The Struggle in Russell County, Virginia

It was a relatively short distance across the mountain to Russell County, Virginia where John Sr. and his family settled for an undetermined amount of time.  It is indicated in the pension file that John may have lived in Kentucky at two separate times.  However, some statements concerning this are unclear. A friend, James Burke, Esquire, from Clay County, Kentucky gave his deposition in Rogersville, Tennessee in support for the restoration of John’s pension.  James stated that he had become acquainted with John in Clay County, Kentucky and had known him for about twelve years. This places John in Clay County, Kentucky around 1825, which would have been after the move to Russell County, Virginia and after his children were apprenticed by the court of Russell County in 1820. (James Burke-1837 statement)

It appears that John might have left Russell County 1820 - 1828 and moved to Clay County, Kentucky and back again to Russell County.  However, no record has confirmed this, other than the statement of James Burke.  The records of Russell County, Virginia do not indicate that John Sr. was actually living in Russell County between 1820 and 1830.  John may or may not have been a resident of Russell County at the time his son, John Jr., was charged with passing a counterfeit coin in 1828.

The records indicate that John might have been living in Russell County around 1834 for the Russell County Court Minutes reveal that John sold property in Russell County before moving to Hawkins County. Although this record does indicate that John was living in Russell County, it does not mean necessarily mean that he was. One of his sons might have been living on the land John owned while John was living somewhere else. This is doubtful but possible. John and Edy were generally found living near their oldest son, John Jr. and John Jr. was living in Russell County at this time. Unless John and Edy were living elsewhere with a married daughter, they most likely were living in Russell as well.

John Sr. first appears in Russell County, Virginia on the 1820 Russell County census.  The date this census was enumerated is not known but the records of the Russell County Court Minutes reveal that John was in Russell County by August 3, 1820 and living as a tenant farmer on the land of the Gose family.  No doubt, John had arrived in Russell sometime between 1810-1820 if he was the John Scalf detained in the Prestonsburg jail in Floyd County, Kentucky. 

The statement of Patsy Counts Scalf in her deposition in Hawkins County also places John in Russell County between 1820 and 1825. Although John may have gone directly to Russell County from Floyd County, Kentucky, it is possible he went to the newly formed Scott County, Virginia area before moving on into Russell County. 

Legend suggests that his son, Berryman, was born at Copper Creek Community, which is in Scott County, Virginia and this could very well be true.  John and his family may have gone to Scott County first before moving on up to Russell County when they left Floyd County, Kentucky. However, this is only speculation.   

The winding mountain roads can be traveled from Copper Creek in Scott County to Russell County in a short time and the fact that Berryman moved to Copper Creek shortly before his wife, Rebecca, died might indicate that Berryman possibly had been in this area previously.  The family knows of no reason Berryman would have chosen to move to Copper Creek since there is no record or indication that he knew anyone or was related to anyone in this community.

A study of the Russell County records does reveal that Berryman knew a number of folks living in the Copper Creek Community that had previously been neighbors in Russell County. Berryman married the widow, Margaret Fields Gilliam, after the death of Rebecca. Margaret and her family were living in the Copper Creek Community when Rebecca died. The records relate that Margaret’s father had been a neighbor in Russell County, Virginia as well as a few other folks in the Copper Creek Community in 1870.

One needs no particular reason for moving and it is likely that Berryman made this choice due to a good land prospect or the fact that his occupation may have been in demand in this area.  We have no way of knowing the reasons for this move and much speculation can be conjectured concerning this. The records are limited in confirming anything definite concerning this aspect of his life.

Scott County would have been an ideal area for John Sr. to be near his children in Russell and his children in Hawkins County. If land deeds exist for John Sr. in Scott County, I have not found them. He was possibly living as a “tenant farmer” in Scott County as he had in Russell County. If so, there would be no land records or any other type of record unless there was a birth or death recorded and I find no evidence of any of these things in the Scott County records. The court minutes of Scott County also reveal no indications of John Sr. having been in the area but this is of little significance due to the fact that John was a tenant farmer and owned no land at this time. There were no laws requiring the documentation of a birth or death during this time either. We are very fortunate to find these types of records for these periods.

This is also speculation presented only to enlighten those who are not familiar with this particular area and inform them of the possibilities of where John might have been. There are a number of possibilities concerning where John might have been when not in Russell County and they are not limited to the surrounding counties of Russell. Tennessee is nearby as well as Kentucky. John could have just as easily been in one of these neighboring states due to their locations.

The 1820 Russell County, Virginia census provides a closer estimation of the ages of the John Sr.’s family.

