Faces From the Past: A Scott from Scott County

There is an advantage to living somewhere that has a similar name to your own.  People think you’re important.  For a minute or two.  It’s just hard to hold the tongue in cheek without snickering.

So here is my admission:  I am a Scott from Scott County.  There, you have it.  What’s it mean?  I dunno.

There isn’t a lot to get excited about, the Scott family I’m kin to left Scott County by the late 1800s and moved elsewhere.  If my Daddy hadn’t met up with a Scott County gal in High School after his family moved to Kingsport, TN, I wouldn’t be able to claim being a Scott from Scott County, but it probably wouldn’t matter a great deal either.  We were not entirely incorporated into the county.  We lived within the clear boundaries of the county, yet we lived south of the North Fork of the Holston River (one of the most beautiful streams in America) and within sight of the Tennessee State Line, and that meant we had to get our mail from Kingsport, Tennessee, and when telephone service came, we got a Kingsport phone.  I grew up so mixed up I didn’t know where I was from.  I attended Scott County, Virginia schools, and had to call long distance to speak to my friends (which was forbidden by the way, since it cost money and that wasn’t flowing real freely in my childhood, even though our basic needs were met pretty well).  I attended church in Tennessee, and we took our tobacco to Weber City to the Cozart Tobacco Warehouses.  It was in our humble home by the Gate City/Kingsport road that I began to wonder about how our family got there and who our ancestors were and why I would later develop a small patch of red hair in my beard among all the other colors.  Well such is the life of a Scott Countian with the name Scott.

Who compose such a curious tribe?

My Dad in his teenage years

My Dad in his teenage years

I’ll work my way backwards.  I was born to a Norton, Virginia native whose name was Norman Howard Scott.  He and I share middle and last names.  I’d like to publicly thank my Mama for not naming me Norman, Jr.  Daddy was a salesman at Sears, Roebuck, and Company.  He died at 43 and left my mother a widow to raise two children, my other sister having married a few years before.  I was sixteen, my middle sister was twenty-one.  That’s all I’m going to say about that, as I’ve written more of the details of his death elsewhere.

He played football for Lynn View High School (the Lynxes), and went into the US Air Force for two years as a medic, stationed in Rantoul, Illinois, at Chanute AFB.  My sisters were born there.  That’s why I call them Yankees to this day.  Upon his return to Kingsport area, he and mom moved into a house in Morrison City, north of Kingsport, and he worked in the Kingsport Press until they went out on strike in 1963.  I was born nine months after the strike (more or less, my mom argues that point, but I am a proud Kingsport Press Strike Baby).  After that he sold Vacuum Cleaners for Kirby and later got in a sales position selling Kenmore Vacs and Sewing Machines at Sears, which he was doing at the time of his death (although he was in the furniture dept by then).

He was the son of John Wilmore Scott and Eva Inez Amburgey.  They were married in Letcher County, Kentucky, and raised their family in Norton before leaving that town for the big city of Kingsport when my dad was a boy.  Pappaw Scott was a mechanic.  He was real good at taking things apart, and sometimes got them put back together.  But he worked for years in different mechanic shops before retiring.  I remember him as a great gardener who loved to act a fool and work on cars and worry his wife to death about not going to church (she would sic the Deacons on him regularly).  He got a colored TV once and messed with the knobs on it so much that one son, my Uncle Rodney, who was into electronics, made him a little silver box with knobs and lights on it.  He was chastised to spend his time messing with that whenever he wanted to adjust the set.

John W Scott and wife, Eva close to their 50th wedding anniversary.  L-R: Bob, Rodney, Duane, Conrad, Norman (my Dad), and on the front, Reda

John W Scott and wife, Eva close to their 50th wedding anniversary. L-R: Bob, Rodney, Duane, Conrad, Norman (my Dad), and on the front, Reda

James P Scott & Martha J Smith Scott with their stair-step kids.

James P Scott & Martha J Smith Scott with their stair-step kids. John W Scott is the second boy from the left on the back row.

He was from a family of several children, parented by James Patton Scott and Martha Jane Smith.  Here’s where the Scott County connection begins.  James Patton Scott was born in the Clinch Valley near Speers Ferry, Virginia, and raised in the little community at Drakes Gap close to Fairview.  He tells of his exploits on the Clinch and elsewhere in his own memoirs which he wrote down before his death in 1963.  One time his daddy was plowing corn along the river and James and his brother Will were playing near the river.  James was up on the swinging bridge, and Will was in the river taking a dip when he lost his footing and began waving his arms and signalling he was in trouble.  James screamed for his father who left the team and came running to the river and saved Will from drowning.  What is incredible about this story is that George C Scott, the famous actor, would never have come to be if Will had drowned, for he was his grandfather much later.  James P. accompanied his father and family to Wise County in the 1890s where his dad ran a post office at a place called Kimbo, and James worked at farming, selling apples, and sawing lumber.  After raising their family in the Hurricane section of Wise, Grandpa and Grandma JP and Martha Scott moved in their old age to Kingsport to be near their kids.  They lived off Memorial Boulevard and they are buried in East Lawn Cemetery.  Grandmother Scott was said to descend from Arter Dale, the Mingo indian whose tale of being given to Patrick Porter to raise by Chief Logan has been speculated about for years.  She looks a little Native.

