Tracing Our Roots—a Guided Tour*

            Primarily focusing upon sites along Laurel Branch Road NW (Road 729 / 719), some sites on Floyd Hwy S (221 S) to complete a circle, and a few sites on intersecting roads        

                        *See accompanying map with site numbers corresponding to text.                                                                                       

Repetition of some information and notes to [See #_ ] are intended to add to the convenience of the reader in making connections among the families included in this “guided tour tracing our roots.”

The 19th century American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, once said, “The past travels in us to the future.”  He stressed that we, in the present, must make the effort to remember, record, and share what we learn/know of the past in order that those in the future may know it. In that spirit, I share with you.               –Janet Slusher Keith

           Names highlighted in  green indicate children of the settler, Christopher Slusher, Sr., & wife, Eva             (Hancock) Slusher who settled and developed farms along what is now Laurel Branch Road.

Settlement of area: The late 18th- and early 19th-century settlers of this immediate Topeco area were Hyltons of English background and Weddles, Harmans, Slushers, Harters and Goodykoontzes of German background. Attracted to William Penn's new colony by the promise of religious freedom and a generous offer of land, many thousands of  those persecuted because of their religion came from Europe to Pennsylvania. [His invitation was to persecuted Europeans to come to his "sylva," Latin word for forests; hence: Penn's sylva = Pennsylvania.]  By 1727 there were about 20,000 Germans there; some spread southward into Maryland and then down the Shenandoah Valley after Virginia's decision in 1730 to change her land law. The new law awarded speculators one thousand acres for each family they settled west of the Blue Ridge, so long as they recruited such settlers from outside Virginia. Among the speculators was the German, Jost Hite, in the northern Shenandoah Valley who turned largely to other Germans for settlers. After the Revolutionary War ended and this area (southwestern Virginia) was opened for settlement, the settlers secured land through agents such as Guy Smith who had surveyed and advertised the valuable land along the West Fork of Little River. [Jost Hite's grandson, Isaac Hite, Jr., was "next-farm neighbor" to both Jacob Goodykoontz and Christopher Slusher, Sr., before they sold their lands in Frederick Co., Va., and settled on the West Fork of Little River. See #11; also see Brown & Sorrells' Into the Wilderness, pp. 6-14]

The families of these earliest settlers were large (eight to fifteen children were common) and family members provided the primary labor source for the farms: building barns and homesteads near streams, clearing land and cultivating orchards and livestock pastures, growing large kitchen gardens, grazing hogs in the woods, and growing corn for livestock and for cornmeal as well as growing other grains (wheat and rye) for bread. Social activities involved either church or community work (such as house and barn construction), clearing new ground, harvesting crops, preserving food, hog butchering, or husking/shucking corn. Road building and maintenance were opportunities for the men to get together as they worked to build the area's early roads.  Mills on the West Fork of Little River and its tributaries were valuable sites for sawing lumber, grinding grain and sharing news. While many of the early German settlers continued to speak German, their interaction with their next-farm English neighbors established bonds that forged not only friendships, but also bonds of marriage.



1. Topeco Church of the Brethren   3460 Floyd Hwy S

The first love feast/communion of the congregation of the Church of the Brethren in Floyd Co. was held "around 1800" in Benjamin Weddle’s cabin. [See #3 & pic of the cabin in Kate Weddle Ratliff's Climb Your Family Tree]

The congregation organized as a church in 1845 with ten members; it was the ninth Church of the Brethren in Virginia. The congregation’s Brick Meeting House/Brick Church was constructed 1857 at a cost of about $1300. The congregation contributed $800 and the balance was given by Joseph Weddle and Hardin Price Hylton gr-gr.s/o Elijah Hylton. [See Note in #20]

Note:Offerings were rarely taken up at the church in those days. In preparation for communion, deacons went out two by two to visit members and collect money. Members were asked if they were still in the faith and were living in peace with fellow members. Usually, 35 cents was asked of each man, 20 cents from each woman. If a woman did not have the money, she could give a couple of pounds of butter (which could be taken to a local store for money).

Joseph Weddle  s/o Andrew s/o Benjamin Weddle was foreman of the construction. The land for the Brick Church was donated by Archie Goodykoontz (who was not Brethren but who was supportive of  his neighbors) and Archelaus Hylton m. Catherine "Caty" (Weddle) d/o Benjamin. Archelaus s/o Elijah "of the original pioneer family" also furnished the labor to build the church with bricks made by hand by his slaves using clay and straw. Elijah & wife Susannah's "first home was built on a rolling meadow near a large stream, in the vicinity of what was later to be known as 'Old Brick Church'...and their next home was built about a mile west, at a bold spring among oak trees, bordering on the Pike." [See #65 and see Hazel S. Moore's Hylton Genealogy: From Castle to Cottage, pp.34-35]

Note: Joseph Weddle s/o Andrew s/o Benjamin m. Susannah Bowman {sister of Hannah Bowman m. Elijah W. Hylton s/o Archelaus Hylton m. Catherine “Caty” (Weddle) d/o Benjamin}; Susannah and Hannah were daughters of Christian {s/o John & Elizabeth (Eichenberg) Bowman} & Hannah {d/o Jacob & Susan (Rhinehart)} Bowman.  Christian (b.4/17/1791 in Franklin Co. d.7/24/1867) and Hannah (b.1/25/1793 d.1/21/1886) are buried in the Red Oak Grove Cemetery in Floyd Co. [Names on their gravestones are still legible.] Christian Bowman was a minister and elder in the Church of the Brethren. He donated the land for and founded the Red Oak Grove COB and helped to organize the Brick Church. He was known to have not only served his own congregation, but also been active in the work of his church district. In 1933 C.D. Hylton, a grandson, shared that "Grandfather Christian was not a fluent speaker, but he was willing to do what he could. He made many trips to Raleigh County, now West Virginia, a distance of ninety miles. Here he organized what was later to become the Crab Orchard Church. He would leave his horse at home, putting his Testament and hymn book in his saddle bags which he threw over his shoulder, and would walk this long journey, explaining that the people along the way were too poor to feed his horse." [See Jean Armstrong's Homage to the Past, pp.36-39]

Because the Brick Church had been "located at a low, wet place...the foundation sank in the ground, so there was not much possibility of satisfactory repair" [See p.76, Climb Your Family Tree.] It was replaced in 1895 on the same site by a white wood-frame, weather-boarded church. It took its name, Topeco, from the name for the community's post office nearby. Archelaus Hylton's’ grandson-in-law, James Abraham Lincoln Sutphin [See #66] was the postmaster of Topeco Post Office and had suggested the name—an Indian word he knew meaning “smoky hills.” The 1895 Topeco Church had Elder Harvey Weddle s/o Levi s/o Andrew s/o Benjamin Weddle as foreman of its construction.

The present Topeco Church of the Brethren (situated northeast on the hill across Floyd Hwy S from first sites) was constructed in 1951 with Edmund Weddle s/o Thomas  s/o Elkanah s/o Levi  s/o Andrew s/o Benjamin Weddle as foreman; numerous  additions and improvements have been made since that time. [See pix in Floyd County Historical Society's Images of America: Floyd County, pp. 20,50, and detailed church history in Topeco Church's Heritage Room.]

