Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wise County, VA Early Records

Works Progress Administration of Virginia
Historical Inventory
This write-up is a part of the Virginia W. P. A. Historical Inventory Project sponsored by the Virginia Conservation Commission under the direction of its Division of History. Credit to both the Commission and W. P. A. is requested for publication, in whole or in part. Unless otherwise stated, this information has not been checked for accuracy by the sponsor.

Research made by James Taylor Adams – Big Laurel, Virginia – December 28, 1937.

SUBJECT: Ely Boggs Home
LOCATION: At the mouth of the Mud Lick Fork of Callahan Creek, one mile north of Andover, five miles north of Appalachia.
DATE: About 1820.
OWNERS: Ely Boggs; Elihu Boggs; Boggs Heirs; Virginia Coal & Iron Co.
DESCRIPTION: This is a two story log building, but not weatherboarded or ceiled, with a landing stairway from the hallway to the four rooms above, with a left turn. The windows are with shutters only, no glass. There is a porch in front and on the rear.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The exact date that Ely Boggs settled here is not known, but it is believed that he came into this section about 1820. It is known that he was “building a new barn in the year 1844”, which indicates that he had lived there long enough to have made necessary a larger building for the protection of his stock.

Ely Boggs owned large boundaries of land on Callahan Creek and its tributaries and on the southern slope of Black Mountain, and it is believed that his patent lapped over on Cumberland River, for he moved in late life to Cumberland River and died near Eolia.

He is remembered for his part in the slaying of Alexander Goins on the Nine Mile Spur in November, 1844. In family tradition Boggs is represented as being the man who led Goins into an ambush from his (Boggs’) home, where Goins had sought friends and protection. Goins’ grave is in a bottom a few hundred yards from the site of the Ely Boggs home.
ART: None.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION: Informant: William Boggs. Court Records, Wise County, Virginia.


Posting from Crystal Laschon on:

Excerpt from RUGGED TRAIL TO APPALACHIA by Mary T. Brewer, A History of Leslie County, Kentucky and Its People:

While Eli Boggs was living in Wise County, Virginia, tradition has it that he was implicated in the murder of Alexander Goins, a man of the Melungeon people of southwest Virginia and Tennessee. The story is told here to show how pioneers dealt with horse thieves.

The murder supposedly took place on a ridge of Nine Mile Spur of Black Mountain, known as Goins' Ridge, and about 300 yards northwest from where Mud Lick Creek empties into Callahan Creek. Eli lived in a bottom just west of the grave site of Goins.

James Taylor Adams visited the grave in the 1930's and placed the date of the tragedy around November 10, 1844. The following account was written by Mr. Adams, and given for history by Emory Hamilton of Wise, Virginia.

"The grave is now, as shown by the head and foot stone, twelve feet long by actual measurement. It is now enclosed by Interstate Railroad property fence. Mystery has always surrounded Goins' grave. That is why it has attracted so many visitors.

There are two traditions of the killing, both of which seem to have been accepted as historical facts by different writers. First, the one handed down through the Church family, who were residents of the immediate community at that time, and second, the one handed down through the Maggard-Craft, who lived in Kentucky a few miles across Big Black Mountain (and who have Boggs ancestry).

The Church tradition, and it has the backing of the descendants of Goins, is that Alexander Goins was a respectable trader, dealing in fine horses, which he drove from Kentucky to South Carolina to sell. He supposedly lived in what is now Lawrence County, and operated a race track and breeding farm at Louisa.

On one of his trips, and as he was returning home, he was ambushed on Callahan creek near the present mining town of Stonega, and escaped to return down the stream to the home of Eli Boggs, where he had stopped on other trips through the county. Boggs was a member of the ambushing party, and the next morning he offered to show Goins a nearer way up Nine Mile Spur. Where trails crossed, the robbers awaited their coming, and as they approached, shot Goins. his horse became frightened and Goins fell dead from his saddle near the mouth of Mud Lick Creek.

The descendants of Goins tell about the same story, only that he was on his way to South Carolina to buy horses, instead of returning, and that he carried $9,000 in cash, and that a young man, named William Holbrook, who had been employed by Goins to help him drive horses from South Carolina, played sick, not able to go on the last trip, followed him and led the band who killed and robbed him. This tradition finds substantial strength in a Holbrook family tradition, which tells us that William Holbrook had been employed in the Big Sandy country of Kentucky by Alexander Goins and on one trip he discovered his employer wasstealing horses instead of buying them, quit him enroute south, and arrived at an Uncle's house in North Carolina on Election Day in the month of November, 1844.

The Maggard-Craft tradition finds support in the Holbrook tradition, as well as in the Goins tradition. It says that Alexander Goins was a horse stealer; a bad man in every respect. The late John P. Craft, a respected citizen of Wise, Virginia, says that Goins stopped overnight with his grandfather Maggard on Cumberland River the night before he was killed on Callahan Creek, and that when he was getting ready to leave next morning, he pulled down a fine deer skin, and without as much as "buy your leave" he cut it up into stripe, which he hung on his saddlehorn and rode away. The Maggards knew his reputation as a killer and let him go in peace.

Mr. Craft also remembered hearing his grandmother tell of how Goins took two of his Negro slaves, who had displeased him, tied them in sacks with heavy stones and threw them in the Big Sandy River. He believed that Eli Boggs and his neighbors did kill Goins, but that they did it because he had previously stolen their stock, and not for his money....

If anyone was ever legally accused of his murder there is no record to be found of such accusation. The grave was left to the briars and bushes for many years. Before 1908 someone had built a pen around it. More recently it has been fenced in with other parts of the Interstate Railroad right of way.

Gabriel Church, born 1814, a pioneer settler of Gabe's Branch of Roaring Fork of the Powell River, was living near the scene of the tragic incident, and he memorialized the event in a ballad. Church is said to have written other ballads, but this one is the only one in existence:


Come all you young people
Who live far and near,
And I'll tell you of some murder
That was done on the Nine Mile Spur.

They surrounded poor Goins,
But Goins got way;
He went to Ely Boggs'
He went there to stay.

Ely Boggs he foreknew him,
His life he did betray,
Saying, "Come and go with me
And I'll show you a nigh way. "

They started up the Nine Mile Spur
They made no delay,
Till they come to the crossroads
Where Goins they did slay.

When they got in hearing
They were lying mighty still,
"Your money is what we're after,
And Goins we will kill."

When they got in gun shot
They bid him for to san"
"Your money is what we're after,
Your life is in our hands."

"Sweet Heaven! Sweet Heaven!'
How loud he did cry.
"To think of my companion,
And now I have to die."

When the gun did fire
It caused his horse to run.
The bullet failed to kill him
George struck him with his gun.

After they had killed him
With him they would not stay,
They drank up all his whiskey
And then they rode away.

Mrs. Goins she was sent for,
She made no delay;
She found his grave
Along by the way

Go kill a man for his riches
Or any such thing.
I pray the Lord have mercy,
Till the Judgment kills the sting.

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