1820 Russell County, Virginia

Scalf, John 152-A


Estimated birth

5 males

  5 - 10

1810 - 1815
2 males 10 - 16 1804 - 1810
1 male 16 - 18 1802 - 1804
2 males 18 - 26 1794 - 1802-(count only one male here)
1 male 45 - up 1775 - or before
2 females 16 - 26 1794 - 1804
1 female 45 - up 1775 - or before

One of the males age 18-26 is probably Brittan (spelled Britain on some records) and the other is John Jr. John Jr. is not found as head of house in 1820 in Russell County so he is probably the other male in the 18-26 age range.  One male in the 16-18 age range is also included again in the age range of 18-26.  This is how the 1820 census of at least this area was enumerated.

The 1820 census of Russell County (possibly others) is different than any other census.  The person listed in the 16-18 year range was counted twice if old enough to be counted in the 18-26 age range as well. When reading this census, this should be remembered.  If you have more children than was known to have existed in the family, this could be the reason.

The 1820 census is very valuable in estimating the age of those listed in this category. Due to this type of enumeration, we know that Brittan was seventeen or eighteen years old in 1820 because he is listed twice on this census if he was the son born after John Jr. and if Edy remembered his age correctly.  This calculates a birth year for Brittan of 1803 instead of 1799 but allowing for the two or three years that Edy may have been off on the age, it is still possible he was born in 1799.

This census indicates that John Jr. was older than eighteen and John Jr. is believed to have been the first son born. Again, this suggests that John Jr. was born later than 1790 and according to this census, would have born around 1794 - 1802.  If John Jr. was born after 1790, then he would not be the male in the home of Lewis Scalf on the 1790 census of North Carolina. If John Jr. was not the son in the home of his grandfather, Lewis Scalf, in 1790 as previously discussed, then this leaves us with the assumption that Lewis and Elizabeth had three sons by the time of the 1790 census.

The females of these same years (1820) could have been either one of the daughters of John, other than Nancy and Polly. It is specifically stated in the pension papers that they were the oldest children. The five males 5-10 could have been Lee, Ira, Jesse, Peter and Robert.  The two males 10-16 were probably William (No.2) and Berryman.  Of course, John Sr. would be the male 45 and up and Edy would be the female 45 and up. 

This accounts for all of the children with the exception of Nancy and Polly, some of their sisters, and the first William who is said to have died young.  It would be difficult to determine which of the girls had actually married at this time without other records.  However, if the girls were not married, they were most likely living in the home of someone else on this census. These girls may have married by this time and were in their own homes.  Since there is nothing to accurately confirm the order of birth or a marriage date for the girls, this is only speculation. 

In 1810, John had three boys in the home. John Jr. could have possibly been working on a nearby farm. In 1820, John Sr. had nine boys and two girls in the home. Possibly, our Kentucky cousins will find information in their search to confirm that John Jr. was working nearby and inform us of this.    

Deducting for William (No.1) who had died, Nancy, Polly, Dicy and possibly Betsy who may have married by 1820, there would be sixteen children total.  According to the 1820 census, all of John and Edy’s children were born by 1815.  If one counts from the year 1787 to 1815, Edy probably had children every other year beginning with the two documented birth dates of 1788 and 1789.

At some point, Edy probably had children in three or possibly four consecutive years, either at the beginning of her family or at sometime during her childbearing years.  This was most likely during the beginning of her family due to the timing of Nancy and Polly’s births in March of 1788 and April of 1789. Due to their birth dates, it would have been possible for the next child to be born in 1790.

However, as stated before, one cannot rely on the census records to be accurate concerning ages.  We can rest assured that all the children of this family were born before 1820 due to the record in this year concerning the removal of the minor children from the home, for these children were named in the court records of 1820.

In her statement, Edy states in one deposition that Polly was her oldest child and was born March 27, 1788. In another statement, Edy states that Nancy was born March 27, 1788 and Polly was born April 1789. Edy was getting on in years when these statements were made. This is discussed further on and the document will be posted for reference.  According to the 1820 census of Russell County, Virginia, John would have been born later than 1790. This creates difficulty in pinpointing the exact birth year of John Jr.

Although I doubt that any of the youngest children were born much later than 1815, it is possible that the last child was born 1816 or 1817 and the ages were stated wrong in 1820. The 1820 census of Russell does not suggest that any females were born after 1804 but Betsy is listed in previous writings as being born 1816 and Cecilia in 1823.  According to the statement of Thomas Lockard in Hawkins County, Cecilia was probably born earlier than 1823. However, it is difficult to determine when Betsy might have been born. In Patsy Scalf’s deposition in Hawkins County, Betsy only had one child by 1845, which suggests she did not marry until 1840-1845 unless children had died.

The records of Russell County, Virginia begin to give us more insight into the life of the Scalf family. On August 3, 1820, the court of Russell County, Virginia records the following on page 258 of the August 1820 term:

August 3, 1820 — page 258

Present John Hamon, Absent John Smyth gent.