2. Topeco Cemetery  Land for this cemetery was given by descendants of Benjamin Weddle.                  [See #64 for Old Topeco Cemetery]

Numerous Weddles, Hyltons, Slushers, Harmans, Shelors (and many others) are buried here. Genealogists and historians make use of cemeteries like this one to track ancestors (individuals and families) as they moved across the country. [For names of those interred before 1992, see pp.77-94 Cemeteries: Floyd (Montgomery) County, VA; Burk's Fork District: Volume II, compiled by Phyllis Goad Phillips and Genevieve Cochran Starkey]

          In the yard just beyond the home at 3820 Laurel Branch Road                                                                   3.  Site of Benjamin & Anna Maria (Eiler) Weddle home                                                           

Weddle Family Background:Despite some details that do not fully agree about his early  background, Benjamin Weddle is certainly a revered ancestor for generations of Floyd County descendants. Following are sources which share family tradition and also Calvin Weddle's research which refutes portions of the family tradition.

According to Kate Weddle Ratliff [Kate d/o Abner s/o Isaac s/o Andrew s/o Benjamin Weddle]  in Climb Your Family Tree:  Benjamin Weddle was born 8/21/1742 in America shortly after his mother’s arrival in America.

Dr. Amos D. Wood in Floyd County: A History of its People and Places:  Benjamin Weddle's father was Elijah. Family tradition says Benjamin’s father “who died on the voyage was Elijah s/o Johan Michael” who sailed from Germany on the Francis and Elizabeth and arrived in the port of Philadelphia.

Another source written in the 1970s, Byron E. Harter's The "Frantz Harter" Story , p.32:  "Michael Weddle brought with him...from the banks of the Rhine River in Germany...a large German Bible which is yet in the hands of his descendants. Michael Weddle had a son Elijah who was born in Lancaster Co., Pa. Elijah had a son named Benjamin."  

Family history from some of his descendants recounts that Benjamin Weddle moved from Lancaster, Pa., and fought in the Indian War with Gen. Andrew Lewis’s command in the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant. Colonial Virginia Governor Dunmore decided to sacrifice the Virginians for  "being in sympathy with the revolutionary movement... against the laws of the King's Command" [from Ethel H. Weddle 's The Genealogy of Elkanah Weddle] and sent false strategic information to Lewis. Not believing the information, Gen. Andrew Lewis and Capt. Benjamin Weddle split the forces: Capt. Weddle held the front line and Gen. Lewis gained the rear, and thus surrounded the Allied Indians [under Chief Cornstalk] and won the battle [with great losses on both sides]. Upon hearing of the Indians’ defeat, Dunmore placed a bounty on Capt. Weddle’s head for his part in the victory.

According to Col. Wm. Pendleton (qtd., p.86, in Hazel Moore's Hylton Genealogy: From Castle to Cottage) "The Battle of Point Pleasant, which was won by the Virginia backwoodsmen, was virtually the opening battle of the American Revolution.... [W]on at a great sacrifice in lives, [it] broke the backbone of the fierce Indian uprising  and released troops to go to the coast."  After returning to his home on Horseshoe Bend/the Big Bend/Gunpowder Springs [in present Montgomery Co.], Benjamin learned that Gov. Dunmore’s men were in pursuit and fled with his family (wife and nine children) to the Bent Mountain area. A trained surveyor, Benjamin Weddle is believed to have been the first settler to successfully enter Floyd County [in 1790] by wagon by way of Bent Mountain [although his route was on the opposite side of the valley from the present Route 221 up Bent Mountain. This would have been the route he would have been taking at the time of his death in April 1807]. In 1790 Benjamin settled his family on a tributary of the West Fork of Little River, having been granted/patented (given the right to survey) 1468 acres while Patrick Henry was first governor of Virginia.

Calvin L. Weddle in "The Weddle Family History As I Know It" shares: "According to the Weddle family legend, Elijah Weddle was the father of Benjamin Weddle and Michael Weddle was the father of Elijah; however, in my research, I have not found an Elijah Weddle.  In Martin Wadle’s will which was probated in Botetourt County,  VA,  13 March 1783, Book A, pages 168 and 169, he mentioned '…Benjamin Wadle, my beloved son,' daughter Barbara Pickleshimer and her husband John, and his wife Kathrean.  The will is signed Martin Wettil.  It is believed that Kathrean was a second wife and Martin’s first wife was Elizabeth Wise (daughter of Jacob Wise) of Lancaster County, Pa., and Elizabeth was the mother of Benjamin and Barbara.  See Orphan’s Court Book Misc.1754, Vol. 1742-1760, p.14, Lancaster County, Pa."

Also from Calvin Weddle: "Another part of the family legend I have been unable to verify is that some of the family members died on the voyage from Europe and were buried at sea. The part of the legend involving Michael Weddle is probably the only true part of the legend.  Michael Wetel gave his property to his children as stated in Deed Book A, p. 207, dated 21 July 1756,York County, PA, wherein he mentioned 'my son Martin Wetel of  Lancaster County, my son-in-law Jeremiah Wolf of Lancaster County and my daughter Catherina his wife,  and my son-in-law Mark Farne (Forney) of Manheim Township and my daughter Barbara his wife.' On 24 January 1757, Michael Wetel requested that the deed be recorded."

Calvin Weddle further shares that he has found no proof  to the family legend about Benjamin Weddle's involvement with the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. "Benjamin Weddle’s involvement with the American Revolution was his participation in the militia that guarded the western frontier.  He may have been stationed around the New River area [Horseshoe Bend / Gunpowder Springs where the Radford Army Ammunition Plant / Radford Arsenal is now located] and also at Point Pleasant, which would indicate how that became part of the family legend," but [according to Calvin Weddle] not as result of Dunmore’s War. "Benjamin Waddle is on the 1785 Enumeration of Botetourt County, Va., Joshua Martin’s District, as having nine people in his household, one dwelling house and two other buildings.  This enumeration was taken in February and March 1785 and included a large portion of present-day Floyd County. The family legend further indicates that Benjamin Weddle was granted land by Patrick Henry. In Montgomery County, Va., courthouse, Deed Book B, page 53: 'This Indenture made this twenty Seventh day of February in the year of our Lord one Thousand Seven hundred and Ninety between James Hines of Botetourt County of the one part and Benjamin Waddle of the Sd. County of the other Part, Witnesseth that the said James for and Inconsideration of the sum of two Hundred Pounds to him in hand paid the Receipt Whereof he doth hereby acknowledge hath Bargained and Sold given Granted and Confirmed & by those Presents doth…Sell…Sd. Waddle…Land Containing… Patent one thousand four hundred and sixty Eight Acres…Lying…in Botetourt County on the West fork of Little River adjoining the lands of  William Spurlock, James ?, ? Ritchardson & Elijah Helton….'   Patrick Henry had signed the document Hines passed on to Benjamin Weddle when he bought the property.  Benjamin Weddle had no involvement with Patrick Henry."

