The Final Journey

By the year 1846, John, weary of the battle, made the journey into Greeneville, Tennessee where he stated his case one last time to Andrew Johnson. Very old and destitute now, John was probably tired and wearied from the long battle with the Pension Commissioner.  His son, Berryman, probably drove him in a wagon that day to the town of Greenville, Tennessee. The records indicate that John and Edy were living alternately with their children. Berryman lived approximately, 20-30 miles from Greeneville. This would have been a good day’s journey from Berryman’s home in a wagon.

It is unknown where John met with Mr. Johnson that day in Greeneville, but it was probably at the little tailor shop, which still stands in the town of Greeneville. Mr. Johnson was known to have spent the majority of his time at this location when he was in Greeneville. Mr. Johnson took pity on John’s frail health and age and immediately sent a request to Mr. J. L. Edwards in Washington to ask him the same questions that had been asked for the past seven to eight years. One would surely get tired of answering these questions at some point but apparently Mr. Edwards did not.

A letter from Mr. Edwards on January 1, 1846 suggests that Mr. Johnson had left some papers at Mr. Edward’s office and I am assuming this had taken place on one of Mr. Johnson’s trips to Washington.  These papers were in connection with the case of John Scalf Sr. What existed in these papers is unknown to me for they did not exist in the pension file of John Scalf Sr. Only a statement from Mr. Edwards stating they were being returned is listed. (Edwards to Johnson 1846)

A letter was sent to Mr. Edwards from Mr. Johnson on a date that is illegible, but the month and year is January 1846.  This document states that Mr. Johnson knew the reputation of some of the men involved in this case and gave his recommendation concerning their characters.  Mr. Johnson also stated that he had no solitary doubt upon the subject and that John had been “too long deprived of his pension upon the vague surmise of some malicious persons in his neighborhood.”  He also stated that John was living upon the charity of his neighborhood and he solicited Mr. Edward’s attention to the old man’s case. (Johnson to Edwards-1846)

In March of 1846, Mr. Johnson sent another request to Mr. Edwards. This is not stated on the document but a copy of the jacket for this document states: to Mr. J. L. Edwards.

Mr. Johnson requested that a copy of the bounty land certificate for the alleged bounty land received by John be sent to him. For reasons unknown, it appears that Mr. Johnson determined from his investigation that John had not received this bounty land for Mr. Johnson took the matter one step farther and on June 12, 1846, he presented a motion to the committee in Washington. This motion reads as follows:

By Mr. Andrew Johnson: A petition of John Scalf, of Hawkins county, and State of Tennessee, praying for a grant, of two-hundred and ninety-seven acres of land on account of his services during the revolutionary war in the North Carolina continental line: which was referred to the Committee on Revolutionary Claims.”  (Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1789-1873--FRIDAY, June 12, 1846-Library of Congress, Pg. 948)

This action suggests to me that Mr. Johnson determined from his investigation that John had not received any bounty land and was therefore requesting what he felt was due John Sr.

No documents were found in the pension file of John Sr. to suggest anything relating to this action or that John had requested bounty land.  It is possible that this correspondence was lost or was not included in the pension file.

Whatever took place between Mr. Johnson and Mr. Edwards that was not included in the pension file, certainly proved to be effective for John for on January 28, 1846, it was ordered that John’s pension be reinstated. A record of the date of correspondence is the only document that relates information concerning this.

Mr. Edwards had sent a letter to Mr. Johnson and one to Mr. Lyons at the Knoxville Agency with a copy of the pension certificate.  Mr. Edwards also noted on this record of correspondence that the certificate Mr. Johnson had requested from the State of North Carolina concerning the bounty land was furnished to Mr. Johnson along with the date. This does confirm that Andrew Johnson received the information from the state of North Carolina concerning the bounty land certificate.

In response to Mr. Edwards, a letter from Mr. William Lyons of the Knoxville agency was sent to the pension office requesting to know whether to pay Mr. Scalf from March 4, 1838 or from the date of “your last letter” which would have been January of 1846.  This document is faded on one side but reads clearly enough to understand what it consists of.  (Wm Lyons to pension office-1846)

Notation is made on the correspondence record of a letter sent to the Knoxville agency on April 6, 1846.  It is unknown what this letter may have concerned but may have been the confirmation of the pension restoration.