On report of John Smyth an Overseer of the poor in the County of Russell it is ordered that William, Berry, Ira, Lea, Peter and Jesse & Robert children of John Scalf who is unable to support his said children and bring them up in honest causes be bound out to some fit persons as apprentices. (Court minutes of Russell County, August 3, 1820, pg. 258).

This is transcribed exactly as it was written with the limitations of the keyboard. The keyboard does not have the capability to reproduce the symbol used that represents (&). The (V) is substituted because it is closer to the letter used in the old writings.

This record is a very good indication of which boys were the youngest.  These boys would have been minors at this time in order to be apprenticed. It is evident by this record that all the sons of John Sr. were born by 1820. This also confirms that John Jr., and Brittan were the two boys over, or near eighteen years of age in 1820 and most likely, Brittan was now eighteen years old.  William (No.2) was under 18 years old at this time for he was apprenticed and would have been a minor. It is difficult to estimate just how much younger than Brittan, William may have been.

It is possible that the boys were listed in the order of their respective ages since the old documents have often revealed this to have been practiced during the early days. Robert was probably no more than three years old at this time and five years old at the most. In estimation, I would assume William to have been at least fourteen or sixteen years old at this time.

In the early writings of the Counts Family History there was a mixture of marriages among the Counts family members and the Longs, Goses, Smyths/Smiths and Hamons/Hammonds of Russell County, just to mention a few.  This court order was probably the beginnings of the troubles between the relatives of Patsy Counts Scalf and the Scalf family.

Just two short months to the day, the court of Russell County enters another record.

October 3, 1820 — page 274

At a Court called and held by the justices of Russell County at the Courthouse on Tuesday the 3rd day of October 1820 for the examination of John Scalf charged with a felony by taking from the possession of Stephen Gose his son William Scalf bound to the said Gose by one of the overseers of the poor as an apprentice.

Present, John Tate, James Browning, James Dickenson, Saml Aston and Nathan Hamilton, gentlemen justices   The prisoner being brought into court, and it appearing that the charge against him does not constitute a felony, it is considered by the court, that the said John Scalf be discharged from his imprisonment, and go thereof without further prosecution.                                                   

                                                                                              John Tate
(Russell County Court Minutes, Oct. 3, 1820, pg. 274)

William had spent a short time with the Stephen Gose family until John took him home when he met them on the road in Russell County.  This suggests that John either did not realize he would be charged with this action, or he did not care.  Whichever the case, John brought his son home and was probably ready to fight to accomplish this. It is possible that he did have an encounter with Gose or Smyth according to the way the next court record reads. 

No records exist to suggest whether the other children were actually removed or to what family, but if they were, most likely they returned home as well, for John Sr. apparently had a strong argument at the Courthouse that day in Russell with John Smyth or there was trouble on the road when John took his son, William.  There is little doubt that John probably threatened Smyth at the courthouse that day in Russell County for the Russell County records record the following:

October 3, 1820 — page 278

For reasons appearing to the Court, on the complaint of John Smyth junior, it is ordered that John Scalf who is in Court be required to enter into recognizance for keeping the peace towards the said John Smith for the term of twelve months, himself in the sum of $50.00 with two securities in the sum of $25.00 each; whereupon the said John Scalf with David McClenahen and John Counts senr his securities here in Court, acknowledge themselves, indebted to Thomas (m)? Randolph esquire governor or chief magistrate of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the said John Scalf in the sum of fifty dollars and the said David McClenahen and John Counts senr. In the sum of $25.00 each, of their respective lands and tenements goods and chattels to be levied, and to the said Governor and his successor for the use of the Commonwealth to be rendered; Yet, upon condition that if the said John Scalf shall keep the peace & be of good behavior towards all the Citizens of the Commonwealth and especially towards the said John Smith for the term of 12 mo. As aforesaid, then this recognizance is to be void. 

(Russell County Court Minutes, Oct. 3, 1820, pg. 278)

No doubt, this was a difficult task for John Sr. However, John managed to make good his promise to the court and eight years passed without incident for John. At least, none were recorded.  It is during this time that I believe John Sr. made a trip back to Clay County, Kentucky to work in the Goose Creek Salt Mines.  There is no way of knowing if John moved his family to Kentucky again or if John possibly went alone as this would have been between the census years.

John states in his pension file that he lived for six years in Russell County, Virginia in one document but in another he stated ten years. This was likely due to his age and memory loss. We have no way of knowing when these years began or when they ended. There are no records in Russell to suggest that John was living in Russell after this court action and the records do not reveal the exact time John arrived in Russell County. The year 1820 is the first recorded reference of the Scalf family in Russell County but it is likely they were either in Russell or some other county of Kentucky before this. If John fled the confinements of jail in Floyd County, Kentucky, he had to go somewhere else. 

John may have stayed in Russell County from 1820 through 1826 trying to get the other children back if they had been removed.  Possibly, he went to Clay County to work for the money to acquire help to get his children back, or the children may have never been removed.  We have no way of knowing but the lack of records also suggest that these other children were never removed from the home.