[ Note: This indenture/deed was "Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of Andrew Lewis, Sr., William Bryan, and Andrew Lewis, Jr....[and proven] at a court held for Montgomery County July 6, 1790."   Also note: The territory of Augusta County, organized in 1745, extended to the Mississippi. In 1769 Botetourt County was formed; its territory was west and northwest of Mary's River and the North Fork of the James River.  Montgomery County was formed out of Botetourt in 1772; Floyd was formed out of Montgomery in 1831.]

Calvin concluded his "Weddle Family History..." by saying, "I trust the above will show that my Weddle family left Dossenheim, Germany, around 1726 for present-day York County, Pennsylvania, remained there until their move to present-day Roanoke County, Va., sometime around 1778 and to present-day Floyd County in 1790." 

Benjamin Weddle's lands joined the lands of Elijah Hylton. [See #65] A portion ofBenjamin's land was also referenced in the May 30, 1803 deed [in Mont. Co. Deed Book C, p.632] conveying from Guy Smith of Franklin Co. to Frantz Harter for 200 pounds "209 acres on the West Fork of Little River."  Benjamin Weddle was a witness to this deed. On July 6, 1812, Frantz  Harter sold 31 acres to Solomon Harman (m. ElizabethSlusher) for 62 American dollars.  [See The "Frantz Harter" Story , p.10]

Benjamin Weddle's cabin was typical of others of that day: approximately 18-20 ft. by 12 ft. and made of hewn chestnut logs. It had an upper half-story/loft as sleeping quarters, originally accessed by a ladder, for grownups and/or the older children. Later, a fireplace big enough for a man to stand in and a big chimney made of local stone were added at one end, and outside steps, also made of local stone, accessed the sleeping loft. A cellar was underneath and, as the family grew, an additional room and porch were added to the cabin's lower side. Wooden shutters covered its small windows. [See info and two pix of the cabin, supplied by Libbie Moore Blair, that were used on the 12 Oct. 2002 Weddle Reunion program.] A common practice among many early German settlers was to build a small log cabin for their own shelter while large barns for cattle, horses and crops were built; then the cabin would be enlarged to meet the growing family's needs. In some instances, it became the kitchen: either separate from, or connected to, a later larger house.

Benjamin Weddle’s cabin was the site around 1800 of the congregation of the Church of the Brethren’s "first love feast/communion using pewter plates, handmade knives, forks and spoons…and tin cups for drinking the sacramental wine…the men washed their feet on the porch.”  [See  Climb Your Family Tree] The Bible used was the German Bible brought to America from Germany by Michael Weddle. [This Bible is in the Heritage Room of Topeco Church of the Brethren.] This first communion was held long before the congregation's first meeting house, the Brick Church, was built in 1857. Until that time, meetings were held in groves, homes or other buildings.

After Benjamin's son Andrew built his home beside Benjamin's cabin "circa 1810," the cabin and its fireplace were used as a summer kitchen to keep the new house cooler and cleaner.  Later, it was a storage area, and Magdeline d/o Joseph s/o Andrew s/o Benjamin Weddle Spangler kept her loom in it. Deteriorating, the cabin was torn down in the mid-1950s, and its lumber was used to build or repair a nearby barn. Part of the cabin’s stone foundation is still visible at the site; the springtime blossoms of a large cottonwood tree that grows by it may be seen from Laurel Branch Road.  Easter lilies growing by the foundation’s upper side are said to have been there since Benjamin and Anna Maria’s time.  

BenjaminWeddle (b.1751 d.1807) m. Anna Maria Eiler/Oyler (b.1752 d.1834);they had 13 children. German was spoken in their  home.As late as the third generation, an accent could be detected in Benjamin& Anna Maria's descendants’ spoken English. David, Sr., the eldest son, learned to speak English after he was 16 years old. [David 1st m.Margaret Morricle=9 children; 2nd m.Catherine Stigleman (d/o Philip Stigleman)=6 children.]  David settled and built his log home at the site where a later home (still standing) became known as "the Mollie Thompson place."  [See #60] David & Catherine's 6th child, Nancy (b.4/14/1839 d.3/19/1909) m. James Thompson.   [See ref. in #29,#67]   JSK Note: My mother, Malissa Ruth (Gardner) Slusher was d/o Margaret Lillie (Helms) Gardner d/o Joseph Helms s/o Thomas P. Helm m. Mary "Polly" Weddle d/o  David Weddle, Sr. m. Margaret Morricle. Thomas P. was bro/o Jacob Helm/Helms of "Rose Hill"; they were sons of Adam Helm, Sr.   [See #48]

In April 1807, Benjamin died on Bent Mountain on his return from Richmond [at least one source suggests his last trips were likely to Lynchburg which, by then, was connected by railroad to Richmond] in his loaded, covered wagon while holding the reins of his six-horse team [See pic of similar wagon & team in Into the Wilderness, p.31]; he went there twice yearly to buy staple provisions. [Note: Like many other early settlers, he likely took with him trade items such as hides, furs, deerskins, cured hams, chestnuts, etc. He returned with goods they could not produce themselves: gunpowder, lead, scissors and needles, metal cooking and eating utensils, lanterns, wrought iron (to be fashioned into nails, hinges, horse shoes, plow points, etc.),  salt, tobacco, etc.] Benjamin is buried on lower Bent Mountain; his gravesite is no longer known. His young [approx. 16 years old] grandson, Jacob Weddle (s/o Elizabeth Weddle m. Jesse Hylton @1792), was with him, had him buried there, and brought the team and loaded wagon home.  In his Feb. 16, 1807 will [prepared just prior to his last trip] dispersing his remaining 1000+ acres, Benjamin left to Anna Maria “the house and plantation” [about 200 acres], and “after her departure, the land and plantation I leave to my son Andrew, if he maintains his mother and keeps her from suffering” [See Climb Your Family Tree].  Anna Maria lived with Andrew and his family in their home until her death in 1834. She was buried in the Weddle Cemetery; her stone says Annie Mary Weddle, and the stone beside hers notes Benjamin's burial at Bent Mountain [See #62].

Note: The wooden box [12"w x 12"l x 24"h] on Benjamin's wagon on his last trip [for storage of food or of tools to replace horseshoes or repair the wagon and/or harnesses] is currently in safekeeping at the home of Janet Slusher Keith. Passed to her by Jack and Darlene Hubbard Hylton, it had been passed to them from Robert Howell, a Benjamin descendant moving to Florida from Floyd County. Howell donated his papers to Va Tech Library. Janet is d/o Ruth Gardner Slusher d/o Lillie Helms Gardner d/o Joseph Helms s/o Thomas P. Helms m. Mary "Polly" Weddle d/o David Weddle, Sr. s/o Benjamin. Janet's late husband, David Joel Keith, Sr. s/o Dewey Joel s/o John William m. Naomah Weddle d/o Joel s/o Levi s/o Andrew s/o Benjamin.

Harter Connections:Benjamin & Anna Maria Weddle's daughter Sarah "Sary" (b.11/22/1792 d.4/15/1874) m. Jacob Harter (b.9/3/1788 d.12/31/1866) who was eldest of Frantz Harter's eight sons [See The "Frantz Harter" Story , p.10]  Jacob & Sarah moved to Darke Co., Ohio, where all eleven of their children were born and reared.  David Harter (2nd son of Frantz) m. Sally Boon d/o John Boon/Boone;  Benjamin & Anna Maria's  son Andrew Lewis Weddle m. Elizabeth Boon, also d/o John Boon/Boone.

