife, Mary Henderson Bane, had the following children:  Sallie, who never married;  Elizabeth married Tobias Miller;    Maria married Madison Allen, John H. married Nancy Shannon, Jane S. married John Crockett Graham, William married Jane Grayson, Nancy married Thomas Jefferson Higginbotham, and Samuel married Lucy B. Baker.  A daughter of William Bane married John D. Snidow, and Mr. William Bane Snidow, a prominent lawyer of Pearisburg, Virginia, is their son.  All of this family of Banes, who were in the war 1861-5, were good soldiers;  a number of them were killed and wounded.  Joseph Edward Bane was killed in the first battle of Manassas, and Major John T. Bane was a distinguished soldier in Hood's Texas Brigade.  Of this family have come some of the very best citizens of Giles and surrounding counties.    Donald Bane succeeded Malcolm III as King of Scotland between the years 1093-1153.

The Belcher Family.

Isham Belcher married a Miss Hodges, in Franklin County, Virginia, and came  to what is now Mercer County, then Wythe, in 1796, and settled on what is known as the Waldron Farm, about two miles Southeast of the present city of Bluefield.  He was a nephew of Phoebe Clay, the wife of Mitchell Clay, the elder. Isham Belcher and wife had a family of thirteen children, eleven sons and two daughters;  the sons were    Obediah, Isham, Jesse, Asa, Henry D., John, Micajah, Jonathan, Moses, James, and Robert D.  From Isham Belcher, the elder, descended all the people of that name scattered over a number of the counties of Southern West Virginia.  Captain George W. Belcher, a grandson of the elder Isham, Alexander Belcher and many of that name and blood were bold, courageous Confederate soldiers in our Civil War.

The Family of Black, of Montgomery.

The Rev. Dr. Samuel Black, a minister in the Presbyterian Church--of Scotch extraction--was born in 1700;  educated in Edinburg, Scotland, and licensed to preach at Glasgow;  came to America in 1735, and first located at and had charge of the church in Brandywine Manor in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Later he removed to Albemarle County, Virginia, where he was Pastor of Joy and Mountain Plains  Churches for the remainder of his long and useful life.

His sons, John and William, came across the Alleghanies and settled nearby where the town of Blacksburg, in Montgomery County, is now situated.  The year of their coming seems not definitely known, but it was during the border Indian wars.    John had married Miss Jane Alexander, who, with an infant son, he brought with him into the wilderness, where with the aid of a servant he erected a dwelling house which was shortly thereafter burned by the Indians, he and his family escaping to the woods and finally to Augusta, where he left his family until he could erect another dwelling, which he turned into a fort for protection against the Savages.  He served in the American Army during our War for Independence, under General William Campbell, and was with him at the time of the treaty with the Indians, at Long Island, Tennessee.   Two of his sons were in the War of 1812, and one of them, Matthew, died in the service.  Five of his sons went to the state of Ohio, where their descendants now live.  His daughter, Susan, who married Stephen McDonald, went to Missouri;   Mary, another daughter, married Walter Crockett, and they went to the Pacific coast;  while the son, Alexander, remained at Blacksburg.  John Black lived to the age of ninety-four years;   his wife, Jane Alexander, was of the family of that name, some of whom settled in the County of Monroe.

William Black gave the land on which the town of Blacksburg, Virginia, now stands, and which was incorporated by the General Assembly of Virginia, in the year of 1798.  By this act George Rutledge, John Black, James P. Preston, Edward Rutledge, William Black and John Preston were made trustees.  William Black removed to the County of Albemarle in the year of 1800.

The Barns Family.

Robert Barnes, born in Ireland in 1765, first settled in Maryland, removed to Rockbridge County, Virginia, and from there to the Clinch River section, now in Tazewell County, Virginia.  He married Grace Brown, and they had two sons:    William Barnes, born 1790, and John Barnes, born 1793.  William Barnes married Levicie Ward.  John Barnes married Lilly Heldieth as is first wife, and as his second Eliza Allen.

