JOHN SCALF SR.
Previous writings by Henry P. Scalf relate some of the oral folklore in the line
of John Scalf Sr. Although folklore would not be considered reliable in
documenting ones family, it does play an important part in providing clues with
which to find documentation. Had we no folklore in the family, we most likely
would have a much more difficult time finding names in our family lines.
We must remember, however, that through the generations much can be lost in the translation of family folklore. The ancestral grandfather that migrated to this country can sometimes become the great great or great-grandfather with the passing of time and the telling and re-telling of the legends through the various generations. Time also has a way of changing the stories as they are passed from one generation to the next.
Documentation is required to prove one’s lineage but a genealogy with family legend does hold much more interest to the reader than merely a long line of names. Whether the legend is accurate or not, it certainly adds interest to the long lines of names as we read through searching for our own family line. It has been suggested that there is no need to repeat family legends for they have no bearing on proving the lineage.
I see no reason to avoid family legends as long as we realize it is legend and that it does not prove the lineage. In some instances, family legend can and has been proven. I also respect the wishes of those who do not wish to have their family names exposed or the legends in their families. For this reason, some family legends will be referred to only as “another family legend.” Names, legends, and/or lineages will not be posted when specifically requested not to do so.
Please inform me by email if you do not wish to have your information posted. Otherwise, I will assume that I have your permission. My email address is posted on the homepage of this website. In the event my address should not be listed, please inform me via the Webmaster.
Although one may consider that family history should be public property, this is also a matter of opinion. Regardless of opinion on this matter, I have chosen not to break the confidence of folks who have placed trust in me concerning their family legends by repeating them when asked not to, nor will I post one’s lineage if asked not to. Where research on the line has been done by me, my research will be posted. Where research has been done and submitted to me by a descendant with the request that it not be published, this request will be honored.
The feelings of others concerning these matters are of much more importance than making this story more interesting. Research can produce most of what someone deems necessary to document a family because the records are a matter of public property; therefore, I see no need to damage a relationship by intentionally doing what I am asked not to do. If you cannot find your family line in the database when it is posted, it is either due to this reason, or I have no knowledge of the line. Please email me and I will be glad to help you in any way that I can to find this line.
One of the first legends related to me by my dad was that of a Scalf ancestor
who had an Indian wife. According to the story passed to him, this man became
very quarrelsome and grumpy when he did not get his breakfast right away. His
wife would have to chop the wood in order to have a fire to cook with, among
other chores around the farm before she could even begin to cook breakfast.
Apparently, her husband was a bit on the lazy side.
She was a quite, gentle, somber-minded woman who spoke very little. However, on one of these occasions when breakfast was not awaiting her husband he began his routine ritual of swearing and cursing her. She did not return a word and in fact, did nothing concerning the meal. When her husband realized his cursing and swearing were useless, as she continued ignore him, he proceeded to chop the wood for the fire to cook his breakfast. He continued his cursing and swearing at her all the time he was chopping wood. This was ultimately a mistake on his part.
Apparently, his wife was not feeling like chopping wood, cooking breakfast, or any of the other normal daily chores of farm life that she had so faithfully attended over the years. When he had finished chopping the wood he buried the axe in the chop block (the custom on the farm) and bent over to gather his load of wood. Her husband was still cursing and paying no attention to her. Before he could gather the wood and stand up, this quiet, gentle little woman came from behind him, grabbed the axe, and struck him with the sharp edge in the back of his head.
The cursing and swearing stopped that day among other things. It is amazing what reaction one action can produce. In spite of the split in the back of his head this man lived. He lived to get up, chop wood everyday, and attend to many of the farm chores that his quiet, obedient, loving little wife had been taking care of for many years. This leaves little doubt that actions can and do speak much louder than words.
Many things changed that day for this family and her husband began to work around the farm, as he never had before. The swearing and cursing stopped and he became very polite in asking for what he wanted. He most likely formed a relationship with God that day as well. I’m sure he probably did some praying since doctors were many miles away and a person could bleed to death before the doctor arrived.
Maybe his wife took pity on him and used her native knowledge of the herbs to stop the bleeding and promote healing. Most likely, she sewed up the cut herself with homemade stitches. Regardless of how the man’s life was saved the lives of this family changed. Whether this is a true story or not, I have no way of knowing.
When I asked my dad who this family was he only knew that it was a story passed down in the family. No names were mentioned or could be recalled. There was no recollection of the family line involved in this legend but he was certain it was from his Scalf family and not his maternal side of the family.