One might assume if they had been, John would not have given by simply taking William and leaving the others.  Although John may have kept the peace with John Smith for the year ordered, I doubt he would have been able to keep it after the bond had expired. John’s personality is not reflected to me as one that would have simply given up on this matter. I also suspect he may have left Russell County in order to keep the peace between himself and Smyth.  

With the assumption that at least Nancy and Polly married by 1820, it would be logical to assume that John was in Russell County before 1820 because these girls do not appear to be in the home on the 1820 Russell census.  A check of the area reveals that the Williams Family, the Trent family, and Collins family were in the Russell County area before 1820. The patriarch of the Williams family appears to have been Aldain Williams who is found on the tax lists of Russell County.  Aldain was alternately listed in the tax records as both Williams and Williamson but was most likely Williams.

The Trent family appears in Russell County as early as 1792 with John Trent being the first found on the 1792 land tax list of Russell owning 200 acres.  By 1797 an Alexander Trent is listed on the personal property tax list.  It is unknown with any certainty which Alexander this may have been since there are a number of Alexander Trents. If this Alexander was the Revolutionary Soldier, he would have been around twenty-nine years older than Polly.  Polly’s husband was possibly the son of one of these men from the tax list. With the help of a Trent family descendant, the Revolutionary Alexander was ruled out as her husband due to the following information.

“This is probably the Revolutionary Alexander who was born 29 March 1759 in Chesterfield County, VA. This Alexander married at least twice but his first wife is unknown.  Alexander married Jane Burton sometime around 1792.  They were married by a Baptist minister, Rev. Vincent Jones.  Alexander and Jane moved to TN where he died in Hawkins Co, 17 May 1841.” (Ref: Barbara Marsh, Trent descendant/researcher).

The pension file of John Sr. reveals that Polly's husband was living in 1845. 

The Collins family was in Russell County as early as 1820 where a Sarah Collins is found as head of house and in the home is an elderly man, which was probably her father or father-in-law. Isaac Collens (Collins) was found as head of house on this census and a Martin Collens (Collins) is listed as head of house as well. Marten is listed as being 26-45 as well as his wife. No children are in the home.

Isaac is listed as being over 45 and his wife is over 26-45 years old. This age range could possibly fit the age of Nancy Scalf.  There are four girls under 10 and a boy under 10. This would suggest that Isaac was born 1775 or before and Martin Collens (Collins) could have possibly been a son or a younger brother. These families might prove to be a good avenue of research for the descendants of Nancy and Betsy Scalf Collins. There are young children in the home of Sarah Collins on this census.  No other Collins/Collins families are found in the Russell County census of 1820.  


In 1830, a John and Isaac Collins show up as head of house. Isaac is most likely the Isaac Collens listed on the 1820 census due to his age.  His wife is listed as 30-40 and Isaac is listed as 60-70. The age of his wife would fit near enough to the age of Nancy Scalf given the variance of the time they were usually off on their ages. Sally Collins is also listed as head of house.  Sally is most likely the Sarah (head of house) from the 1820 census.  (

By 1840, the heads of house are Burgess, Edward, Sarah and Amy Collins.  (

Nancy might also have met her husband in Floyd County, Kentucky and remained there, not moving with the family to Russell.  This could be said of either of the oldest girls that are not shown on the 1820 census, but it is likely that Dicy and Polly married in Russell County. Betsy may have married after leaving Russell for Hawkins County, Tennessee. The girls not listed on the 1820 census could also have been living in another home as housekeepers. This was common for the time as well.

It is likely that Dicy married in Russell County for she and her husband can be found on the 1830 census of Russell County.  This census reveals a birth date for Dicy of around 1800-1810.  Whether this is accurate or not is questionable.  It would seem logical that these girls married someone from their neighborhood as most folks did during this time. I find no other Squire Williams in the area and this is the name given in the pension files of John Sr. as the husband of Dicy Scalf; therefore, I am assuming this is the same family in Russell County, Virginia. . (

The Lockhard/Lockhart family is first found in Russell County in 1793 where a William Lockhart is listed on the 1793 tax list of Russell County, Virginia. William owned 306 acres of an original grant to William Fletcher.  William remains on the tax lists until at least, 1796.  On the 1830 census of this county, a John, William, James and Bird Lockheart appear as heads of house. In 1840, only James, John, and William are found.  A Dicy Lockheart is also head of house on this census and was probably the widow of Bird Lockheart since Bird is missing from this census.

In all probability, the Scalf girls met and married their husbands in Russell County, Virginia with the exception of Lydia Scalf Painter.  The Painter/Panter/Paynter family appears to have largely settled in and around the Greene/Washington County, Tennessee area but I have not researched this thoroughly enough to know which earlier route may have brought them to these areas. The New River Valley was a common route of the early pioneer families and many who are found in Washington County, Virginia can be found later in Washington County, Tennessee as well as the Russell County, Virginia area.

