Mountain Scribes
By Bonnie S. Ball


Mountain Scribes
By Bonnie S. Ball

     In the steady march of progress and industry one is prone to lose sight of the characters who frequently stand on the sidelines recording the events of history. Some were poets who discovered the beauty of the area and the genuine character of the sturdy mountain people. Others sought to preserve the folklore of past generations, and at the same time, introduce their readers to the new phases of industry, education, music, and literature through contemporary news media. There are those who possessed the quality of humor, and whose with and wisdom delighted their readers, while others chose to stress the more abstract principles of integrity, charity, and the essentials of christianity.
     Many of these have already been eulogized in our society's publications. Elihu Jasper Sutherland, Luther F. Addington, and James Taylor Adams were undoubtedly the most prolific of our mountain writers. Their massive volumes and files are in our archives and area libraries. The two first mentioned of
these men were busy individuals who held full-time professional jobs until retirement. J. H. T. Sutherland spent much time at his desk writing in the educational field, and was co-editor of Dickenson County's Diamond Jubilee History. D. B. Holyfield of Wise County was also once an active columnist. Dr.

Goodridge A. Wilson in his column for the Roanoke Times, frequently wrote lucid articles in his day about the Cumberlands. Few persons in more recent years have influenced the reading and listening public of Dickenson County to a greater extent than the late Remire Sutherland. Others of Southwest Virginia

include: R. M. and H. M. Addington of Scott County; Mrs. Ada Grace Catron of Lee County; Lundy Wright of Dickenson County; and Hannibal Compton and H. Claude Pobst of Buchanan County; Pres Adkins, Carl Knight, Lindsey Horton and others of Wise County; and we might add, an adopted son of the area, John Fox, Jr.

     Now, don't get me wrong, not all the literary artists of our area are dead. Those who went before have not pushed their pencils and pounded their typewriters in vain. Others have taken up the torches and are going on as contemporary columnists and authors. There are many, so please forgive me if I omit some. There are Dr. Leland B. Tate, James Hagy, Gordon Aronhime, Clarence B. Kearfoot, Sr., Edgar S. Fraley, Bruce Crawford, E. Malloy Counts, former residents of the area; William (Chide) Wright who wrote of "Devil John" Wright, Mrs. Vera Duff Gilmer of Russell County, Dr. E. L. Henson, Emory L. Hamilton, Rhonda Roberson and Nancy Baker of Wise County. Roy V. Wolfe and Omar Addington of Scott County; Mrs. Anne W. Lanningham, Mrs. Hattie Bales, Mrs. Hazel Joyce and Mrs. Vicki (Peters) Gaddis of Lee County. Mr. Roy Sturgill of Bristol, Virginia, Dr. Dennis Agay, Ralph Rasnick of Norton, and last but not least our own Hampton Osborne, Glen Kiser of Grundy, Burrell Payne (Sports), Bill Anderson, Mrs. Hetty Sutherland of Clintwood, A. A. Skeens, Jr., of Clintwood, also William Martin, Mrs. Gaynelle Malesky (Verse) of Norton, and doubtless others.
     It is encouraging to know that our area history and literature will not die with our generation. Gregory Vanover of Clintwood is said to be compiling a genealogy. Ms. Mary Clement Kiss, daughter of the late Dr. H. W. Clement of Coeburn, has been on the staff of the Kingsport Times for more than twenty years. Andrea Tayloe of Sandlick majored in journalism and is now (1979) with a publishing firm in Georgia. Miss Jeanne Powers, a daughter of Kline and Negetha Powers, is a graduate of Clinch Valley College and has won a fine reputation in poetry.
     If we investigated those int he field of musical composition, we would be surprised to find quite a few from the Southwest corner of Virginia. Among these are: the Carter Family of Scott County, the Stanley Brothers, Bluegrass musicians of Dickenson County, and our own Dr. Joe Smiddy of Clinch Valley College. Mrs. Dolly (Rose) Mullins of Clinchco has composed some of her own music, and is in the field of religious music. Also we have the Clinard Belcher family of Haysi.

Mountain Scribes

     At this time I shall present as briefly as possible, the biographies of two natives of our area who were men of great potential and talent, but as different as day and night. The first was little known to those born after 1920, and the second would be hard to forget.
Frank Monroe Beverly

     Beverly is an ancient English family name and local tradition indicates that an Elijah Beverly was the common ancestor of the Southwest Virginia clan, and that his ancestors emigrated from Hull, England prior to the Revolution. The available account of this lineage was provided by Professor Walter F. Beverly, a
former teacher in the John Marshall High School of Richmond. He is a direct descendant of the first Elijah Beverly.