When I became involved in the genealogy I thought of this story and naturally, since the legend also existed that my gg-grandmother married my gg-grandfather to avoid the “Trail of Tears” I thought this might have been her. It was logical to me to assume the legend may actually have been my own gg-grandmother since I am a very quiet person myself. <Smile> There has been no indication from the records or “hearsay” that my gg-grandfather, Berryman Scalf, was lazy. Neither have I found any records that indicate that my gg-grandmother was of native heritage. I have not dismissed this search though and do not intend to do so.
No doubt, somewhere in one of the lines of the Scalf family this event had taken place. Whether the woman was of native ancestry or whether she was only thought to have been, something similar to this had happened and made its impression on the family so much that the story was carried on. The details may have gotten a bit turned around and possibly even less dramatic than what was translated through time but; nevertheless, I believe something similar had happened to someone in the Scalf family.
I have received repeated requests to help someone find their native ancestry in this family and there are many legends existing in the Scalf family of native ancestry so this could have happened in any one of the Scalf lines. Without names to relate to this legend, we will probably never know which family this story comes from.
Another legend also related to me by my dad was the fact that the Scalf name originated in Germany and at one time was much longer than the simple spelling of Scalf today. However, he was also told that it came from England. He had no idea where it actually came from but often thought it was possibly native due to the many legends in the family of native ancestry. I have not been able to connect this name to Germany before the1900s, but records indicate there were probably Irish and English roots with very probable native connections.
One of the legends told in my family line is that of the Scalf men being so skilled in the art of woodwork. This, I have found to be more accurate than anything else and more documental. Many of the Scalf men in my direct line were carpenters and very skilled in many various types of woodworking. My gg-grandfather was a well-known Wheelwright in the area of Russell and Scott County, Virginia during early and middle 1800s. It has been said that he made perfectly rounded wagon wheels and he was highly recommended to those needing wagon wheels replaced. Most of his sons were noted for their various carpentry works.
One son was noted as being “the best around” at making perfectly balanced wheat cradles. Another son was noted for his ability in making cabinets and furniture and yet, another son was noted for his hand carving of a stair railing that stands in the home he built for his family in 1860. This home is listed as a landmark, is now 142 years old, and is presently occupied.
Another legend related by the wife of a descendant of one of our Kentucky relatives of the John Sr. line states that her husband’s ancestor received ponies in trade for his daughter’s hand in marriage because she was Indian. Such are the legends among the different lines of our Scalf family.
These types of legends are very difficult to trace. It is much easier to trace the legend of carpentry than Indian ancestry. During the days of John Sr. and his children, natives were treated much like slaves and many were sold into slavery in the early colonial times. Most natives tried to hide their ancestry and did a very good job of it as one will find when trying to trace it.
The line of John Scalf Sr. abounds with legends. Many of them have come from various lines of the family since I began this search. Many of them indicate some solid foundation and again, some may be considered a little “far-fetched” but one never knows just how accurate they may be. For the most part, I believe there is a certain amount of truth to all legends and I do not regard any family legend as simply “tales of the old folks.” I have found that somewhere between the legend and the records most often lie the facts. So, if you have submitted family legends, please rest assured you are in a file of family legends and these are used to cross-reference other family legends I have received.
These are used as guideposts in finding the names of the family lines and support of the legend as fact if possible. These are not disregarded! These legends have helped with this research in compiling names. It is of importance that you do not think that some little tidbit of information is not of value in researching your family. It may seem worthless at one point only to find out later it was the most valuable piece of information one has to tie a family to its proper ancestor. Never disregard anything or throw it out until it has been ruled out as no possibility whatsoever.
Many times, I have worked with someone on a family line to find out after years of trying to make a link that they were holding the one piece of information because they thought it was not significant or had completely forgotten about it and/or filed it in file #13. Many bits and pieces of information are used to tie names together where the records are not clear. The little things on a record are very, very important, such as a doctor’s name or a clerk that may have signed a record. The dates and/or odd names on the records can sometimes play an important role in making connections or at least in determining the next area of research.
There are so many things involved with this type of research that this chapter could be written on this subject alone. I am guilty of some silly things myself when I first started this research. Maybe you have or are doing the same things. If you are, then DON’T do it again.
In the beginning of this research, names were the only valuable piece of information I thought necessary in finding my heritage. Diligently, I searched every index of any book for Scalf. When the page number with the name was found, a copy of that page was made or the information was written down from it. Somewhere along the way, I began to read the chapter of where that name was found. Many, many times, this helped in putting the story together and giving some direction in where to look next because valuable information existed in the chapter I had missed. This was a valuable learning experience and proved in many instances to lead me in the right direction.