The names of the children of William Barnes are as follows:  Robert, married Ella Gibson;  Clinton, married Sarah Gillespie;  Oscar F., married Mary Gillespie;  John, married Margaret Smith;  Mary, married William T. Moore;    Nancy, married James Harrison;  Amanda, married Moses Higginbotham;    Rebecca, died unmarried;  Sallie W., married Captain D. B. Baldwin;    Eliza, married A. J. Copenhaver.

John Barnes had one son, William, who died unmarried, in the Confederate Army.

John Ward, who married Nancy Bowen, was the father of Levicie, who married William Barnes;  and the children of the said John Ward and Nancy Bowen are as follows:  Levicie, married William Barnes;  Jane, married Robert Gillespie;    Rebecca, married William Crawford;  Lilly, married John Hill;   Nancy, married Mr. Hargrave;  Henry, married Sallie Wilson;  Reece, married Levicie Richardson;  Rufus, married Elizabeth Wilson;  David and John, unmarried.

The Bowens, of Tazewell.

This family is of Welch extraction,  and the immediate ancestors of those that came hither were, long prior to the American Revolution, located and settled about Fredericktown, in western Maryland.  Restive in disposition and fond of adventure, like all of their blood, they sought, fairly early after the first white settlements were made in the Valley of Virginia, to look for homes in that direction.    How early, or the exact date, that Reece Bowen, the progenitor of the Tazewell family of that name, came in to the Virginia Valley from his western Maryland home, cannot be named with certainty;  doubtless he came as early as 1765, for it is known that for a few years prior to 1772, when he located at Maiden Spring, he was living on the Roanoke River, close by where the city of Roanoke is now situated, then in Augusta County, he married Miss Louisa Smith, who proved to him not only a loving and faithful wife, but a great helpmeet in his border life.  She was evidently a woman of more than ordinary intelligence and cultivation for one of her day and opportunity.  She was a small, neat and trim woman, weighing only about one hundred pounds, while her husband was a giant in size and strength.  It is told as a fact that she could step into her husband's hand and that he could stand and extend his arm, holding her at right angle to his body.

Prize fighting was quite common in the early days of the settlements, by which men tested their manhood and prowess.  The man who could demolish all who chose to undertake him was the champion, and wore the belt until some man flogged him, and then he had to surrender it.  At some period after Reece Bowen had settled on the Roanoke, and after the first child came into the home, Mrs. Bowen desiring to pay a visit to her people in the Valley, she and her babe and husband set out on horse-back along the narrow bridle way that then led through the valley, and on the way they met a man clad in the usual garb of the day--that is , buck-skin trousers, moccasins, and hunting shirt, or wampus.  The stranger inquired of Mr. Bowen his name, which he gave him;    proposed a fight for the belt.  Bowen tried to beg off, stating that he was taking his wife and child, the latter then in his arms, to her people.  The man would take no excuse;  finally Mrs. Bowen said to her husband;  "Reece, give me the child and get down and slap that man's jaws."  Mr. Bowen alighted from his horse, took the man by the lapel of his hunting shirt, gave him a few quick, heavy jerks, when the man called out to let him go, he had enough.

It is also related of Mr. Bowen, that in a later prize fight, at Maiden Spring, with a celebrated prize fighter who had, with his seconds, come from South Carolina to fight Bowen, and when he reached Bowen's home and made known to him his business, he, Mr. Bowen, did what he could in an honorable way to excuse himself from engaging in a fight;  but the man was persistent and Bowen concluded to accommodate him and sent for his seconds--a Mr. Smith and a Mr. Clendenin.  The fight took place and the gentleman from South Carolina came off second best.