James Patton Scott in a younger picture (son of Lilburn)

James Patton Scott in a younger picture (son of Lilburn)

Martha J Scott, James P Scott, and Martha's sister, Julie Smith Riner

Martha J Scott, James P Scott, and Martha’s sister, Julie Smith Riner

James’ father was Lilburn Scott who married Mary C Berry, from “Berrytown” as it is called, south of Drake’s Gap.  Lilburn was also born in Scott County, and raised with his brother Hamilton Scott in that same community.  Their father died at an early age, so the boys were raised by their grandparents, Andrew J Speer and Margaret Ingram Speer.  Their mother married a second time to a man named William B Gilreath, and raised a family with him, somewhere around New Melody Church.  Lilburn and Hamilton created a close bond.  Hamilton married a Bostic from the neighborhood and settled across the state line in Hancock County for a while before deciding to go west to Missouri.  Lilburn went with him and helped him build his cabin, but finding the place unsuitable for himself, he high-tailed it back to the mountains and soon moved over to Wise County where he remained the rest of his days.  The Lilburn Scott family first lived in a house near Mary C’s parents, which has been torn down sometime in the past two decades.  Later Lilburn became a local physician, known to have carried an old-style Dr’s bag, and his wife Mary was known to be a mid-wife, using herbs in her healing methods.  He often traveled back from Wise to visit Oliver Berry and some of the other family, and was known to spend a lot of time playing checkers with them.

Lilburn Scott

Lilburn Scott

Lilburn Scott House, pic taken about 1975

Lilburn Scott House, pic taken about 1975

There aren’t any more pictures, but the general run of the family tree goes like this:

Lilburn’s father was James G Scott, born in North Carolina, and moved to Scott County, Virginia in the 1830s.  He married Peggy Jane Speer, daughter of Andrew and Margaret.  James died young, at only 27 years of age.  He had lived in the Drake’s Gap area and was thought to have been buried on the land of Ben and Malinda Taylor (Malinda was Peggy’s sister).  James was the son of Jesse and Sarah Kerr Scott, who were from Surry County, NC.  Jesse had sold his right of inheritance to his brother prior to his father’s death in 1838, and moved to the Clinch Valley in Scott County, settling somewhere in Hunter’s Valley area, we are told.  It is not clear if Sarah traveled there with him or he came without her, but he remarried in Scott County to a widow by the name of Polly Singleton (nee Mary McKnight), a native of Ohio.  They stayed for a few years before migrating into Kentucky, leaving behind their sons James and John, who had married into the Speers family.  Jesse and his new wife settled around Harlan, on Ketron’s Creek, and they raised several more children there.  The song made famous by Patty Loveless, “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” was written by one of his Kentucky descendants.

Mary C Berry Scott

Mary C Berry Scott

We can go back one more generation, to Leonard Scott, who lived near the base of Pilot Mountain in Stokes County, North Carolina, south of Mt Airy.  Leonard’s origin is not well-documented, and many theories are circulating, but most researchers favor a theory that he came from Virginia and descended from a line of Scotts who first landed at Maryland.  It is assumed they have a Scottish background, but that could be argued.  Leonard married Nancy Martin and raised several children in the Stokes and Surry County areas.

There are some who try to place Leonard with a Daniel Scott, either as a son or brother, and Daniel is known to have married a Poindexter woman who was kin to an Indian Chief.  That claim was made in an application by one of Daniel’s descendants for recognition as part of the Cherokee tribe in 1907, but was rejected for lack of proof.  But the Pilot Mountain Area was host to a tribe known as the Saura Indians (from whom some suspect “Surry” got its name).  Most researchers spurn this tale as fiction, but we have been told for generations we have indian blood, and not just on Grandma’s side of the family.  Perhaps we’ll never know for sure.

Follow this link for more on the rejected application of Charles Phelps:  http://pages.suddenlink.net/phelpsdna/Charles%20Marion%20Phelps%20Sr%20Cherokee%20application.pdf

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About Brad Scott

An Appalachian CrossFitter who loves Jesus and is happily married to Tammie. I have a son and a fine little grandson. In the peak of middle age, trying to figure out the rest of this journey.
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1 Response to Faces From the Past: A Scott from Scott County

  1. James scott says:

    We are related. My grandfather was Will Scott whose son was my father George Dewey. I am half brother to George C.

    I came upon your article while research ing my GGF Lilburn.

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