I began to read more and more of places, events, and the folks involved and not just Scalf. When I realized the mistake I had made, I spent a lot of time back-tracking the same things I had already tracked (I thought) before. Now, nothing is thrown away that is similar to the story. <Smile> There are tons of paper in my computer room to prove it and they do not necessarily have a Scalf name on them, but they do hold an event, a date, or names of others involved with my family.
This is often one reason that many new researchers give up. There is a good deal of reading, cross-referencing and studying involved that many folks to not have the patience or the time to do. There is nothing wrong with that, but in some cases it is required to find the family you may be looking for so please, do not throw anything away until it is completely ruled out.
Henry P. Scalf and Elmer Scalf, (previous writers of the history of our family) along with Mrs. Elsie Payne Archer have gathered a great deal of information for us to follow and have been very instrumental as guides in our own search. I do not always agree with them on some points but I have learned during my search to admire their willingness to undertake such a task for it is most definitely a horrendous task as most who have taken up this hobby have found.
Although Mrs. Archer lived a good distance from where our ancestors passed through, she was able to obtain a good deal of the records to study. Not only is it necessary to see the original records, but it is also of great value to be able to decipher these records and determine in which direction one might need to search. Mrs. Archer was very talented at this and this is reflected throughout the book, Chronicles of the Scalf Family. This requires a good deal of studying these old documents.
Not to take away any credit from Henry P. Scalf, author of the book, for Henry had an equally difficult task in researching his Kentucky relatives as well. He also had the task of putting the book together and that certainly is no “walk in the park” as I can relate from experience.
According to copies of correspondence from Mrs. Archer, it is obvious that she did a great deal of the research on the other lines of the family. Mrs. Archer was a descendant of the line of Ira Scalf and Rosannah Gibson Scalf through their daughter, Jane Scalf Phllips, wife of Benjamin. She was an avid Scalf researcher and was extremely interested in finding not only her Scalf roots but also the history of the Scalf family. Unfortunately, she is no longer with us but the efforts of her, Henry and Elmer Scalf to find the information that has helped so many of us is greatly appreciated by this writer.
No doubt, these folks made mistakes but one cannot tackle something of this magnitude without making mistakes. With the limited access these people had to the records, they did a tremendous job in opening the paths for us to follow. We will all make mistakes and though not intentional, they will surely happen. However, the inaccuracies should inspire us to keep searching. Please remember when you find my mistakes that although they are not intentional, they will hopefully inspire you to correct them.
|Veteran or Imposter?|
This chapter will cover as much as is possible with the records of the life and
times of John Scalf Sr., son of Lewis Scalf (1745-1839) and his first wife who
is still a mystery to us. While reading the previous writings concerning John
Sr., I found myself experiencing mixed emotions about this man. Many times I
asked myself the question, was he really an imposter as he was accused? Was his
children taken away because he was shiftless, lazy and would not provide for his
family or was it due to some type of disability John acquired from his war
service? It would seem logical on the one hand that he may have been guilty of
these things, due to the records in North Carolina of his involvement in the
theft of a hog and the fact that a John Scalf was detained in the Prestonburg,
Kentucky jail for some unknown reason.
However, after reading the complete pension file concerning his war record among other things, I find it difficult to believe that a man who was so determined to restore his character and honor could be guilty of being lazy and shiftless. In consequence of these feelings, I made a trip back to Russell County, Virginia to search for something that might give some clues as to what actually took place in Russell County, Virginia and in the life of John Scalf Sr. from 1820 to 1837.
I began to notice little things I had not noticed before and in searching around for other information that might shed some light on the time period, I began to map and cross-reference bits and pieces of the information of this man’s life. Not that I had not already done this, but only with names and family relationships in mind. I had not previously wondered if something might have caused John to do the things he was accused of. It was not until I had done this, did some things begin to come into focus.
It is interesting to note that during the colonial days of our history and up until near the 1980s (though not as much) many illnesses were viewed in a very different aspect than today. Folks had a tendency (some still do) to fear what they do not understand and these folks did not understand some types of illnesses and/or deformities. For instance, if someone had an illness such as seizures, they were considered idiotic and insane during colonial times. This continued up through the 1900 census for I have found folks listed this way and I knew of their medical problems. They knew no other name to place on these problems due to muscle reactions brought on by some types of seizures. Seizures have also been related to accusations of witchery.
Common illnesses that we have come to understand now were once viewed in a different light. A seizure could have been mistaken as “being possessed.” Many stigmas were placed on folks that were perfectly fine other than the illness they suffered from. Such was the case of folks that were crippled. If a person had a deformity strangers might view them as poor, worthless and even idiotic. People shunned other people who were not “normal” in the aspect of what normal meant to them at the time. Downs Syndrome was viewed as insanity during this time and the person avoided the person afflicted at all costs because some thought, “evil spirits” caused this.