Notation is also made of a letter to Mr. Johnson on March 16, 1848.  This may have been to inform him of the death of John Sr.; however, this is only speculation, as this letter does not exist in the file.

John had spent the last seven or eight years pleading with any Justice of the Peace that would hear his story and many did. The family had spent money they could not afford and some of the clerks had sent letters without charge out of pity for the old soldier.

In a matter of only twenty-seven days, the influence of one man proved to carry more weight than the influence of the man who had the pension revoked. For years, malice and vengeance had caused an old soldier to be deprived of his rights and his honor. The honor of being a soldier in the war that established the freedom of this country was mangled but not destroyed. John Sr. rose to meet the occasion as he had at the battle of Guilford. John Sr. had not rested until the record was set straight. When most would have given up in the face of these disappointments, John persistently continued the battle.

Although the pension was restored, it is unknown if John received any amount of back pay for the lost years. The records do not reflect that he did.  John did receive $80.00 in the year of 1847.  However, in the year 1848, as it had ten years prior, the pension abruptly stopped again as it had in 1838.  The old soldier had given up the battle for good. Oddly enough, John had received his pension for the same amount of time as when it was first re-instated. John received the installments for one year when he was first admitted to the rolls. After the pension was restored, he received the installments for one year before he died.

On March 10, 1848 John Scalf Sr. closed his eyes in peace knowing that he had won the battle, as he had the first battle as a child in 1777. John was due a check in this month and he may have received this or he may not have. A note in the pension file reflects that he did not.

A note had been sent to the Knoxville Agency requesting to know when John was paid last. A note is dated March 9, 1848 from the Knoxville agency to the Pension Office stating that John had been paid to 4 September 1847 at $80.00 per anum.  John Sr. would die the day after this letter was written. The first installment for the year of 1848, due in March was most likely not received. If it had been, it would have been returned.  (Knoxville Agency-1847

The battle was over for John; however, his wife Edy would have to face a few of the same trials with her widows pension as John had faced previously. Edy did not have the problems to the extent that John did but Edy was not physically able to go to the courthouse to make an oath in order to submit her proof of being the widow of John Scalf Sr. (McVey to Pension Commissioner)

This statement was sent to the Commissioner of Pensions. Edy was required to make her statement under oath and somehow Edy managed to do this. At this time, the Justice of the Peace stated that Edy was between 80 and 90 years old. Edy was unable to remember by now the date when she had married John. She stated she knew she had been married to John “not before he entered the service but before 1800.” (Statement of Edy Scalf)

Mr. James Cleek, who had been a neighbor and knew the couple in North Carolina made the statement that he knew they were married in Edgecombe County, North Carolina where he had lived and had known them at that time. (James Cleek-1851)

Most of the documents concerning Edy are documents that relate to her movements after the death of John.  Each time Edy moved, the agency where she received her check would have to be changed.

By the enumeration of the 1850 census of Tennessee, John Jr., Ira, William and several of the families from the 1840 Hawkins County census   were living in Claiborne County, Tennessee.  Claiborne had been formed in 1801 from parts of Grainger and Hawkins Counties.  Grainger had been formed in 1796 from Hawkins and Knox Counties so it is evident that these families had moved from Hawkins to Claiborne and was not due to county boundary changes.  (1850 Claiborne Co. census)

Edy was now living in the home of her son, John Jr. and his wife, Martha “Patsy” Counts Scalf.  Ira and his family were living nearby.  Ira had married Rosannah Gibson 1830-1834 and they most likely married in Russell County, Virginia. Several epidemics hit the area during the 1850s and Ira lost his wife, Rosannah, and daughter, Pacify, in this epidemic.

It is unknown if any of the other Scalf, Trent, Collins, Lockhard, Painter or Williams families lost family members during this epidemic. According to the death records of Russell County, Virginia, this epidemic wiped out complete families during this time and Russell appears to be one of the hardest hit areas. Many families lost two and three children on the same day along with a parent and sometimes both parents and all the children. 

The records suggest that Edy lived with her son, John Jr. It is reported that she went to Clay County, Kentucky to live with Ira and his new wife, Nancy Killion McVay sometime after 1854. It is not known if Edy died while living with Ira or if she died at the home of one of her other sons. 