     A John Beverly had come to York County, Virginia in the 17th century, but later moved to North Carolina as a planter and surveyor. Among other children was a son named Elijah. This Elijah married Mary Freeman in Orange County, North Carolina. In 1794 he settled in Grayson County, Virginia, went back to North Carolina for a brief stay, then came back to what was Wythe County in 1801. In 1809 he was living in Tazewell County, Virginia. It was here that his son Elijah, Jr., was born. Later they moved to Pike County, Kentucky. Elijah and some of his children later moved back to Virginia and he spent his last
days near Coeburn (then known as Guest Station and in Russell County). He die din 1835 at Castlewood, and was buried at Coeburn.

     Elijah Beverly, Jr., son of Elijah, Sr., bought a large tract of land on Honey Camp Branch and Longs Fork. His wife was Nancy Hamilton, a daughter of Schuyler Hamilton, and one of their sons was William Walter Beverly. He married Elizabeth Gentry and built their home on Crabtree Branch. Here their first child was born on January 2, 1857, and was named Franklin Monroe Beverly.
     The family, with the grandfather and other members of the Beverly Clan moved to McDowell County, West Virginia in 1860, but they still did not escape the harrassment of lawless and thieving bands from both sides during the Civil War conflict.
     In 1867 the family returned to their old home where William Walter put up a grist mill on the Cranesnest stream, and ground corn into meal for the neighborhood.
     Prior to 1870, Virginia had no public schools, but Frank Monroe Beverly managed to attend the few subscription schools available in the area. The free schools came to Wise County in 1871, but it was hard to find qualified teachers. In 1874 the family moved to a little village called Freeling. Young Beverly had
advanced further than the teacher selected, so he was permitted to attend school at Darwin under the instruction of Mr. French. He gradually made the acquaintance of books which were his real love for the rest of his life. He decided to become a teacher, and qualified by taking a teacher's examination at Gladeville (Wise). While he later left the teacher profession, he never lost interest in schools and learning.

     Frank Monroe Beverly inherited some of his ancestor's wanderlust. He became a regular moving van after his marriage to Mary Jane Fleming in 1882, but never left Dickenson County. He was essentially a farmer, but was not too fond of tilling the soil. Yet his environment and growing family left no other choice. At times he enjoyed the pastoral life, which inspired some of his most vivid writings.
     The Frank Monroe Beverly family finally settled in a rural community near Clintwood, called Flemingtown, and remained until 1902 when they sold the farm and moved to George's Fork. Eight years later they moved to Osborne Gap. He had succeeded in establishing a post office at a place called Dwale. Around 1910 they moved to a spot at the mouth of Cutter Creek where they lived until 1924. Here Mr. Beverly became Postmaster of the settlement, and it was called the Freeling Post Office. He called his home "Bonnywicket", where among the hemlocks and rhododendrons, he spent his last days.
     The only time he deserted the farm was in 1907, when he moved to Clintwood to edit and operate the local newspaper. Three months later he moved back to his rustic paradise, leaving the burdensome chores of running a newspaper to his sons.
     His wife was a granddaughter of "Holly Creek" John Mullins, the first settler of Clintwood. Their children were: Claude F. and Walter Egbert Beverly; Mrs. Cora Carrico; Mrs. Nellie Blye Todd-Davis; Mrs. Augusta Agee. Edgar R. Beverly, a teacher, Cedric Sylvester Beverly, and Fitzhugh Sewell Beverly.
Walter E. Beverly was a printer at Rocky Mount, Virginia and Fitzhugh S. Beverly was publisher and editor of the Dickenson County Herald for some years, and continued in the printing business for the rest of his life.

     Frank Monroe Beverly wrote poetry, short stories, sketches, essays, news items, and letters; no one will ever know how many. They appeared in magazines and newspapers, many were placed in scrapbooks, some were lost or destroyed. It is probable that not more than half his poems, and even less of other materials are in the family collection.
     In 1926, Bruce Crawford of the Coalfield Progress visited "Bonnywicket" and readily understood Mr. Beverly's ability to report news items so well, since patrons of the tiny post office arrived continually with odd and exciting stories. Most of all Mr. Beverly resented some of the editor's revisions. One day he said to a friend: "They evidently think we are deformed cranks and monstrosities. I sent them a germ of that story and look what they made of it! A bias and unfounded reflection on our whole people!"
     He had no training. His verse was the gift of God. He wrote more than 500 poems that were published here and there - Courier Journal, Richmond Times Dispatch, Roanoke Times, Richmond News Leader, The Sunny South Progress, and many others. He received dozens of letters from editors and appreciative