This may have contributed in part to how John Sr. was treated as he moved around among strangers. It is my opinion that John Scalf Sr. possibly had a deformity of his leg due to the wounds received in the Revolutionary War. To folks he was familiar with, this would have been no problem as they would have been aware of what happened to him and knew that he had not been born this way. This was of great importance at this time.
If someone was born with an infirmity, they were sometimes not accepted as “normal” and no matter what the deformity was, it was avoided because it was believed by many to have been caused by some type of disobedience to God or some type of “curse.” Strangers quite possibly may have shunned him and treated him differently, which in turn, caused John to be on the defensive all the time. This may be why John appears to have been in trouble often. This, we cannot know and this is only speculation on my part based on reading different types of medical history and the pension file of John Sr. It is also worth noting here that thyroid problems can cause different types of actions.
I have been informed that thyroid disease appears to be consistent in the Scalf family. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can be an underlying cause of mood swings, “temper tantrums” and hyperactivity (“swinging from the ceiling” so to speak). Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) can be related to not feeling like doing anything at all and barely able to move about due to a lack of energy. I have witnessed both of these in full operation as I have a son that has hyperthyroidism and a daughter with hypothyroidism.
Try taking a trip with these two folks. One was hot and one was cold, no matter what the temperature was. It was a constant; “turn the heat off” “turn the heat on.” Sweat is dripping from the face of one and the other was huddled in an overcoat in the middle of summer. “Let’s go do something,” “let’s stay inside.” One wanted one thing and one wanted another. They were totally opposite in how they felt. For me, it was a constant state of hot or cold just being with them and I had no thyroid problems.
For a very long time, I had no idea how two people of the same blood could be so totally different and obnoxious. A simple trip to the store was a nightmare with these two. Now, I understand these symptoms. One had an overabundance of energy, which came in spurts, and one had none whatsoever.
My son was subject to have what the doctor referred to as “thyroid dumps.” When this happened, he could get mad at the drop of a hat over nothing and when he did, he said exactly what he thought no matter where or to whom and had an uncontrollable temper. At other times, when this was not happening he would be a totally different person. This was very frustrating to say the least.
On the other hand, my daughter appeared to be lazy and seemed to want to sleep continuously. My son rarely slept and when he did it was in short intervals such as two hours at a time. My daughter’s condition reached the point where she could not wake up to help her own daughter get ready for school. It was not until this, that she found out what was wrong. She still has problems with this but not to this extent. Most people thought she was just “lazy” until this was discovered. I had chalked it up to trying to do too much at once since she was married, in college, overloaded with classes, and trying to do all the extra curricular activities of college as well as be a wife and mother. Her body was overloaded and could simply not keep up.
Looking back on this, I don’t know how she managed to stay on her feet at all with this thyroid problem untreated. She could have used some of my son’s hyperthyroidism at this time. He couldn’t slow down and she couldn’t get any speed so you can imagine what my life was like with these two. She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in the semester prior to her last semester of college and he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism one year later.
One disease is just as debilitating in its way as the other when left untreated. There is more compatibility now that we know what the problem is. They almost appear to be related now. Of course, they are grown now and understand each other’s problem. I have received letters from various lines of the family stating that there are thyroid problems in their families. I find almost no thyroid problems in my maternal line, nor are there any in my children’s paternal lines.
I suspect that our Scalf ancestors may have had one or the other, if not both, of these diseases but of course, I cannot say that for a fact and it would be difficult to even speculate based on the meager medical records we have. This is also not limited to the line of John Sr. I have spoken to descendants of the brothers of John Sr. who have stated there are thyroid problems in their lines as well, so this possibly reaches farther back.
|The Early Years|
When the Revolutionary War began, mothers and wives watched as husbands and sons
went off to fight for their country and its newly found freedom. These hardy
pioneer women were left alone to fend for themselves and some with very small
children. In the home of Lewis Scalf, the children had no mother for she had
died prior to this war. Had John’s mother been living, she may have talked her
son out of taking part in this war. Being a mother, I’m sure I certainly would
have tried to persuade my eleven or twelve-year old son to stay home. However,
John’s mother had already died at this time and John was forced to become a man
at a very young age.
It is reported that Lewis married his second wife, Elizabeth Blackburn in Halifax County, North Carolina in February of 1777. (Scalf Family History)
I have not seen this marriage record but I am assuming that Elmer Scalf did see this since he also gives the date for the marriage of Elizabeth’s sister, Amy Blackburn, on the same date which was February 28, 1777.