In 1817 Frantz Harter, at the age of 58, moved his entire family to Darke County, Ohio. Byron Harter  in  The "Frantz Harter" Story , p.13: "One wonders today why a person of that age would venture into the unknown and face the unsurmountable hardships that were common to all Darke County pioneers. From this we can only conclude Frantz was a courageous man, a person with vision and determination. We have no record of his memoirs or any statements of wisdom that could aid or guide us.... Today, we are in possession of the fruits of his labor and privations.  His only record is the productive farm lands developed by him and his seven sons who lived and died in western Darke County, Ohio."

Frantz' son Adam was the only one of his eight sons to return to Floyd Co. (then Montgomery County).  Adam & Margaret (Stigleman) Harter's return in 1822 "separated Adam and his family for the rest of their lives." [See The "Frantz Harter" Story , p.16]

Children of Adam b.3/12/1795 d.5/22/1862 & Margaret Stigleman  b. 6/3/1795 d.1/4/1883 {d/o Philip Stigleman/Steichelman who as a lad of 13 was a teamster/wagoneer under Gen. George Washington; Philip and his family were among charter members of Zion Lutheran Church}:

1-Catherine Harter (b.1/30/1818 d.5/16/1904) m. Levi Weddle s/o Andrew s/o Benjamin    [See                pix of Levi & Catherine in The "Frantz Harter" Story ]                                                    2- Margaret "Peggy" Harter (b.10/13/1820 d.2/10/1884) m. John Bryant Hylton s/o Archelaus s/o          Elijah. [See #65] Their 4th child, Jacob m. Margaret Harman; Jacob & Margaret's                   daughter Minnie Hylton m. Arthur Titus Harman (and their children were Olin, Edna, Elree, Freeda m.Dale Harter, Jacob M. and Beulah.)                                                                                   3-John Harter (b.3/26/1825 d.7/15/1909) m. Harriet Howell (b.1831 d.1920).  John lost his right                            leg during battle at Chickamauga while serving in Co. D, 54th Va. Infantry, CSA. Also in                        the 54th was his nephew, Joel Weddle s/o Levi (b.8/22/1819 d. 1892) s/o Andrew s/o                  Benjamin. [See Note in #58 & pic of John Harter, wife and children in the 2012 FCHS                          calendar] Descendants own furniture or baskets made by John; Betty Harter Gardner d/o                        Marvin s/o Hiram Mack s/o John has John's handmade crutches, as well as a chair, two                            dressers, and four baskets made by him. [The twining (bands) of many of his baskets were                               tightly bound rye straw; one such basket was treasured by Joel Weddle’s dau., Naomah                            Weddle Keith, who passed it to her son, Dewey Joel Keith who passed it to his son, David                             Joel, late husband of Janet Slusher Keith. Joel Weddle (b.11/25/1833 d.4/12/1936) m.                             Martha Hylton (b.7/18/1855 d.8/30/1915) d/o George s/o Archelaus s/o Elijah Hylton]     [See Patch "...Heritage Baskets"]                                                                                                    4-Francis (b.10/15/1827 d.7/18/1863 in Civil War) was a bachelor.                                                                  5-Mary Ann (b.8/5/1830 d.9/27/1907) m. Henry A. Hylton s/o Archelaus s/o Elijah  [his 2nd m.]                         6-Nancy (b.6/15/1833 d.11/15/1922) m. Henry Slusher (b.3/19/1829 d.6/12/1898) first child of                 Stephen & Charlotte (Hylton d/o Archelaus) Slusher. [See #65]                                                              7-Sarah (b.3/4/1836 d.5/29/1924) m. Maj. Austin Harman s/o John & Celia (Hylton) {d/o                      Archelaus}[See #33]                                                                                                                                                  8-Samuel (b.5/3/1839 d.1/28/1873) m. Angelina Bishop d/o Asa & Elizabeth (Dodd) Bishop.       [See #41]                                                                                                                               9-Elizabeth (b.1/21/1842 d.1/14/1931) m. Francis Leroy Slusher (b.5/13/1845 d.2/24/1875 s/o  Jeremiah s/o Jacob). Elizabeth died at the home of Mollie Thompson [See ref. in # 29]

Adam & Margaret Harter, Catherine & Levi Weddle, John & Harriet Harter, Francis Harter, Samuel & Angelina Harter, and Elizabeth & Francis Slusher are among those buried in Weddle Cemetery.[See #62]            

       Site of Andrew & Elizabeth (Boone) Weddle home

Benjamin & Anna Maria’s son, Andrew Lewis (b.8/13/1787 d.8/7/1847) m.10/21/1811 Mary Elizabeth Boone (b.9/3/1791 d.11/9/1850 d/o John Boon/Boone b.@1756 who came to Floyd Co. 1807{s/o Johann Diel Bohne/Boon/Boone who was born in Germany and came to America in 1741 on the ship Marlborough and settled in Frederick (now Carroll) Co. ,Md.}   Elizabeth’s sister Nancy m. Joseph s/o George F. Phlegar. [See #46], and her sister Sally m. David Harter (2nd son of Frantz). According to Amos Wood, "Andrew was named for General Andrew Lewis." [See Floyd County: A History..., p.242] Elder Andrew & Elizabeth Weddle had ten children: of them Mary m.1837 Benjamin s/o Abraham Phlegar [See #48]; Sarah m. 1842 Elder Jeremiah H. Slusher s/o Jacob; John m. Louana Simmons d/o Cary & Caty; Joshua m. Mary Ann Simmons d/o Cary & Caty; Eliza m. 1853 Elder John Spangler s/o Daniel Spangler. Their son Levi m. Catherine Harter; four of their sons married Harman sisters (daughters of John {m. Celia Hylton} s/o Jacob {m. Christina Mock}): Harvey m. Margaret, Calvin m. Christina, Andrew m. Annie, Samuel m. Catherine. [See pic in Images...:Floyd Co.]

        Daniel & Mary Magdalene (Weddle) Spangler home;                                                                     Amanda (Spangler) & 1m.. Joshua Wade  & 2m. C.H. Mitchell home                                                        present home of Alan and Lorraine Terry, 3820 Laurel Branch Rd

Daniel Spangler d.1/28/1923 s/o David P. & Permelia (Booth) Spangler was named after his grandfather, a successful mill owner in Floyd and Franklin Counties. Raised as a Primitive Baptist, he and his brothers were against slavery. At the start of the Civil War, Daniel, then 16, and his older brothers joined as Confederates to protect their land holdings. As the war escalated, they found it impossible to defend Southern philosophies regarding slavery. The Spangler brothers deserted in 1863. Daniel's detailed letter outlining his reasons for defection is among items in the Weddle Collection (formerly in the possession of Mary Ethel Wade Weeks {gr.-gr.d/o Magdalene} and now held by her granddaughter, Michelle Weeks Bishop).