The last record I have from the pension file concerning Edy is dated 1854. On February 19, 1854, it was requested by John Elliott that Edy’s check be made payable at Louisville, as Edy had moved to Knox County, Kentucky. Edy would have been around 85 years old at this time. John would have been around 84 or 85 years old at his death if he was born in 1765 or 1766. Edy stated in her deposition that her husband was about four years older than her. This would calculate a birth date for Edy of 1768 or 1769. (Elliott-Feb. 19, 1854)

The Scalf Family History, by Elmer Scalf, states that Edy was living in Knox County, Kentucky in 1857 where she sold her bounty land of 160 acres. This can be found in the Chapter of John Scalf Sr. Revolutionary Soldier. Elmer states that she lived on until about 1860 and possibly in the home of her son, Peter Scalf who had moved to Knox County from Clay County, Kentucky. If this is correct, Edy would have been around 91 years old at her death.

This lady had suffered a tremendous amount in her 91 years but had stood by her husband and her family through all the trials and tribulations that afflicted them. She had witnessed this country in its infancy and then as an independent nation in her lifetime. She gave birth to sixteen children, losing two of them and her husband. She lived to know of numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  This lady had survived during the toughest aspects of frontier life and lived to recall it.

John Sr. does indeed deserve the honor bestowed upon a Revolutionary Soldier, but the faithful woman at his side also deserves as much honor for her undying dedication to him and her family.


The counties of Washington, Greene, Hawkins and Sullivan join at a point on Chimney Top Mountain and are noted in the very early land deeds of survey in the records of Sullivan County, Tennessee. Chimney Top was once known as “Craggy Point.” 

Very fond memories of Chimney Top are brought to mind when studying the old records of the Sullivan/Hawkins/Greene/Washington County areas.  Many hours were spent on the top of this mountain as a child with my dad who often wondered back down memory lane and talked of the “old folks” while we sat on the “Chimney Rocks” on top of the mountain. These rocks present an unbelievable picturesque view of all these counties.  Hours on end were spent almost every Saturday in the summertime on top of Chimney Top listening to stories of the old folks as my dad strolled down memory lane.  No doubt, this is where the “genealogy bug” took the first bite.

Our Saturday trips to Chimney Top consisted of a stop at Dawson’s Store on the Horton Highway that leads to Baileyton, Tennessee.  Here, my brother Doug and I would buy soda pops, potato chips and candy while my dad would look around for sandwich meat and various things suitable for a picnic.  We would then drive up to the Chimney Top Church where the cemetery is located and where we attended church on Sunday.  My dad’s family members were all buried here with the exception of his father. 

Every Saturday, we would tour the cemetery where my dad would once again repeat the stories of the deaths of his two little sisters, his mother, and other family members. He would point out the graves to us as if he was afraid we would forget who these folks were and exactly where each grave was located.  There were no markers for some of the graves and he had written their names on paper and covered them with plastic.

He would place these in the old funeral home markers that were left on the graves by the funeral home. No headstones had been placed for these folks, as money was scarce for the family at the time of their deaths.  He was very persistent in keeping the dates and names available. The paper was changed often as the elements would destroy the writing and render them illegible. After his death, with the help of the funeral home and the skills of the husband of a cousin, my cousin and I placed concrete markers for these family members with the names and dates embedded.  

At this time, I didn’t know why my dad told us, repeatedly, the same things every time we went to the cemetery but looking back, I’m certainly glad he did. 

After we toured the cemetery we would cross the hollow just over the hill and make our way down by an old home place known as the “Holiday House” and up the hill to the road that led to the climb to the mountain.  Across the road we would climb the bank and go through the barbed-wire fence and up another steep hill to the top where it opened into a flat, grassy field.  This area held the remains of some of the Scalf ancestors as well as other families of the area.  My dad had been told that some of his ancestors were buried here but he did not know who they were. 

At one time, fieldstones had been placed at the graves for markers but over the years, different families had owned land in the mountain and one family had run cattle here.  The fieldstones used for grave markers were now scattered about the field and he could no longer remember exactly where they had been placed.

These family members had obviously lived before his father and grandfather because his grandfather’s family was buried in the cemetery along with my grandmother, my aunts and uncles that had passed on. The family members of the previous generation were accounted for along with my grandparents in the Chimney Top Church Cemetery so these members would have been from at least, the generation of Berryman.