What concerns me here is, if Elizabeth Blackburn did not marry Lewis Scalf until February 28, 1777 how could she have been Elizabeth Scalf on January 23, 1777 when her father wrote his will? I am assuming here that Elmer may have intended to state January --1777, instead of February. (Will Abstract of John Blackburn, 1777)
The Revolutionary War began in this year so the first Mrs. Lewis Scalf had
surely died before the beginning of the war. Just three months after the
marriage of his father, John Sr. enlisted in the company of Captain Gregory in
the 10th Regiment of the Continental Line for a term of three years. (State of
NC Secretary of States Office, 1837)
John states in his pension papers that his Colonel was “Col. Shepperd.”
Not only did John state this information, but also a comrade who served with John in the 10th Regiment, Mr. Thomas Pratt, offered his statement confirming that John was a soldier in the 10th Regiment. Mr. Pratt was known to be a highly respected man in the neighborhood. This statement was sent to Mr. J. L. Edwards, Commissioner of Pensions in 1837. (Statement of John Scalf and Thomas Pratt, Sept. 1837) (Statement of John Scalf and Thomas Pratt, Sept. 1837 part 2)
John could not have been more than eleven or twelve years old at the time he enlisted in the Revolutionary War if he was born in 1765 or 1766. We can only approximate a death date for the mother of John Sr., and in view of the assumed birth date of David S. Scalf, the youngest son, 1772, it is likely that their mother died between 1772 and 1777. Sarah was certainly born during this time, either between Benjamin and David S. or the last child born and it is possible that their mother died in childbirth to Sarah or David. This speculation would still put her death date 1772-1777.
The records show that John Scalf Sr. was released from service in 1780 after spending the winter under the care of a physician. In his pension file, John stated that he enlisted in Johnston County, North Carolina. This is the only indication I find that suggests where his father, Lewis, may have been living in 1777 and is also possible that Lewis was living in Halifax County since he is reported to have married there in this same year. He did not necessarily have to be living in Johnston County for John to have enlisted in Johnston County. John states in his pension file that his father was also a soldier but no records have been found of his enlistment.
After John’s pension was revoked in 1838, depositions were taken from various folks in Hawkins County, Tennessee to try and persuade the War Department to re-instate the pension. Mr. Edwards of the War Department turned deaf ears to these statements. He ignored the statements of some very prominent citizens of Hawkins and instead, sent a letter to Hawkins County requesting that John answer some questions to confirm his service. John answered these questions, but they were also to no avail.
This is the response, though not in its entirety, of John Scalf Sr. via the Justice of the Peace for Hawkins County, Tennessee. The original document (page 1) is listed on this website to compare this typed copy. If anyone can see a mistake or believes they recognize something that should be different, please let me know. This document is very difficult to read and I have been copying and re-copying for clearer readability for many years and I welcome any input.
State of Tennessee
Personally appeared before
me Robert Rogers an acting Justice of the Peace for said County John Scalf who
being first duly sworn States in answer to the forgoing questions as follows
answer to 1st question The respondent has no recollection of Ever
having obtained a warrant for bounty land if ever such was obtained it must have
been rec’d by affiants father who Served in the war of the Revolution with
affiant and affiant being at that time Young and inexperienced did not
inquire for it or attend to getting it In answer to 2d Question (misspelled
word marked through) affiant immigrated from Clay County Kentucky and resided
there about two years at the Goose Creek Salt works owned by Wm. Hubbard, Esq
To show he bore the reputation of having been a Revolutionary Soldier he refers
Mr. Edwards to Esqr. Hubbard – Lewis Jackson – (……?) and James Jones - William
(----) --------------------------------(line faded) Kentucky this affiant lived
in Russell County Virginia where he lived for nine or ten years where affiants
Son was indicted for passing a counterfeit half dollar and employed the
Honorable Mr. Hopkins Member of Congress to defend him after his son was
acquitted of the charges Mr. Hopkins had his land taken to pay his fee and
because this affiant would not pay the balance Said Hopkins threatened he would
have affiants pension Stopped for purposes of this reason affiant refers to a
gentleman by the name of (line drawn through name) Sharpe Esq. Lawyer
--------------(last line faded out)
(John Scalf, Sr. 1839 Hawkins Co original document pg 1)
My note: The second page of this document is very faded and only a word here and there can be deciphered. The name JERRY COUCH near Lebanon, Russell County, Virginia can be seen. This appears to be in reference also to John’s witness of his service but more work will need to be done on this to decipher exactly what John was saying here.
