Grandpa Perry was born in central Virginia, in Louisa County. His family traveled down the valley of Virginia to the mountainous section and eventually settled near Bluff City in Sullivan County, Tennessee. His dad was a brick layer, but before leaving Louisa County, had been listed among the slaveowners there. It is possible he had inherited this designation, as that was common in those days. Grandpa Perry was a young man when the Civil War broke out, and living in east Tennessee, he had to have been aware of much division over the issues leading to that conflict. He differed from his own father over whether the Confederacy had a right to pull out from the federal government. His slave owning father was a unionist, as was his brother, Uncle Clifton.
So Grandpa, after the fashion of 18 year-olds, took up arms against his own brother and joined the 19th Tennessee Infantry at Cumberland Gap, for the confederacy. There are trace accounts of his activity therein, but summaries work best. He survived with only a bullet wound to the hat. Afterwards, he came home and married a young lady from Scott County, whose family had settled there in 1807, along “the waters of Possum Creek” (whence cometh the title of this blog).
After the war, Grandpa moved his family to Aunt Polly Akard’s place on an unnamed creek that today runs along US Highway 23 between the Tennessee State Line and the North Fork of the Holston River near Weber City, Virginia. Here he raised a family of three boys and four girls who lived to adulthood, as well as some children of his extended family. He cleared the trees off the land and made enough money for a modest farm house to be erected in 1893.
His youngest daughter married a young man from Bloomingdale, across the state line in Tennessee. They came to live on the place along with Grandpa after he was widowed the second time. In exchange for keeping him in his old age, they got to keep the house, farm, etc. Only problem was, this young man, my Grand-daddy Ketron, was a Republican. Stories do not exist about the tensions that were surely in the air when that first became known, but it must not have caused a problem because they made an agreement one year that since Grandpa Perry was a Democrat and his son-in-law a Republican, they just wouldn’t vote. Senseless to do something like that, waste that energy, when all they would be doing was cancelling each other’s vote. So, assured this was the best way, they went about their daily chores unscathed by the politics of that election day, whatever issues those were.
The son-in-law, being young and energetic decided to head out to fix fence. He was up on the hillside overlooking the farm, stretching barbed wire, when he looked back down to the house, tin shining in the morning sun. There was Grandpa Perry getting on his horse, and heading out toward the Tennessee line. No problem, he thought, probably going to visit a neighbor or something.
Wrong. Grandpa Perry, still loyal to the Democratic party, and sure his son-in-law wouldn’t catch him at it, rode up Carter’s Valley in Tennessee, crossed back over into Virginia, crossed the river at Wadlow Gap and rode on over to Gate City and cast his Democratic vote. He didn’t come back until after dark, so as to keep his Republican son-in-law from retaliating.
I never heard who won that election, but the Democrats had the edge that year at the old home place.