Just when Reece Bowen first saw the territory of what is now Tazewell County cannot be definitely stated.  Whether he was one of the large hunting party organized of men from the Virginia Valley, North Carolina and New River, which rendezvoused at Ingles' Ferry in June, 1769, and hunted on the waters of the Holstein, Powell's River, Clinch, and in Kentucky, is not known;  his name does not appear among the number, but the writer, "Haywood's Civil and Political History of Tennessee,"  does not profess to give all the names of the party.    Nevertheless it is highly probable that Bowen was along, or he may have gone out with the party the next year, or he may have met with the Witten's, and others, on their way out in 1771, and joined them.  He seems not to have made his settlement at Maiden Spring until the year of 1772.  He went with Captain William Russell's company to the battle of Point Pleasant, in 1774, leaving home in August of that year, and leaving Daniel Boone in command of that part of the frontier.  As already stated in this volume, Boone had been forced to give up his journey to Kentucky in September, 1773, on account of the breaking out of the Indian War, and had spent the winter of 1773-4 in the neighborhood of Captain William Russell, near Castleswoods.

Captain Russell's company belonged to Colonel William Christian's Fincastle Regiment, the greater part of which did not participate in the battle of Point Pleasant, being in the rear in charge of the pack horses carrying provisions for the army;    but Shelby's and Russell's companies went forward with the main body and took an active part in the conflict.  Moses Bowen, a relative of Reece, was with Russell's company, but died on the journey, from smallpox.

From 1774 to 1781, when Reece Bowen marched away to the battle of King's Mountain, the border on and along the Clinch was harassed by bands of marauding Indians, and in many of the skirmishes and troubles Reece Bowen took a hand.  During the period from the date of Bowen's settlement at Maiden Spring until his death, to procure salt, iron, and other necessary materials he had to travel across the mountains to Salisbury, North Carolina, carrying them on a packhorse, and would be absent for weeks, leaving his wife and children alone.  His trips, however, were always made in winter, when there was no danger from the Indians.  He left rifle guns and bear dogs at home, and with these his wife felt safe from danger, for she was a good shot with a rifle, often exceeding the men in ordinary rifle practice.  Mr. Bowen had selected a lovely country for his home, and around and adjacent thereto, prior to the fall of 1780, had surveyed and secured several thousand acres of that valuable land, of which his descendants today hold about twelve square miles.

When it was known that Lord Cornwallis' Army was marching northward through the Carolinas, and that Colonel Ferguson, who commanded the left wing of his Army, had sent a threat to the "Over Mountain Men" that if they did not cross the mountains and take the oath of allegiance to the King, that he would cross over and destroy with fire and sword, Evan Shelby, John Sevier, and William Campbell determined to checkmate Colonel Ferguson by crossing the mountains and destroying him and his army.    Colonel Campbell commanded the Washington County Military Force, and William Bowen a company that belonged to Campbell's Command, though a part of his company lived on the Montgomery County side of the line.  In this company Reece Bowen was a First Lieutenant, his son John a Private, and James Moore a Junior Lieutenant.  When the order came for Bowen's company to join the  regiment it found its Captain, William Bowen, sick of a fever, and this situation devolved the command of the company upon Lieutenant Reece Bowen, who led it into the battle of  King's Mountain, and there, together with several of his men, was killed and buried on the field.  His remains were never removed, for the reason that when opportunity was offered for their removal the spot in which he was buried could not be identified.  Campbell's Regiment lost in this battle 35 killed and wounded;  among the killed, other than Lieutenant Reece Bowen, were Captain William Edmondson, Robert Edmondson, Andrew Edmondson, and Henry Henninger, and among the wounded, Charles Kilgore and John Peery, the two latter and Henninger from the Upper Clinch Waters.

Reece Bowen has in Tazewell County many highly respected, prominent and influential descendants, among them Mr. Reece Bowen, Colonel Thomas P. Bowen and Captain Henry Bowen, all brave and distinguished Confederate Soldiers;  the latter, Captain Henry, being frequently honored by his people as a  member of the Legislature of Virginia, and a Representative in Congress.  The present Mr. Reece Bowen married Miss Mary Crockett, of Wythe;  Colonel Thomas P., Miss Augusta Stuart, of Greenbrier, and Captain Henry, Miss Louisa Gillespie, of Tazewell.



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