However, this affidavit does confirm that Lewis Scalf was in fact, a Revolutionary Soldier in the Revolution with his son, John Scalf Sr. Lewis was allowed to draw in the 1830 Georgia Lottery of which he was a fortunate drawer. Due to the fact that a number of different criteria had to be met for one to draw in the lottery, it is still un-established as to whether Lewis was allowed to draw due to his age or his service in the Revolution or possibly both.
It is possible that Lewis used another name when he enlisted and the name has
not been recognized. Lewis was not found in the records of North Carolina after
his birth in 1745 until 1777 when he married Elizabeth Blackburn and again in
1779 when he is found in Cumberland County listed in the tax records of that
year. From 1745 to 1777 is a total of thirty-two years that Lewis disappears
from the records. We do not know where he was living before he married in
Halifax County to Elizabeth Blackburn.
Lewis may have lived in Pasquotank County with his first wife but there is no record of a marriage there for a Lewis Scalf unless the record was not recognized. In all likelihood, Lewis had another name besides Lewis as most folks had a first and middle name. It is possible he used another name on records that we are unaware of and would not recognize, or it may simply have been overlooked.
At some point, Lewis may have left Pasquotank County and moved over to Johnston or Halifax County before his first wife died. He may also have married her in one of these counties. Whether Lewis was living in Halifax County or whether he was living in Johnston is difficult to determine without other records such as land deeds to refer to. John would have been living with Lewis in 1777 when he joined the Continental Line.
In estimating the births of Lewis’ first children, if John Sr. was born about 1765, he would have been twelve years old when he entered the service. If Benjamin was the next son, and was actually 105 years old at this death in 1870 in Illinois, then he was born around 1765. However, I am inclined to believe that Benjamin was actually born in 1767 or 1768 and not 1765, unless he was the oldest son, which is very difficult to determine as well. It is also likely that Benjamin did not know exactly how old he was and his children could have misstated his age at his death not knowing the exact year of his birth.
This is only a matter of three years and is typical of the times. He was possibly around 102 years old instead of the 105 stated in his obituary. If this information is near correct, then he would have been around 9 years old when John Sr. entered the service. If David S. Scalf, brother of John Sr. and Benjamin, was born around 1772 as believed, then their mother (the first wife of Lewis Scalf) surely died between 1772 and 1777. This is as close to a death date on Lewis’ first wife as I have been able to determine.
David S. Scalf would have only been five years old in 1777. It is unknown how old their sister, Sarah, may have been. It is also just as possible that David was the last child and Sarah was born between Benjamin and David since there is a time-span of four years between Benjamin and David. Most often, children were born every other year during this time. Whatever the scenario here, the mother of John Scalf Sr. died at a young age and was most likely only married around twelve to fifteen years at her death.
The pension file relates that John was discharged home in the spring of 1780 after almost three years of service. The tax records of 1784 show that Lewis, John’s father, was living in Johnston County in 1784. However, the tax records of Cumberland County, North Carolina reveal that Lewis was living in Cumberland County in 1779 just two years after the war began. Cumberland County was a neighboring county to Johnston County in 1779 and located southeast of Johnston. Edgecombe County was a neighboring county located to the north of Johnston and Halifax was a neighboring county of Edgecombe located north of Edgecombe.
For a very good description of the county changes in North Carolina see the following URL address. http://www.rootsweb.com/~nccatawb/countyfm.htm
In her deposition in Rogersville, Tennessee Edy Carlisle Scalf states that she was married to John Scalf on February 15, 1787 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. They were most likely living in the home of John’s father on the tax list of this year. It is believed that this Carlisle family lived along Fishing Creek in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.
By 1790, Lewis was living in Edgecombe County near Edeah Carlile/Carlisle’s family as can be seen from a transcribed copy of the 1790 census. In the home of Lewis Scalf at this time were two white males sixteen years and up including the head of house. This is probably Lewis and John Sr. since son, William, would not have been 16 years old at this time.
Lewis had three white males under sixteen in the home and five females including his wife. By this time, Benjamin and David were most likely married. We know that John Sr. was married for he married in 1787 to Edeah Carlile/Carlisle according to her statement. John Sr. cannot be found as head of house in 1790. For this reason, I am assuming he is the male on this census over 16 years old listed with the head of house. One of the females is probably Edy Carlisle Scalf. Of the five females in the home, two of these girls were probably daughters of John Sr. and Edy Carlisle Scalf. Nancy and Polly Scalf were born 1788 and 1789 respectively according to the pension file of John Sr.
