I recently came across a box of pictures I’ve been looking for over the past ten years. We’ve moved three times in that period of time and I happened to look in a box at the top of the closet, and there they were. Here’s one that was a tin-type photo of my Civil War veteran great, great Grandfather William M Perry and some other men who are probably his brother and who knows who else. Grandpa has the bushy moustache.
There is something special about looking at these ancient faces. You see a very human side of these folks, people of whom I’ve heard stories all my life, some of which I’ve posted in this blog.
Grandpa Perry was known to have joined the war effort in a way that pitted him against his own father and brother. The family was divided during the War, but afterwards they came back together. His war wound was a hole in his hat, made by a stray bullet during a battle. The divisions of war were forgiven afterwards, and the brothers married women who were cousins to each other, and raised families in the Reconstruction era economy, creating a life out of timber and bricks. It was Grandpa Perry who built the homeplace in Scott County, Virginia, around 1893, a house where at least four generations of the family gathered. His brother, Uncle Cliff, took upon himself the brick-maker’s trade of his father, employing a freed slave whose family had been part of the household before the war. Both men attended Morrison Chapel, which had become a preaching place for two denominations, the northern and southern Methodist denominations, taking turns each week with a preacher from one of the two churches, and taking turns annually with Sunday School literature. This “Union” arrangement continued until the two denominations merged with each other in 1939.
Grandpa’s choice of a bride brought Elizabeth Ann Sandidge into the family. She was raised on Possum Creek in Scott County, at the head of Stanley Valley. Here’s a picture of the young lady when she had begun being a mother and wife:
She was one of three girls and had three brothers, but only one sister made it to adulthood with her, all her brothers died before the War. Her sister married Harvey Tarter and gave birth to Virginia Tarter before she died. So Grandma Perry became the sole survivor of the Sandidge family and gave birth to a large family including four girls and four boys. Before meeting and marrying her husband, she found herself subject to the powerful grace of God in a meeting held at Morrison Chapel in 1857, describing herself “Borned of the Spirit,” which is seen as the beginning of that congregation, since she and a neighbor boy, James Green, both had been converted in the old log building that George Morrison had donated to the Methodists six years earlier. She would request to be buried beneath the floor of the old building when she died in 1900, immediately after the opening of the new building.
Another picture shows her with three of her grandchildren close to the time of her death.
Her father’s work had included a mill he tried to run “on the waters of Possum Creek” in the years immediately preceding and following the Civil War. That there are at least four attempts to finance this operation on the books in the court house at Gate City indicates he wasn’t able to make a go of his efforts. His wife’s inheritance of land further up the Holston River from Possum Creek was how the family got to the area where I was raised. This land had been purchased by Frederick Akard as early as 1807, several years before Scott County was formed, and when the governing county was Washington County. Records are in Abingdon, Virginia.
Not only did the family leave Stanley Valley for their tract of the Akard property, but apparently they purchased several of the tracts owned by other Akard children, including Aunt Polly Akard, whose home was the original homeplace. This log house stood across the old road in the place where gardens were nurtured in my childhood. The story was told many times of how a kitchen wing was built onto the back of the log building, and when Grandpa Perry built the new house in 1893, the kitchen wing was rolled on logs across the road to the back of the new building. In 1943, when the State of Virginia built the new Gate City/Kingsport Highway, the old wing was dismantled and the materials were incorporated into a wing that was built onto the front of the home, effectively making the back the front and vice versa. Some of the old doors and windows survived until the time of my grandmother’s death in 1999, at which time the windows were replaced and the house was covered in vinyl siding.
After Grandmother Perry passed away, Grandpa Perry found a new bride, Mrs. Amanda Sivert Jones. The interesting thing is that her family had moved into the Sandidge’s old home in Stanley Valley. So, he effectively went back to the same house where Grandmother had been born and raised to get his second wife. Here’s a picture of the two of them in the earliest decade of the twentieth century:
The two of them are buried in Morrison Chapel cemetery beside Grandmother Perry. Grandpa died in 1921. Amanda had died a few years before him.
Grandmother Ketron (Elizabeth Virginia Janette Perry), who was the youngest daughter, moved into the homeplace and helped keep Grandpa in his old age, as she raised her family. But we’ll save that story for part two.
The last picture is a picture of the old Sandidge place which I took about 1982 or so. It’s completely dilapidated now, and probably won’t be standing at all in a few years. But the size of it shows something of the original grandeur of the old place.