One day, while reading some old deeds of Berryman Scalf it suddenly occurred to me that the old foundation near the top of Chimney Top where my dad had pointed out as Berry’s home place, had been the home of Berryman Scalf. This story had confused me as a child but now it was clear. This home was located in Greene County, Tennessee. 

We always climbed the mountain on the Greene County side and the old cabin had stood just beneath the Chimney Rocks but located at a distance so as not to be exactly under them.  Just across the mountain are the counties of Hawkins and Sullivan.  Greene and Washington Counties are located on the side we had climbed. I knew this at that time, but as a child it meant little to me. My dad told us constantly that we could go from county to county in just a few steps but that made little sense to me at that age.  I didn’t even know what a county was! I thought it was exciting though because he made it sound that way.

Although I have no documentation for support, it is here that I believe John Scalf Sr. was visiting when he died on March 10, 1848 and it is here, either in this mountain, or in one of the graves at the base of the mountain, that John Sr. may also have been buried.

The pension file states that John died in Greene County while visiting his son.  His son, John Jr. lived at Byrd’s Corner during this time and Ira was living in Claiborne County as well.  Sons, Jesse, Robert and Peter were living in Kentucky.  Sons William and Brittan had died.  Although Hawkins County was just across the top of the mountain from Berryman, Byrds Corner was a good distance from Chimney Top and would have probably required at least a day’s travel. 

The fact that no embalming methods took place in those days leads me to believe that John may not have been taken back to Byrd’s Corner. John also was living alternately with his children, which suggests that John and Edy had no home of their own. In this case, there would have been no reason to return to Byrd’s Corner for burial.

Funerals were often held in a short time before the body began to turn.  This would have probably taken place within two days after John’s death.  Mountain custom in Appalachia and in other areas at that time as well was to hold a “wake.”  The family would sit up all night with the deceased and in some cases, the deceased was buried the next day depending on whether it was hot or cold weather.  John Sr. died in March.  Although March would not be considered a cold month in this area, it would have been cool. Possibly cool enough to wait for the family members to reach Berryman’s home in time for the burial. 

If families lived away and were traveling a good distance, the body would lie in state for another night and then burial took place the following morning unless the weather was very hot. In this case, the deceased was often buried the day after the wake whether family arrived in time or not.  A message was probably taken to John’s children in Claiborne County as well as Kentucky but most often, letters were written to families residing in other states.

During this time, bodies were usually buried near the location of their death. The children in Kentucky probably knew nothing of the death of their father until later. It is possible however, that John’s body was returned to Byrd’s Corner, but unlikely. My conclusion to this is based on a study of the time-period and personal knowledge of the Appalachian area.

Births and deaths were not required to be recorded during this time.  For this reason, there is no death record in the Greene, Hawkins, Sullivan or Washington County area for John Sr. and we do know that he died in Greene County by Edy’s statement in the pension file.

Whether or not John Scalf Sr. is buried at Chimney Top Mountain or whether his remains rest at Byrd’s Corner is something we can only speculate. However, this man left a remarkable story for his descendants. He left a story of pride, persistence and a never-ending persistence to restore his character and honesty.

Although poor, he appears to have been a man of honor.  He did not give up the battle until the record was set straight. He had the courage at a very young age to fight for his country’s freedom and through his pain and efforts we claim the freedom he fought to help establish.

One hundred and twenty-four years and twenty odd days later, another veteran of WWII, his great-great grandson, Ira Bernie Scalf (my dad) was laid to rest in the Chimney Top Baptist Church Cemetery.  Beside my dad is his son, my brother, James Harvey Scalf (Viet Nam era) the ggg-grandson of John Scalf Sr. died 140 years after the death of John. Many other Scalf veterans have descended from this Revolutionary Soldier and some gave their lives for the freedom this man fought to help establish.

He was most likely crippled to the point he probably could not care for his family as well as others, but the records reflect that he indeed loved his family and his family loved him.

Regardless of how one might perceive the man, or what he may have done or not done, the records produce the evidence that John Scalf Sr. was a Revolutionary Soldier and for this he deserves as much honor and respect as any veteran that has laid down his life for his country.

NOTE: My database for the descendants of John Scalf Sr. and Edeah Carlisle will be posted as soon as the updates are added that many descendants have sent. This will be done as time permits.

Your patience is greatly appreciated!

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