Daniel Spangler m. 1871 Mary Magdalene (Weddle) d/o Joseph {m. Susannah Bowman d/o Christian & Hannah (Rhinehart) Bowman [& sister of Hannah Bowman m. Elijah W. Hylton s/o Archelaus & Catherine (Weddle) Hylton]} s/o Andrew s/o Benjamin. Daniel and Magdalene had only one child, Amanda (Spangler) Wade Mitchell. The Spangler home was built in 1895 within yards of the Andrew Weddle house “which was home to four generations of Weddles.” [See Climb Your Family Tree] The comparative isolation of the area and the period of Reconstruction resulted in the inability to import desired building materials without exorbitant construction costs. As much as possible, materials taken from Andrew & Elizabeth’s house (wide wooden planks, hand-carved doors, etc.) were used in the construction. The four-square design is typical of other functional farmhouses in the Topeco community. Building materials that could not be salvaged or imported were found or made on their farm. (Both the massive rock chimneys and the rock foundation of Andrew’s home were used in  building Laurel Branch Rd.) The Spangler home had indoor running water by channeling the spring water from the original spring used by Benjamin into the home's lower level. Before grid service, the home had electric lights powered by a Delco generator. A table made of one big chestnut slab on trestles could seat 40; it was inside the lower level and was filled when paid farmhands helping to gather in crops (esp. wheat) were fed. [See pix of the home in “The Daniel Spangler Homeplace: A Project in Historic Preservation” by Michelle Weeks Carr Bishop; Michelle is a direct descendant of Andrew; see pic of Andrew’s son Levi's children in Images...: Floyd County, p.41]  Magdalene had both a large pewter platter (about 16 in. diameter) and a lantern that had been on the wagonload of goods at the time of her great-grandfather Benjamin Weddle’s death on Bent Mountain in 1807. [See #62]

Hoping for a large family and being blessed with only one child (Amanda/"Mandy" b.Oct.1871 d.7/10/1956), as years passed the Spanglers provided a loving haven for at least 25 children, some of them orphans. Amanda told of her parents finding small children on their porch on more than one morning; the parents who had left them there knew their children would be welcomed with plenty of food which they themselves were unable to provide (especially during the Depression). Some children stayed temporarily; others stayed for years. Regardless of prior religious affiliation, the entire household worshipped as a family at Topeco Church of the Brethren.  A 1937 Floyd Press article, “Mrs. [Magdalene] Spangler, One of Floyd’s Oldest Ladies, Age 87, Still Active,”  noted that "the home became headquarters for visiting preachers, a shelter to the needy, a haven for orphan children.... She “had experienced only one illness, an attack of acute diphtheria…. Seven generations have been reared on this farm…. After the death of her father [Joseph, from diphtheria in 1862] when she was 12, she assisted her mother in the care of her [five] sisters [youngest, Josephine, born two months after her father's death] and the work of the farm…. At present, two great-grandchildren [Mary Ethel and Edna Wade] are here attending school. Mrs. Spangler says that every school day for seventy-five years she has ‘packed’ a lunch or lunches for school children….Today, at 87, she stands erect and presides serenely and graciously over the household of eight…doing all of the cooking. Her countenance beams with the light that comes only to those to whom the evening of life brings contentment.”

Amanda/"Mandy" followed her parents’ tradition of community service and with J.A.L. Sutphin established Topeco Church’s first Sunday School after 1895 [See #66]. She and husband Joshua Wade had two sons, Henry Cline Wade and Daniel Price Wade. After Joshua’s death in 1899, Mandy married Cornelius H. Mitchell. After their deaths, items of their personal property were sold at a public auction held at the home on October 30, 1965. [Note: In 1899 Joshua Wade was the first individual to be buried in the "new"/current Topeco Cemetery. Amanda is said to have designed the stone for Joshua, Amanda and C.H. located in the center of the first row.]

Michelle Weeks Bishop (d/o Tennis s/o Mary Ethel Wade m. Harold Weeks) has Magdalene's "Sunday silk bonnet"and her grandmother Mary Ethel’s doll which has a touching history.  Mary Ethel and Edna’s father, Henry Cline Wade, died of typhoid while he was working in Florida; the family accompanied his body back home. To help occupy the little girls on the long trip, a doll was given to each. In later years, Mary Ethel made clothes for hers: a dress made from one of Mandy’s dresses, a black silk dress and bonnet made from one of her grandmother Magdalene’s dresses, and a linen petticoat made from flax grown on the farm.

The holly tree given by Harold Tennis Weeks to C. H. Mitchell in 1943, when Harold asked for permission to marry his [step] granddaughter Mary Ethel Wade, still shades the walkway. Harold and Mary Ethel were married in the yard at the home. Present owners of the home, Alan and Lorraine Terry, comment that the strong spring which was used by Benjamin Weddle and his descendants continues to serve the home. One may logically surmise that the spring likely influenced Benjamin Weddle's decision to settle his family at that particular site in 1790.

            Pass Millcrest on the right   [home of Wilbur (s/o Uriah s/o Samuel s/o Levi s/o Andrew                         s/o Benjamin) & Glenna Slusher  d/o Chris {s/o Millard s/o Jeremiah s/o Jacob}                          & Lura (Fayne) Slusher Weddle ] and stop at bridge                                                          4. Site of Solomon & Elizabeth (Slusher) Harman mill & home                                                

Elizabeth Slusher (b.1/14/1787 in Frederick Co., Va., d.11/11/1869) m.1810 Solomon Harman (b.10/24/1779 d.1842) bro/o Jacob (b.1769)  [See # 67] and s/o Mathias/Matthias (b.1740, served in Rev. War,d.1812). [See Floyd County: A History...pp.85-86] Just upstream from the present bridge, the Harman Mill was on the left side of the stream [beside what is now Ida Rose Lane, named after the mother of a later owner of the first house on the lane]. Remains of the dam abutment are visible on the right bank. Records indicate that Solomon bought the land at this site from Jacob Goodykoontz in 1809. The mill pond above the site was described as being "very deep and reaching almost a mile upstream." [Pictures and in-depth information about Solomon Harman and his mill may be found in Franklin F. Webb and Ricky L. Cox's  The Water-Powered Mills of Floyd County,Virginia, pp.218-222.]  Solomon’s gristmill on West Fork of Little Riverat this site continued to be in use until a flash flood destroyed it 10 Aug.1943. At that time, Emmett Davis's family lived in the first house upstream beyond the mill. His children recall that a large portion of the older section of the mill lodged at the first big bend downstream; they retrieved lumber from it to use in repairing some of their buildings.