Quite possibly, they were in Washington County, Virginia before Russell County was established and later moved just over the state line to Washington County, Tennessee.  Lydia may have met her husband while living with the Berryman Scalf family or while visiting them.  The Painter history is quite interesting and will be discussed in another chapter.  A search of the Floyd, Clay, Knox, and Perry County areas might prove valuable in determining whether Nancy and Betsy might have married in Kentucky or not.

In Russell County, Virginia, on March 4, 1828, a fight took place between Brittan Scalf and John Long.  It is unknown what this fight was about but was most likely concerning the problems John Sr.’s family had been having.  This is picked up in the second paragraph of the charges presented to the grand jury in 1828 and goes into the last paragraph of this page.

March 4, 1828 — page 1- 2

They also presented John Long and Britain Scalf for an assault; and then the grand jury having nothing further to present, was discharged.

John Long & Britain Scalf who stand, presented by the Grand Jury for an assault committed on each other — the said John Long in his proper person & the said Britain Scalf by Jeremiah Couch came into Court and by consent of the Court confessed judgments for a fine, each of one dollar each, and paid down in Court the said fines and the Clerks and Commonwealths attornies fees.   (Russell County Court Minutes, March 4, 1828, pg. 1-2)

It is believed that Jeremiah Couch was the father of Talitha Couch, wife of Brittan Scalf. Jeremiah is listed in the 1820, 1830 and 1840 census records of Russell County. Jeremiah appears on the personal property tax List of Russell County in 1810. A William Couch appears in 1801 and 1802 and might possibly have been Jeremiah’s father, as William is not listed in the 1810 tax list.


Things seemed to settle down a bit for the Scalf family in Russell and on May 7, 1833 Brittan Scalf was appointed Surveyor of the road from the South bank of Clinch River to the Reeds Valley road.  This record relates that this is probably where Brittan and Talitha lived.  Men were appointed by the courts for the upkeep of the roads in their neighborhood.

Brittan bought and sold land according to the Russell County records.  It has been stated that Brittan was building a business in Russell County before his death.  His wife, Talitha Couch Scalf, would ultimately have to sell everything after the death of her husband and move to Kentucky where it is reported she lived near Brittan’s relatives after his death.

The 1830 census of Russell County reveals that John Sr. was still in the area at this time. There are five boys and two girls in the home.  John is now 60 – 70 years old and Edy is 50 –60 respectively.  The boys range in age from ten to 20 and the girls from 5 to 20.  However, I do not believe these children were all children of John and Edy and may have been grandchildren. 


John Jr. and Patsy are living next door to John Sr. and have a son under five, a daughter under five and a daughter five to ten years old.  John Jr. and Patsy had probably not been married more than nine or ten years at this time according to the age of the oldest child. This census suggests that the first child of John Jr. and Patsy was a girl.  The son may have been born next and then another girl or vice-versa.

The birth years for these children are estimated at 1825 to 1830 for the boy and one of the girls and 1820 to 1825 for the other girl. This conflicts with previous writings. In previous writings it is stated there were four children born to John and Patsy before 1820 with Ann Scalf (first child) being born 1811 and John Scalf (second child) born 1814; Fielding Scalf born 1816; and William Scalf born 1819. I have been unable to find anything that suggests that John Jr. and Patsy were married before 1820 and Patsy contradicts this date in her statement in Hawkins County.

Although I seriously doubt the first three children belonged to John and Patsy, It is possible that William did. If John’s family left Floyd County, Kentucky between 1810 and 1820 and came to Russell at that time, John and Patsy may have been married shortly before 1820 but I’m not sure they were married by 1810. Patsy states she had known the family for about twenty-five years and this statement was made in 1845. This calculates to the year John is found in the Russell County court records of 1820. 

No doubt, Patsy could have been off by a few years but I doubt she was off as much as would be needed to calculate the births of the other three children beginning in the year 1811. I believe this William to have been the husband of Talitha Scalf (aka Tabitha) in Hawkins County, Tennessee in 1840. William’s age could have been stated wrong on the 1840 census as well. He might have been the son in the home of John Jr. and Patsy in the 1830 census of Russell County listed less than 5 years old. If so, he was born after 1820-1825 and not in 1819 as other censuses suggest.

It would be logical to assume that the five boys on the census of 1830 were Lee, Ira, Peter, Robert and Jesse and this could be true. Berryman was likely not in the home on this census and was probably already in the Washington County, Tennessee area where he married Rebecca Page just one year later. By the enumeration of the 1840 census of Hawkins County, Tennessee, John and Edy have no children in the home. 

