Category Archives: Features

Col. John Floyd was killed too soon

Jadon Gibson

Col. John Floyd, a frontier surveyor, was one of the leading pioneers of Kentucky. He was one of five brothers, three of whom were killed by Indians. Two of his brothers-in-law shared a similar fate. They weren’t victims of bad luck but of the times in which they lived.

Col. Floyd was riding with his brother Charles on April 10, 1783, on his 2,000 acres called Floyd’s Station, just outside of present-day Louisville, KY. The Indians were intent on repelling the settlers from the land on which they lived and where they hunted for many years but they had not been pesky during the winter months. The Floyd brothers weren’t on a heightened alert and didn’t suspect danger. They were fired on by Indians making their early spring raids and Col. Floyd was mortally wounded. Continue reading Col. John Floyd was killed too soon

The Wreck of the Old 97

Jadon Gibson

The Southern Railway earned a lucrative contract to haul mail for the United States Post Office well over a century ago. In order to continue the agreement they were required to transport large quantities of mail from location to location, intact and within certain time restraints, that is it would have to be delivered in good shape and on time.

One of Southern Railway’s engines, locomotive number 1102, was a 10 wheeler built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. It was known officially as Fast Mail but was better known as Old 97. It began its runs from Washington DC to Atlanta, Georgia in December of 1902 and earned the reputation of getting the mail to its destination pronto. Continue reading The Wreck of the Old 97

When the Mississippi River ran Backwards

Jadon Gibson

It wasn’t unusual for Rev. Reuben Ross to attend a funeral in Stewart County, Tennessee, in the fall of 1811. He was a Baptist preacher, elder, and was acquainted with the deceased. It is likely that he preached the funeral.

The service was lengthy and nightfall was eminent when Rev. Ross completed his sermon, cautioning that death is no respecter of age, person or social status.

“Everyone needs to be ready for the day of reckoning,” the preacher explained. “The end of time is near.” Continue reading When the Mississippi River ran Backwards

Hunting with Elisha Wallen

Jadon Gibson

Elisha Wallen was an early long hunter in southwest Virginia and the tri-state area of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. He was one of the first white men to explore the western wilderness as the area, and points farther west, were called in the mid to late 1700’s. This story is based on Wallen’s conversations with others in that era.

He told about a November hunt in which he fought a large buck for his life, when it rushed him, before he had time to raise his rifle. “I knew the bucks were wild at that time of year because of mating season,” Wallen later opined. “But I’d never seen one, or heard of one, acting that crazy.” Continue reading Hunting with Elisha Wallen

Life and Times of Clifton Branham, conclusion

Jadon Gibson

Life and Times of Clifton Branham, conclusion

Clifton Branham found trouble at nearly every turn after being paroled from the Kentucky State Prison in 1902.

He celebrated Christmas with friends in Clintwood but they were drinking heavily. He decided to return to Pound, VA. as he felt there may be trouble if he remained there. Dave Fleming had been causing him trouble since he returned to the area and soon caught up with Clifton and his daughter on the mountain roadway. Continue reading Life and Times of Clifton Branham, conclusion

Life and Times of Clifton Branham, part 7

Jadon Gibson

Clifton Branham rode a train back to Virginia following his release from the Kentucky State prison in Frankfort. He was met at the Norton Station by David Boggs.

He learned from Boggs that his daughter was in a disturbing situation and that his wife’s judgment was in question. It left him so distraught he tarried a week in deep thought.

“I went into the mountains to pour out my soul to God in prayer,” he wrote in his journal. “Oh, I felt that if I had wings I would flit away through the blue skies to a brighter mansion beyond the skies.” Continue reading Life and Times of Clifton Branham, part 7

Life and Times of Clifton Branham, part 6

Jadon Gibson

Clifton Branham left the area and hid out for two months after shooting Rant Smallwood. Soon he was in trouble again.

“Dark clouds seemed to follow me,” Clifton wrote. “Life seemed to frown on me. I was home with my wife and family when Henry Vanover was killed.”

Authorities felt it was suspicious that Branham vanished almost immediately after Vanover’s murder. He went to Clintwood and then to Johnson County, Ky., where he was arrested. He was returned to the Whitesburg jail and held for trial. Three months later he was found guilty and received a life sentence in the Kentucky State Prison in Frankfort. Continue reading Life and Times of Clifton Branham, part 6

Life and Times of Clifton Branham, part 5

Jadon Gibson

“My Nan belonged to the church,” Clifton Branham wrote in his memoirs in the weeks leading up to his hanging in Wise County, VA, in September 1903. “If I had been as good as she was I would have stayed out of trouble and been a lot better off.”

“I took up making moonshine along with two other men,” Branham wrote. “One is dead now and the other lives on the south side of Cumberland Mountain. We did very well for awhile but the revenue officers started getting pesky. We finally decided to move to the head of the Kentucky River.” Continue reading Life and Times of Clifton Branham, part 5

Life and times of Clifton Branham, part 4

Jadon Gibson

“My Nan belonged to the church,” Clifton Branham wrote in his memoirs the weeks leading up to his hanging in Wise County, Va., in September 1903. “If I had been as good a man as she was a woman, I would have stayed out of trouble and been a lot better off.

“I took up making moonshine along with two other men. One of them is dead now and the other lives on the south side of Cumberland Mountain. We did good for a while but the revenue officers starting getting after us. They became so pesky we decided to move to the head of the Kentucky River. They would have to go to a lotta trouble to find us there.” Continue reading Life and times of Clifton Branham, part 4

Life and times of Clifton Branham, part 3

Clifton Branham ran away from home when he was 12 years old. He returned to the area near Pound, Virginia, when he was 16. His folks were surprised to see him. He learned that his father had bought a piece of land and built a house on the top of Cumberland Mountain.

Our mountain area was wild and sparsely populated in the years following the Civil War.
Continue reading Life and times of Clifton Branham, part 3

Life and times of Clifton Branham, part 2

Jadon Gibson

In the weeks leading up to the hanging of Clifton Branham in Wise, Va., in 1903, the doomed man spent hours writing about his life.

Clifton was born on Cabin Branch in Letcher County, Ky., in 1861.

“It was the year the Civil War broke out that I was born,” Clifton wrote. “Two of my brothers were in the war. My father was a farmer but when the war came along it got him into it too. He was captured and taken to Camp Chase. He was kept there until the end of the war.” Continue reading Life and times of Clifton Branham, part 2

The Life and Times of Clifton Branham

Jadon Gibson

Branham last man hanged in Wise County, Va.

There wasn’t much suspense leading up to Clifton Branham’s trial for killing his wife. There were eye witnesses to the shooting and even Clifton admitted to the killing.

Clifton was a guitar player and Wise County Sheriff Wilburn Killen allowed him to have his guitar in jail. He played it often in the weeks leading up to his hanging. When he wasn’t picking the guitar he was busy writing. Unlike his incarceration in the Kentucky State Prison in Frankfort where he became a heavy reader, Clifton spent a lot of his time in the Wise County jail with pen in hand. Continue reading The Life and Times of Clifton Branham

Sgt. Alvin York – East Tennessee Sharpshooter

Jadon Gibson

In the early morning hours of October 18, 1918, American forces in the French forest of Argonne were in a nearly impossible position.

The American offensive was attempting to push through the German defense to the Decauville Railroad, a major supply artery to the motherland.

As the sun burned away the morning mist, the “All America” 82nd Division was bombarded by artillery and heavy fire from entrenched German machine guns lining the tops of hills in three directions. Continue reading Sgt. Alvin York – East Tennessee Sharpshooter