Solomon & Elizabeth's home was located directly across what is now Laurel Branch Road from the mill. A Harman family picture taken @1915, with individuals identified by Freeda Harman Harter, confirms the location. The picture was shared by Margaret Harman Hubbard d/o Jacob s/o Arthur T. s/o Dennis s/o Jacob, Jr. s/o Jacob, Sr. s/o Mathias. [According  to  John Newton Harman, Sr.'s Harman Genealogy with Biographical Sketches, p.298: Mathias was s/o Christopher Harman although Amos Wood in Floyd County...,p.85, said he was s/o Jacob (d. 1741 in Bucks Co., Pa. . after coming from Germany with six brothers in early1700s) Note: on p. 89, Amos Wood incorrectly identified Elizabeth as d/o "Solomon and Eva Slusher."] Freeda Harman {d/o Arthur T.} Harter identified the location as "the Solomon Harman home." The log home covered with weatherboarding was dismantled March 14, 2015, with plans for its logs and foundation stones to be repurposed[The home's owner, Ronda (Davis d/o Emmett m. Manilla Belcher {d/o John m. Minnie Weddle d/o Andrew Weddle [s/o Levi s/o Andrew s/o Benjamin]m. Annie Harman}) Harris, determined that the condition of later twentieth-century additions to the original log structure rendered it unsafe for habitation.]        

JSK Note & bit of trivia: I took several pictures at the time of the dismantling which show German elements of the original log portion which finally succumbed to the pressures of a backhoe/excavator and fell on a date and time which occurs only once each hundred years: March 14,'15 at 9:26 & 53 sec = the numerical value of pi = 3.141592653.... I was very conscious of this since D.J. was a math teacher whose Master's thesis focused upon pi and whose classroom at FCHS was 314. One of his students inserted a decimal: 3.14 still remains on the door. While I was volunteering in her classroom, our daughter Jennifer, 5th-grade-math teacher at Floyd Elementary, had shared this trivia with her students the day before, and I shared it with the Emmett Davis descendants who had gathered to see the house that had been their childhood home come down. They agreed that it certainly provided an easy way to remember the date of a memorable event for them. A large handmade strap hinge and latch on one of the interior doors [in possession of Emmett Davis descendants; pix shared by Daniel Grim s/o Mark & Myra Grim] were similar to those on the original kitchen door of the Christopher Slusher, Sr., home. [See #11] Both iron hinges were very likely made by the same blacksmith.

The home built by Solomon & Elizabeth Harman was later owned by their son, John m. Mary "Polly" Bishop d/o Dr. John, Jr. {m. Dicie Cox d/o Ambrose & Sallie (Reed)} s/o John Bishop, Sr.; [Mary "Polly" was sister of Asa Bishop m. Elizabeth Dodd {d/o Benjamin & Mary (Prosize) Dodd.] John also later owned and ran Solomon Harman's grist mill. After John, both were owned by his daughter Margaret m. Eld. Jacob Hylton s/o John Bryant {m. Margaret (Harter)} s/o Archelaus s/o Elijah Hylton and later by their daughter Alice Hylton 1st m. Caleb W. Harman s/o Dennis {m.Julia (Burgess)} s/o Jacob,Jr. {m. Annie (Hylton) d/o Archelaus s/o Elijah} s/o Jacob,Sr. {m. Christina Mock} s/o Mathias s/o Christopher Harman.   

Margaret Harman Hubbard also shared a picture of the home that she found among Freeda Harman Harter's collection of pictures. Freeda had attached a typed note on the back of the picture identifying the house and individuals pictured with it: Margaret Harman Hylton and Caleb & Alice Hylton Harman; the porch faces West Fork of Little River; chimneys face Laurel Branch Road. To the  right is the log kitchen (which was likely Solomon & Elizabeth's first log home when they married in 1810).     

John & Polly Harman's daughter Malinda m. John T. Conduff s/o Silas Garrett & Lydia Conduff.  Malinda & John's daughter, Lura Conduff Akers Phlegar (b.5/8/1877), told of visiting her grandparents: "The main log house had living quarters downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. A breezeway connected with the log kitchen. On the outside was a bake oven which Grandmother Polly used. One of the things I remember in the house was a tall grandfather clock which was such a wonder to my childish eyes. There was a big millpond, and you had to cross the creek on a footlog."[See Tise, "Memories of Early Willis Days..."]

5. Goodykoontz Cemetery

The cemetery [location causing a sharp curve in the road] may be seen on the right from Laurel Branch Road; access is through a closed gate of a pasture field on the Grim family (formerly Goodykoontz) farm. Within are mature pine trees (closely planted there, as was also done at the suggestion of Alvin Harman in the Old Topeco and Burwell Hylton Cemeteries, with the intent “to smother out and control briars and brambles.”)

In addition to Goodykoontz family members, buried here are Solomon & Elizabeth Harman; Jacob S. & Sophia Harman; Asa W. & Julia Harman & their only child Elmer; Peter S. & Sarah Harman,  David& Nancy Cox Slusher as well as other Slushers, Harmans, Phlegars, Boones, Simmonses, and Grahams.           

6. Goodykoontz home / home of Jacob & Benton Alderman families /home of  Kermit &      Frances Grim /now home of Mark & Myra (Thompson) Grim, 3071 Laurel Branch Rd.

Goodykoontz Family Background: From The Floyd Press, July 1, 1976, p.14B : George Hans Gutekunst arrived 9/29/1750 from Germany on the Osgood in the Port of Philadelphia. He appeared before the mayor and was qualified...had various real estate transactions (bought and sold) and was naturalized (as a British citizen) by the court of Philadelphia.

From Wells Goodykoontz's 182 pp.Historical Sketch of the Goodykoontz--(Gutekunst) Families: Following the Militia Act of the Continental Congress calling for the conscription of all males between the ages of 16 and 50, George was in Co.59, 2nd Battalion, of the Northampton County Militia, Penn. This put his family (wife Margaretha and five young children) living about 50 miles north of Philadelphia when the Revolutionary War began; they could hear cannons in the distance.  Margaretha and their children migrated through Maryland and eventually as far as Winchester  (Frederick Co., Va.) where George joined them following the war; they had four more children. George died May 3, 1784; his second child and eldest son, Jacob Goodykoontz, then 13 years old, under the law of primogeniture then existing in Virginia, inherited George’s land (523 acres) on the “Great Valley Turnpike” with one boundary line (more than a mile in length) common to the farm of Major Isaac Hite, Jr., who was also a neighbor of Christopher Slusher, Sr.! [See #43 F] This is further evidenced in the deed to Christopher Slusher, Sr.'s land in Frederick Co., Md., which references "a corner to George Goodeconnce's a the line of Isaac Hite." [See SFO Newsletter, April 1973, p.3] Maj. Hite [gr.s/o Jost Hite, German emigrant & among first white families to settle in the northern Shenandoah Valley in 1732--on 140,000 acres of land obtained in two land grants] m. Nelly Conway Madison [sister of later Pres. James Madison] was aide de camp to George Washington. [See "Belle Grove..."]

In 1803Jacob Goodykoontz  (by then 32 years old), sold the 298-acre homeplace to Isaac Hite and the remaining land to his brother George II. By May 14, 1803, Jacob bought a "two-acre tract including the mills” from Guy Smith. According to Wells Goodykoontz: it was the first land in this area to be purchased by any of the Goodykoontz family and was about one mile to the south of where George II later built his home. By 1806, Jacob had purchased from Byrd Smith (Mont.Co. Deed Book, p.361) an adjoining tract of 1050 acres “on both sides of West Fork of Little River, extending from Will’s Ridge to beyond the Brick Church.” [See The Floyd Press, July 1, 1976, p.14B] On Nov.6, 1809, Jacob conveyed “108 acres of land including the mills,”to Solomon Harman; Jacob was then still a bachelor. By 1812, Zion Lutheran Church records show that Jacob & Margaret “Peggy” (Beaver) Goodykoontz’s daughter Elizabeth was baptized.