The 1830 census of Russell County also suggests that the youngest boys had not been removed from the home as well, or if they had, John had gotten them back. Another interesting aspect of this is the fact that all the boys were born by 1820 according to the Russell County Court Minutes. The youngest child in the home in 1830 was born 1815-1820.  This establishes the fact that all of the boys were born before 1820.

If the female age, 5-10 was actually a daughter of John and Edy, then she was not listed in the court records as having been removed from the home. This would certainly be strange if John and Edy were not able to care for their children. Why would only the boys be removed? Of course, a girl had no need to learn a “trade” but if the family was destitute the girl would have been removed to a family that could care for her as is related in other cases of the times. This fact also suggests that only the physical work the boys could provide was the reason for the removal and not merely to help the boys learn a “trade.” If this girl was an infant at this time, and was in fact, a daughter of John and Edy she was born before July of 1820 and in view of this fact, Cecilia was not born after 1820.

1830 Russell Co. VA census

Scalf, John             Est’d birth

2 males     10 – 15     1815 - 1820

3 males     15 – 20     1810 - 1815

1 male      60 – 70     1760 - 1770

1 female     5 – 10     1815 - 1820

1 female    15 – 20     1810 - 1815

1 female    50 – 60     1770 – 1780

The records of Russell County, Virginia do not record any incidents for the Scalf family between the years of 1830 and 1834 other than the appointment of Brittan Scalf as surveyor of the road between the Clinch River and Reeds Valley in place of Jeremiah Couch who had previously been appointed. 

May 7, 1833 — page 17

Ordered that Brittain Scalf be appointed Surveyor of the roads from the South bank of Clinch River to the Reeds Valley road in the room of Jeremiah Couch, and that Henry Dickenson gent do furnish him with a list of Tithables.  (Russell County Road Surveys, May 7, 1833, pg.17)

It was around this time, 1832-1834 that John’s sons, Robert, Peter, and Jesse left Russell County, Virginia for Clay County, Kentucky.  An interesting twist to this story was learned from an elderly gentleman in Scott County, Virginia during the very early years of this research.  At this time, I had never heard of these names and had no clue who this gentleman was talking about. 

This gentleman knew a good deal of the history of the neighboring counties of Russell, Lee, Wise and Scott.  We met at the courthouse in Gate City, Virginia one day while researching wills, deeds, marriages, etc.  Being friendly and helpful, this gentleman asked if he could help me locate some records. In the course of conversation, the Scalf name was mentioned and he began to tell me of a legend that had been passed down through his family over the years. 

What was recalled of the legend revealed that three Scalf brothers had been connected to some “trouble” in one of these counties and had fled the area.  They were later found to be living in Kentucky but since there were no formal charges pressed, the authorities were not involved.  He recalled that it had something to do with some folks in one of the local counties who owned a good deal of land and had been known to take advantage of some free labor through the courts. 

The family of these boys had been fighting with these folks for a number of years.  These three brothers had come upon some of these men in the hills in the midst of “something illegal” but the gentleman could not recall (if known) the details of what illegal act was. (Moonshine still?) Words passed between them and one man fired a shot in the direction of one of the Scalf boys barely missing him and “threatened to kill the whole family.” 

The three boys managed to get the “upper hand’ on the situation and had given them a good beating, threatening these men to leave their family alone or “things could get worse.”  The Scalf boys were able to get away from them.  However, these men gathered some relatives and friends and planned to catch the Scalf boys when no one was around and as he quoted,  “watch them swing.” 

One of the friends of this group happened to be a friend of the Scalf boys and had overheard a plan taking form by these men and immediately warned the boys. The three boys had then taken off across the mountain into Kentucky. The gentleman did not know if there was any more trouble after this or not but he knew no other details of the story.

Whether this is an accurate account of the legend or whether the story changed over the passage of time, is unknown. Details often get turned around or confused with time and this is a “legend.” The only names mentioned were “three Scalf boys.” At this time, I had not heard of John Scalf Sr. or his children. I also did not know that my

ggg-grandfather, Berryman Scalf, was a son of John Sr. until much later.  On this particular day, I was searching for information about a great aunt, and trying to track the family prior to her.

This man knew no first names or last names of the families involved other than the Scalf name. He did know that the last name was Scalf and the reason he could recall it so well was due to the name Scalp, which he thought, was SCALP. He suspected that one of his ancestors could have been one of the men that threatened them or possibly one that warned them (hoping it had been the latter) but he did not know which.  He repeated the name as Scalp and I explained to him this was a common mistake in this area. 

I wrote down the story but passed it off as something to look into later if needed. Later on, while reading the Scalf Family History and Chronicles of the Scalf Family, I realized this could have been none other than Peter, Robert and Jesse Scalf. The gentleman did state “three Scalf brothers.”  At that time, I had no idea how valuable this information might be later. 

I have not come in contact with this gentleman since that day and he may possibly be deceased by now, as he was quiet elderly at the time. Being new at family research, I failed to even ask the man’s name. I will never forget his kindness in helping me lift the large, heavy books in the courthouse and explaining how to track backwards in the records. Many folks such as this gentleman have helped in my research.