     At the age of 60 Frank Monroe Beverly expressed his desire to publish a book, but the path of a writer is no easy one. It was eleven years before his ambition was fulfilled. He was aided, advised, and encouraged by his staunch friend, Elihu Jasper Sutherland. At the outset Mr. Beverly had difficulty in getting a borrower to return some of his scrapbooks. More than a hundred of his poems were copied. Local papers carried advertisements.
     After numerous complications and delays the books finally arrived from the Shenandoah Publishing House at Strausburg, Virginia. They reached the Fremont Railroad Station on May 16, 1928, and on the following day, Mr. E. J. Sutherland placed 50 copies in his Ford car and drove over to "Bonnywicket." When he laid the first copy into the unsteady hands of the ailing poet he slowly examined the new covers and gold inscription. Lovingly he opened it. His hands no longer shook. His face was radiant and his failing eyes shone with new brilliance. Tears filled them as he extended his feeble hand and said softly, "This is my day. I am happy!"
     So great was Mr. Beverly's love for books that he had accumulated 5,000 volumes in his home. As his end approached he requested that some of the surplus books be donated to area colleges and libraries. Some were sent to the State Library in Richmond. He died on July 1, 1929 at "Bonnywicket." Notices of his death eventually reached the desks of editors near and far, who responded with beautiful tributes to the deceased Beverly. Wrote the editor of The Richmond Times Dispatch: "In his death Southwest Virginia has lost one of its more interesting and picturesque figures."
     So, with the passing of a mountain poet, his "Echoes of the Cumberlands" survived to be enjoyed and appreciated by others.

Herbert Maynor Sutherland

     Herbert Maynor Sutherland, a son of George and Rosina Skeen Sutherland, was born near Nora in Dickenson County, Virginia, in 1893. After attending the area public schools he entered Concord College, a Prep school at Athens, West Virginia, and graduated in 1911.
     Afterward he worked in and around lumber camps in that state, where he acquired the nickname of "Joy."
     In 1913 he enrolled at the University of Richmond, and by his senior year he was editor-in-chief of the Richmond Collegiate. He graduated in 1917 with a bachelor of Arts Degree and was employed by the Richmond daily papers until he enlisted in the U. S. Army in March, 1918. He served overseas during World War I, principally in France, where he sustained wounds, and was honorably discharged in 1919. He was hospitalized at Walter Reed Hospital for a period of time in Washington, DC.
     Afterward he enrolled in the School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York, where he received the degree of Bachelor of Literature in 1921. Then he worked for the New York Globe and after it ceased publication he worked for the New York Times. 
     In 1924 his health failed and he returned to Dickenson County to recuperate. There he spent his time hunting, fishing and writing. In 1929 he entered a short story contest sponsored by True Story Magazine and won first prize.
     He was married in 1930 to Miss Irene Draper, a teacher of Big Stone Gap. They are survived by a daughter, Rose Ella Sutherland who is now a teacher at U. S. Army base in Germany.
     During the 1930's, Mr. Sutherland became interested in local politics, and was elected for four terms to the Virginia House of Delegates.
     In 1939 he acquired the Dickenson County Weekly and named it The Dickensonian. He published a column each week called "Tales of the Tall Timbers," which was read and enjoyed all over the country, and by the men in service all over the world during the 1940's and 1950's. This column included stories told to him by friends and associates in the Appalachian area. His tall tales were published (after his death in 1867) in a volume called "Tales from the Devil's Apron." It was brought out in 1970 by the Commonwealth Press of Radford, Virginia. In conclusion I shall quote one of his tall tales:
     "Hit seems as though all the young'uns had come on time to school 'ceptin Bizziness Bill's youngest boy, Leetle Ike, and he come in 'bout two hours late...wall, Leetle Ike he come in late long after books had done tuck up, an' Miss Samanthy she jumped on Leetle Ike a-wantin' to know how come he was so late a- gittin; thar. Wall, hit's kinder like this, Teacher. Las' night we'uns had done gone to bed. The chickens out at the hen-house started squawkin'. Fer the last week or so thar's been a pole cat er fox atter 'em, and they's been a-roostin' in that persimmon tree behindst the house. 
     "Pap, he jumped outta bed in his onderwear, an' grabbed his ol' double barreled shot gun, and headed outta the house. I follered 'im out thar as quick as I could git my britches on. Pap was a-standin' thar onder th' tree, lookin' up to see ef'n he could locate th' varmint that was atter th' chickens, but hit wuz too dark t' see much.
     "'Bout that time Big Howdy, our ol' hound-dog, come out t'see whut th' ruckus was about. He come up behindst Pap, an' stuck his col' nose 'ginst Pap's bar skin. Pap he let out a yell, an' jumped 'bout six feet straight up in th' air, an' he let off both barrels uv that thar shot gun at th' same time. Hit rained chickens all over th' place, an' me and Ma've bin pickin' chickens ever since."
     Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, published by The Historical Society of Southwest Virignia, publication 13 - 1979, pages 14 to 19 

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