In 1810 George II & Mary “Polly” (Beaver) Goodykoontz sold the remaining Goodykoontz land in Frederick Co. to Isaac Hite. Soon after that, they, his mother Margaretha, and others of the Goodykoontz family joined Jacob on the land he had purchased in Floyd County.  George & Polly’s son Alfred Goodykoontz was baptized May 30, 1814, at Zion Lutheran Church. George II & Polly’s first home was "a hewed-log house, with port holes in the upper story." Many years later, George’s grandson William described it as being “an old Indian fort, about two hundred yards southwest of the Goodykoontz homeplace, that was still standing” in his boyhood. In William’s early years, he had played in the “fort” which at first had been surrounded by a high stockade (poles planted close together with sharp, pointed tops to prevent Indians from climbing over).  According to the “Memories of Robert Goodykoontz” published in The Floyd Press , July 1, 1976: “the last Indian seen in this section was shot from the cliff in front of the house.  He fell into the river and for fear of reprisal, he was buried in the cellar [which had a dirt floor] of the [first] home.”  Within the enclosure was a bold spring and space for a garden in the rich soil.

A deed dated Jan. 16, 1819 had conveyed “742 acres on both sides of the West Fork of Little River for $2000.00 cash” to George II from Jacob & Margaret Goodykoontz.  George also bought more land, including in June 1819, “18¾ acres from John Boon [father of Andrew Weddle's wife Elizabeth] situated on both sides of the wagon road adjoining his other land.” George Sr.’s widow Margaretha, George II & Polly and their twelve children lived on this farm. [See Wells Goodykoontz’s Historical Sketch...]

Margaretha died in 1819 and was among the first to be buried in the Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery [See #46]; a slab (info on it was in German) marked her grave. In the early 1970s, it was replaced by a new granite monument erected by her gr-gr-grandsons, Wells Goodykoontz and Robert Goodykoontz, sons of William  McKendree & Lucinda Katherine (Woolwine d/o Rev. Robert McCrum Woolwine) Goodykoontz, with the following inscription: “Margaret Goodykoontz, Mar. 1819. Widow of George Gutekunst (1732-1784), a soldier of the Revolution, from North Hampton County, Pa., born in Herterbach, Wurtensburg, Germany, buried Frederick County, Va. Their children: Marie Magdelena (m.George Phlegar); Jacob (m.Margaret Beaver); George II (m. Mary Beaver); Margaretha (m.Abram Phlegar); Elizabeth Eva; Mariah (m.Wm. Gilham); Catherene (m.Chrestian Stipe); David (m. Hannah Beaver)."

The Goodykoontzes (Gutekunsts) sold land to other German families who had kept in touch and migrated into this section, namely Slusher (Schlosser), Smith (Schmidt), Harman (Herrman), Phlegar (Pflieger),  and Harter (Herter).  From The Water-Powered Mills of Floyd County…, p.219: “Solomon [m. Elizabeth] Harman…didn’t buy the land from Jacob Goodykuntz until 1809. Nor did he build the first mill here. A mill of some kind was already on the property in 1809, as it had been when Jacob Goodykuntz bought the same land from Guy Smith in 1803….John Harman [and wife Mary (Bishop)] apparently bought the mill from his siblings in the process of settling their father [Solomon]’s estate.”[See #41]

Jacob & Margaret (Beaver) Goodykoontz had seven children. By Oct. 10, 1831, they made their last deed in Virginia: "144 acres to Kara" (this is Cary m. Catherine "Caty" Slusher) Simmons who established a mill further upstream on a tributary of West Fork. [See #61] Shortly thereafter, Jacob and his family migrated to Indiana following Jacob's younger brother Daniel who had gone there some years earlier; Jacob ran a mill in Indiana until his death in 1835.

The George Goodykoontz II family built a “modern” two-story frame home in 1841: eight large rooms, portico in front and long porch. The fifth generation of the Goodykoontz family were children (Wells & Robert and their siblings) living at the location from 1784-1903 when their father, William McKendree Goodykoontz (s/o David {m. Ruth d/o Henry Harter} s/o George II), sold the house and farm and moved his family to Roanoke. On the day of the sale which William held before the 1903 move, a box (which the family treasured and planned to take with them) was stolen. It contained hundreds of perfect arrowheads, tomahawks and a pipe stem of stone about three inches long with a hole neatly drilled through the stem. All of the artifacts had been gathered by members of the Goodykoontz family in the valley along the tributaries (Furnace, Dobbins, and Spurlock Creeks) and the West Fork of Little River. Kathleen Ingoldsby shares that another box of Indian artifacts was sold at the Benton Alderman sale in 1968; the auctioneer described it as a “box of rocks” as he pulled out a tomahawk head. Myra Grim shares that the most perfect arrowhead she has found was in the garden near the house.

A unique feature of the house is that it has three stairways, each going to a different part of the house; this requires retracing steps (from the girls’ room) and taking a different stairway to get to the boys’ and guests' room, another part of the second floor. The kitchen stairs lead only to the room over the kitchen. [JSK Note: George Wm. & Clemmie Slusher’s Rush Fork home also had three stairways similarly situated; see #33] All outside doors were locked from inside and had strong wooden bars in place across them. In early years, the dining room was referred to as the Community Room, for it was the site of community gatherings and dances during which the dining room furniture was temporarily moved to an open side porch facing West Fork (enclosed in later years).

Robert Goodykoontz also told of the tan yard located under the hill in front of the Goodykoontz homeplace. Vats, which were square holes four or five feet deep, had sides and bottom lined with planks and were water tight. "Green" (newly removed) cowhides were placed in the vats between layers of crushed oak-tree bark and covered with water. The cowhides remained in the tanning-bark ooze for several months; after removal, the hides were finished into leather [by Goodykoontz slaves]. The large stone used to crush the bark was dated 1827 and may still be seen in the yard. William Goodykoontz filled the vat holes with dirt. [See Wells Goodykoontz’s Historical Sketch...]

In the blacksmith shop, all of the farm’s iron plow points, horseshoes, gate and door hinges, wagon wheel rims, and tools were made using an anvil and a leather bellows to heat the iron. The Goodykoontz slaves were blacksmiths, tanners, harness makers, and shoemakers. The ice house which served the community was on the bank between the house and West Fork. (In winter, blocks of ice would be cut and stored here when ice formed in West Fork.) When someone in the community had a fever, an individual would be sent to get ice to “break the fever.”