If one female is Elizabeth Blackburn Scalf, one is Edy Carlisle Scalf, and two are Edy’s daughters, then the other female could have been Sarah Scalf, daughter of Lewis and his first wife. One of the males under sixteen is most likely William, son of Lewis and Elizabeth. It is equally possible that one male under the age of sixteen was John Jr. if he was in fact, born in 1790.
However, it is not likely that the third male belonged to John and Edy. The
other male was probably a son of Lewis and Elizabeth that either died young or
has eluded the records. It is this record that lists Lewis Scalf as Lewis Calf.
Although there was a Calf family, the fact that Lewis is living near the
relatives of his daughter-in-law would suggest that this is Lewis Scalf.
1790 North Carolina Halifax district - Edgecombe County – pg. 54a.
1st No. - free white males 16 years and upward and head of families
2nd No. - free white males under 16 years
3rd No. - free white females and head of families
4th No. - all other free persons
5th No. - slaves
Lewis and his family traveled in a southwesterly direction across North Carolina and John Sr. was probably with him until he left Wilkes County
1803 – 1806. The Carlile family listed here is most likely the family of Edy Carlile/Carlisle.
By 1800 John is listed as head of house in his own home in Surry County, North Carolina. Lewis is living nearby. John is listed with one white poll. By 1803 John is in Wilkes County and this is where he had gotten into some trouble over the theft of a hog. Wilkes was created from Surry and John was probably living in the area that became Wilkes instead of moving as it appears. By 1810 a John Scalf is in Floyd County, Kentucky. John most likely left Wilkes around 1805 or 1806 by estimation.
John arrived in Russell County, Virginia by the year 1820 where he is listed on the 1820 Russell County census and in the court records of Russell County in that same year.
In Russell County, Virginia John would begin a new battle. This battle was different from the one he had fought in the Revolution and one that would last for many more years to come. There is little doubt as to John’s ability to take care of his family. After reading the statements of the doctors who examined him in Rogersville, Tennessee, I cannot imagine how he managed as well as he did.
John had not only been shot in the right leg near the ankle joint, he had been shot in the abdomen and the right thigh. After John was wounded, he stated that he laid “all winter under the care of a phision in the country by the name of Brimson.” He was examined in the spring and thought “not fit for service” and in the summer was permitted to go home if he could.. He sent to his father and scuffled on as well as he could until he met his father and arrived home in the fall of 1780. In my opinion, this word, “phision” is simply a misspelling by the clerk writing down the information and it should have been physician.
Dr. A. Carmichael and Dr. Walker of Rogersville, Tennessee were requested to examine John’s wounds and give an opinion concerning the scars as to whether they were gunshot wounds. I quote from that record in part.
John had been “shot through the leg immediately on the right side of the tibia, close to its anterior angle or spine and not far from the middle of the bone and to have passed out at or near the middle of the external side of the limb, having splintered or fractured in its course the fibula as appeared from a scar an inch and an half or two inches lower down on the same side of the limb where the fractured piece of bone is said to have crossed.”
The tibia and fibula are the two bones, which connect the knee to the ankle joint. John stated in his deposition that “the bones were shattered and coming out at the ankle.” John was also shot in the same leg above the knee in the anterior part of the right thigh. Anterior means directed towards the front. This would suggest that John was shot in the front part of the right thigh with the shot entering about five to six inches above the right knee. This musket ball was extracted according to the papers so the physician that cared for John had apparently been able to remove this musket ball. The musket ball, which John received in the lower part of the leg near the ankle, most likely went completely through the leg splintering/fracturing the tibia and fibula bones.
The doctors stated that the scar from the shot to the abdomen was located in the left hypochondriac region. This region is located in the upper lateral (away from the midline plane of the body) abdominal region, overlying the costal (ribs) cartilages on either side of the epigastrium (upper and middle region of the abdomen). It appears the shot would have hit him around the upper left rib area or in the mid upper abdomen near the left rib area. (Carmichael and Walker Statements) (See also for certificates)
These statements leave little doubt in my mind that John Sr. was crippled and no doubt, in pain for the most of his lifetime. This twelve-year old boy had fought for the freedom of his country, had been shot to pieces and was very fortunate he did not die from the loss of blood or gangrene. I have no way of knowing the extent of the deformity of John’s leg or foot but I would imagine it was possible from this type of wound that his leg would have been deformed to an extent. The thigh shot was probably a clean shot leaving little damage but probably still painful as the years went by and arthritis set in. I doubt the abdomen or the lower extremity was anything but painful and troublesome all of his life.