Since that time, I have learned different accounts of many things that took place in the surrounding area of Russell County area that may have had some bearing on what was happening to the Scalf family as well as other families of the area during this period in our history.  However, out of respect for descendants of all involved, I see no need to repeat these things for we are certainly not responsible for the actions of our ancestors.   

By July of 1834, trouble was brewing for the Scalf family once again, for on July 12th John Jr. was charged with passing a counterfeit coin in payment to Richard B. Long of Russell County. 

It was probably sometime in this year that Ira Scalf and Rosannah Gibson were married. Although it is not known where Ira and Rosannah married, it was most likely in Russell County and Rosannah was probably from one of the numerous Gibson families of Russell County, Virginia. The Gibson family is an old family of Russell County and numerous descendants still live in the area.

July 9, 1834 — page 155-156

At a Court called and held by the Justices of Russell County at the Courthouse on Tuesday the 15th day of July 1834, for the examination of John Scalf jr., of Russell County for feloniously passing in payment to Richard B. Long in said county on the 8th day of July 1834 a certain false, forged and counterfeit piece of silver coin current within this Commonwealth of the denomination of 50 cents United States coin dated 1829 with intentions in so doing to defraud the said Richard B. Long, he the said John Scalf then and then knowing the said piece of coin to be false forged and counterfeited.


James Browning, John Jessee, Harvey Gray, John Sewell, and Cummings Gilmon gentl’m. Justices

The prisoner was brought to the bar and by his counsel, moved the Court to quash the warrant issued by the Justices for convening this court and to discharge the prisoner, which motions the court overruled;   Whereupon Sundry witnesses being sworn and examined as well for as against this prisoner, it is considered by the Court that the said John Scalf for the felony aforesaid ought to be tried in the Circuit Supreme Court of Law and Chancery of this county, and thereupon he is remanded to jail.

Richard B. Long and Robert Boyd of this county came into Court and acknowledged themselves indebted to Littleton W. Tazewell Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Sum of $100 each, of their respective lands and tenements goods and chattels to be levied and to the said Governor and his Successors for the use of the Commonwealth to be rendered Yet upon this condition, that if the said Richard B. Long and Robert Boyd shall severally make their personal appearance before the judges of the Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery of Russell county at the Court House on the first day of the next term to give evidence in behalf of the Commonwealth against John Scalf jr. Charged with passing counterfeit coin and shall not depart thence without the leave of the said Circuit Court, then the recognizance is to be void.

                                                                                         James Browning

(Russell County Court Minutes, July 9, 1834, pg. 155-156)  (pg 155) (pg. 156)

It appears that John Jr. was detained in the Russell County jail until September 16, 1834.  The case was heard on the 17th for the record states that court was adjourned on the 16th until noon the next day.

September 16, 1834 — page 295

John Scalf junr. last of the County of Russell, laborer who stands indicted for feloniously passing counterfeit coin, was brought to the bar in custody of the Keeper of the Jail of said County, was thereof arraigned and pleaded not guilty to this indictment, whereupon came a jury, to wit; Isaac Munsey, Charles C. Gibson, John Price, William Pippin, George Dickenson, Samuel Honaker, James Necessary, Henry Necessary, John Necessary, James Jessee, James Shoemaker and John B. Fickle, who being elected tried and sworn the truth of and upon the promise to speak, and having penalty heard the evidences even with the consent of the prisoner committed to the custody of the Sheriff of the County, who is directed to keep them together without communication with another person, and to cause them to appear here on tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock.  Whereupon, an oath was administered to Robert Boyd deputy Sheriff of the County, to the following effect.  “__ shall well and truly, to the best of your ability, keep this jury, and neither speak to them yourself, nor suffer any person to speak to them touching any matter notation to this trial until they return into court tomorrow.”  And the said John Scalf jr. is remanded to jail.

Ordered that the Sheriff summon 24 persons qualified according to law, to attend the Court here on tomorrow, as jury men.

Ordered that the court be adjourned till tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock.

                                                                                               B. Estill.
(Russell County Court Minutes, September 16, 1834, pg. 295)

September 17, 1834 — page 297

John Scalf jr. last of the County of Russell, laborer, who is indicted for feloniously passing counterfeit coin was again set to the bar, and the jury yesterday sworn for the (?) of the case were brought into court by the Sheriff and having fully heard the evidence upon their oath do say that the Defendant is not guilty as in pleading he hath alleged: whereupon proclamation being made as the manner is and nothing further appearing or being alleged against the said John Scalf, it is ordered that he be discharged from his imprisonment.
(Russell County Court Minutes Sept. 17, 1834)

This was an expensive case for the Scalf family and John Sr. had no money to pay an attorney to represent his son.  The attorney handling the case was also a prominent attorney and his fee would most likely have been “high-dollar.”  This record states that John Jr. was a laborer, which indicates that John Jr. was working for someone else and probably had less than John Sr. to pay an attorney.  However, the records suggest that John Sr. apparently borrowed money to pay the attorney fee to represent his son.  By this time, John Sr. owned land in Russell County and possibly managed to do this by leaving Russell County to work in the Clay County Salt Mines after his first conflict with John Smyth, Jr. in 1820.