In light of these facts, there is little doubt in my mind as to why John could not take care of his family during a time when survival was tough on an able-bodied man much less one who was not. John had no pain pills to take when the weather changed and the rain or cold made his bones hurt. Whisky and moonshine were the choice painkillers of the day and the report of these doctors suggests to me that John was unable to take care of such a large family. Due to this, it is not surprising that John was known to “take a drink now and then.”
It has been suggested that John Sr. may have been an imposter and did not serve in the Revolutionary War. This was of concern to me as some evidence seemed to suggest that it was possible; however, after reviewing the complete pension file, I have concluded that John was not an imposter but was in fact, a Revolutionary Soldier. This also can be a matter of opinion among researchers and I can only present my basis for my belief that he was not an imposter.
It appears that John was often confused with John Scarf, Pvt. John Scarfe served 39 months in the Revolution under Col. Lockheart. This John Scarf received 297 acres of bounty land for his service in the Revolution (warrant #584). This probably also caused John Sr. some problems in having his pension reinstated after it was revoked. When asked if John had ever received any bounty land for his service during this process, John stated no, that he knew nothing of any bounty land. He also stated that if there had been any, his father may have gotten it since John was too young to know about these things.
For quite sometime I thought it was possible that John may have actually impersonated this John Scarf and claimed his pension until I discovered these two men served in different Regiments. In order for John to impersonate anyone, it would have had to be someone with the same name or a similar name. In my opinion, this rules out the possibility of John Scalf impersonating John Scarf.
A request was sent to North Carolina by the court clerk in Rogersville, Tennessee to check the records for this bounty land and the response was returned stating that John had been issued bounty land when most likely it was not John Scalf Sr., but rather, Pvt. John Scarf who received the bounty land. John Sr. enlisted in Gregory’s company and is stated on the rolls as Corporal Jno. Scalf. He enlisted May 30, 1777 for three years and was released from duty in 1780 sometime after he was wounded. Pvt. John Scarf served three years and three months without incident for which he received bounty land issued to him by bounty land warrant #584. I am assuming that this is why the clerk responded that John Scalf had received bounty land. He apparently was also confused between the names of the two men.
Andrew Johnson, Representative, later President Andrew Johnson, became involved with the case after John’s pension was revoked. Mr. Johnson requested this information from J. L. Edwards in their correspondence. The fact that Mr. Johnson later requested bounty land in the amount of 297 acres suggests to me that he checked into the matter and found that Pvt. John Scarf or someone else had received this bounty land that was allegedly given to John Scalf.
Mr. Johnson made a motion in Congress when he was a Representative that John be granted 297 acres of bounty land for his service. This record is discussed further along. There is no record in the pension file that mentions anything about 297 acres of bounty land. Nothing in this file suggests that John ever received any bounty land other than the response from North Carolina suggesting that he had. His wife, Edy, did receive 160 acres after the death of John Sr.
From the records I have read concerning bounty land issues, this could have been the amount of bounty land issued to a Private. The higher the rank, the more the allotment of bounty land. Obviously, since John Scarf was a Private, he would not have been issued 297 acres unless there had been confusion between the two names but the warrant issued to John Scarf states 297 acres. (Secretary of State, North Carolina-1837)
No doubt, the records were confusing. There appears to be no record of a pension file for John Scarf in the Washington Archives. When I requested the pension file of John Scalf Sr., stating he was in Gregory’s company and the time he served, I received the file on John Scalf Sr. When I requested the file from the Archives for John Scarf in the company of Col. Lockheart, again I received the pension file of John Scalf Sr.
I have found no evidence that John Scalf Sr. ever served under Col. Lockheart. Therefore, I must assume that they are two different people. It is possible that John Scarf died before the pension act was passed and if this is true, there would be no pension application on file for John Scarf. If not, then his pension application may have been destroyed by one of the many tragedies in history such as burned courthouses.
Lewis Scalf is reported to have had a brother, John Scarf. Whether this John
Scarf was that brother or not, I have no way of knowing. If he was, then it is likely that he died before the pension act was ever passed or possibly may have been too old to recall enough information to obtain his pension. Although we can only speculate what may have happened concerning these two men, it is my opinion that there is enough supporting evidence to safely conclude that there was definite confusion between the two and John Sr. likely suffered a good deal because of this.
Other segments of this chapter will be posted as soon as possible. The story
of John Sr. is a lengthy story and will require a good deal of scanning
documents. Please be patient as I try to get this done for some of these
documents are difficult to scan and will most likely have to be taken to a
professional organization to hopefully present a more readable document.
Copyright (C) 2002-2008 by Margaret Fleenor, All Rights Reserved.