December 2, 1834 — page 186

An indenture in Trust for land and personal property from John Scalf to Edward D. Kenan acknowledged in the clerks office.  (Russell County Court Minutes, Dec. 2, 1834, pg. 186) (Link-John Sr-December 2 1834))

By July of 1835, another record was recorded in the court of Russell County concerning John Sr. However, John had sold out in December of the previous year to Edward Kenan. In July of this year, the records relate that John Blizzard, a constable, obtained an attachment against the estate of John Scalf Sr. for debt. John Blizzard was probably acting on the authority of the attorney who represented John Jr. in the counterfeit case. John had hired G. W. Hopkins to represent John Jr. in his counterfeit case.

July 7, 1835 — page 250

John W. Blizzard having obtained an attachment against the estate of John Scalf senr who intended to remove his effects out of this county, for debt, and the constable having made return that he had attached of the property of the defendant, one cow & calf and bull, two pair of hames and one pair of drawing chains, about 8 or 9 bushels of corn, one old side saddle; this day came the plaintiff by his attorney, and the defendant being solemnly called came not.  Whereupon came also, by his attorney, Ira Scalf, who claimed the cow and calf and corn aforesaid attached and filed his interpleader, to which the plaintiff replied and issued being joined came also a jury, to wit: William Sargant, John Garrett, John Belchor, Vincent Jessee, Joel Fields, Abraham Campbell, Elihu Kizer, Thomas Gibson jr., James C. Gibson, Charles H. Gilmon, John B. Fields and Henry Gillespie, who being sworn diligently to inquire into the right of said property, upon their oath do say, that the right thereto is in the said Ira Scalf.  Therefore, it is considered by the Court, that the plaintiff pay to the said Ira Scalf his costs and it appearing that the defendant is indebted to the plaintiff $19 due by note, it is considered that the plaintiff recover against the defendant the said sum of $19 with interest thereon to be computed after the note of (?) per centum per amount from the 12th day of April 1835 till paid, and is costs in this behalf expended.  And it is ordered that the Sheriff make sale of the residue of the said property, as the law directs, pay the proceeds thereof to the plaintiff, and return an account of such sale to the next Court.  (Russell County Court Minutes, July 7, 1835, pg. 250)

From this record we can deduct that Mr. Blizzard thought the property he had found belonged to John Sr. Apparently, he did not know that John had sold out in December of the previous year. The above records show that John had sold his land and personal property to Edward Keen. The old Soldier had apparently had enough of Russell County.  It had caused him nothing but debt and grief since his arrival. John apparently cared a great deal for his family as he put everything he had in jeopardy to help his son, John Jr., in the counterfeit case against him. 

The year 1835 appears to have ended the trouble for John Sr. in Russell County for no further records of Russell suggest that John was still living there.  Had he still been living there, no doubt there would have been further confrontations.  It is interesting to note the names, which appear frequently concerning the charges brought against John and his family.  No other names in the neighborhood of John Sr. seemed to appear in the charges.  John Smyth was overseer of the poor and the first to bring charges against John Sr. in 1820.  This seemed to create a domino effect from the year 1820 through 1835.

The exact relationship of Patsy Counts to these families is yet unknown.  Elizabeth Bush, sister of Valentine Bush, married John Gose, a relative of Stephen Gose. Court proceedings also took place between this family and the Scalf family.

The families involved had marital connections to each other for many years.  Further research into the relatives of Patsy Counts might reveal possible reasons for this “feud.” These records appear to support the statement made by Patsy Counts Scalf in Hawkins County concerning the reasons behind having John Scalf’s pension revoked.  

For whatever reason, Patsy’s relatives in Russell County, Virginia were carrying a grudge that eventually led to the revocation of John Sr.’s pension.  It appears that this grudge began when John brought his son, William, back home after John Smyth, Overseer of the Poor, had ordered the children removed from the home. 

This animosity placed John Sr. and Edy in a desperate state of poverty in their old age.  By 1835, John Sr. had wearied of the battle. John had lost everything that he did own due to debt concerning the court costs and lawyer fees.  John decided to close this chapter in his life and move down to Hawkins County, Tennessee where he would apply for his military pension and start anew. No doubt, John had no idea the problems of Russell County, Virginia would continuously haunt him for the next eleven years of his life. 

Copyright (C) 2002-2008 by Margaret Fleenor, All Rights Reserved.