A two-story log house with attic, stone chimney, and stone-walled cellar, “just across the Dug Spur Road” from the main house, served as slave quarters. [After 1936 Benton Alderman demolished the two upper stories and built a double garage on the native-stone foundation.] After the Civil War, hired whites took the place of slaves; Jack & Nan Reynolds, with a family of 17 children, moved into the slave quarters and made baskets, chair bottoms, and mattress mats to cover cord/rope beds; Jack taught each of his children his trade. Robert Goodykoontz: "Nan was a tall, raw-boned woman, very strong [who] would cut down a hickory or oak tree, make splits and then baskets from the size of a pint cup to ones that would hold two or three bushels.... She would make 40-50 baskets; Jack would run a rope through the handles, put them on his back and walk to Floyd, Stuart, Rocky Mount, Hillsville, or Christiansburg to sell them for 15 cents to a dollar make enough to buy clothing and shoes for the family."

Kermit Grim remarked that the “Old Dugspur Road” came “down the hollow,” (having followed part of present Wildwood Road, most of which is no longer VDOT maintained) crossed what is now Laurel Branch Road, and followed what is now the driveway to Mark & Myra Grim's home. The road then continued “down to the creek and across it at a ford." The old roadbed may be discerned continuing to the left just beyond the meadow across West Fork; it reaches the "top of the grade" through the trees just across from the driveway at Allen & Anne Harman's home, 630 Graham Road. It likely continued out the ridge on what is now Goldfinch Road to eventually reach Greasy Creek Cemetery on Alum Ridge Road--exact route not certain--and likely proceeded onto what is now Agnes Lane, then into Willis to reach "the turnpike" (now Floyd Hwy S). [See #21,49 for other references to Dugspur Road / Dug Spur Road] In Floyd County, p.325, Amos Wood shared items from the 1831 Floyd County Court Orders: "No. 5: Ordered that Thomas Howell be appointed Surveyor of the Road from the Patrick Road at John Carter's to the Dug Spur Road at or near Solomon Harman's mill and that he with the tithables allotted him by Adam Harter, Benjamin Howell and David Weddle, Sr., do put and keep the same in repair according to law."  [See p.301,303 in Wood's Floyd County: John Carter owned 3737 acres on S. Fork of Little River.  Acc. to Mont. Co. Deed Book E, p.111: some Carter land bordered "Howels line."  Two of John Carter's children m. Howells.] Marguerite Tise recounted that the lands, given in 1831 by Kitterman, Tice and Phlegar for Floyd's county seat, "met and cornered on the ridge at [what is now] Floyd's stoplight. The roads, such as they were, intersected near this point--the Dugspur Road (now U.S. 221) originated in Franklin County where it got its name from the Dugspur mountain ridge, and the other (now Route 8) from the direction of Christiansburg and going south down the mountain to Taylorsville (now Stuart)." [See Floyd Press Nov.18,1999] As neighbors themselves were responsible for building the first roads, they followed the line of least resistance along the terrain. [Swanson Sowers shared with Bud Slusher that he recalled that Harvey Bishop and Harvey Slusher {m. Julia Bishop, Harvey's sister=Bud's grandparents} started the road on the hillside down to Harvey Bishop's house by plowing a deep furrow for the upper set of wagon wheels to follow, thus holding the wagon on the hillside. See #31,38]  Later, early horse-drawn road graders made it possible to develop road beds on higher elevations. As the grader removed dirt, a dump buggy pulled by one or two oxen or horses would scoop up the dirt and dump it over the bank. Farmers would contribute rocks they had gathered off their cleared cropland to create a more solid roadbed. Such roads were gravel surfaced when an early rock crusher, powered by a steam engine, was moved to locations where rocks to be crushed into gravel had been piled. Not until the early 1930s did the state take responsibility for road maintenance. [See "Floyd County, Virginia Roads--How They Were Built, as Told by George Shelor"]

By the time of the Civil War, George Goodykoontz’s sons, David and Isaac, were partners and jointly held the land, cattle, horses (everything) in common. The location was designated as a central Confederate supply station and headquarters for outfitting companies of Confederate soldiers going to the front. There was a warehouse which held muskets, ammunition, shoes, caps, canteens, etc.; that made it a target for raiders/robbers/deserters. On a Saturday night, after David Goodykoontz had just outfitted a company going to the front, a gang of deserters came to rob, thinking there were no more guns on hand to deter them. Probably the most famous door in the house is the front door which carries the imprint where a robber hit it with the butt of his gun, and the hole from a minie ball he fired through the two-inch thick, handmade door. The robbers then fired through several windows. This robbery was stopped by a return shot from an upstairs window by B.W.S. Bishop, a Methodist minister married to Julia Goodykoontz and then living in the house. The shot from Bishop’s squirrel rifle hit one robber in the hip at the front gate,and the robbers were scared off and left, taking their wounded cohort with them. [See The Floyd Press, Jan.1951, remembrances of Virginia Pitzer Williams Peterman as told to her daughter, Jessie Peterman. Also, in the Floyd County Historical Inventory 1937-38 WPA of Va., p. 203: "a Minister of the Gospel put to rout about thirty Confederate deserters who were bent on pillage. In 1865, at a date not exactly fixed, the attack occurred, the deserters firing as they advanced. In the house was a Methodist Minister the Rev. William Bishop, who fired upon the marauders and wounded one. The rest took to their heels and fled."] The next morning (Sunday) "a posse of old men in the community" was formed; after questioning “a quack doctor” (who had helped the wounded robber), they were led to the Alum Ridge section where they found about 20 men in a cave filled with flour, meat, bacon, hams, eggs, chickens, featherbeds, pillows, blankets, saddles, harness, etc., that they had pillaged from area farms. The gang of deserters was rounded up, taken to Christiansburg. Sent back to the Confederate Army, some were court martialed; some were executed. A few months later, the Goodykoontz barn was set on fire. A shed filled with hay entirely surrounded the barn proper and prevented relief from reaching the animals, 14 horses, as it burned. In addition, hundreds of bushels of wheat, corn and oats, as well as all of the farming tools and implements burned. David Goodykoontz "knew that friends of the robbers had set the barn on fire" but could never prove it. The man whom Bishop shot in the attempted robbery died in the Christiansburg jail about a year later. [See Wells Goodykoontz’s Historical Sketch..., p.177.] Located across the present Laurel Branch Road from the house, a hay barn (dismantled in 2018) was built by Benton Alderman on the original barn’s stone foundation.

The main part of this home was built in 1841 and was occupied by members of the Goody- koontz family until 1903. It has had changes and additions made as ownership has changed hands: to Milton & Hester (Underwood) Belcher until 1907; Caleb & Alice (Hylton) Harman until 1909; JacobBarringer (b.1858 d.1936)&Laura (Harter b.6/26/1869 d.9/1/1940 d/o John) Alderman from 1909 until 1936 when Jacob died, and it was bought by his son Benton m. Effie (Pratt) Alderman gr-gr-gr.d/o Capt. Daniel Shelor [See #55].  Benton gave the location the name of Alkoontz Inn: Al for Alderman, koontz for Goodykoontz and Inn for Indians. Effie shared that the boxwoods there were bought during their honeymoon trip to Williamsburg.

The home and land were bought by Kermit & Frances (Dulaney) Grim from Benton Alderman in 1968. The Grims' children, Andy,  Anita, and Mark, now collectively own the greater part of the  William Goodykoontz land, and the farm has the distinction of being the largest farm in Floyd County to have all of its land connected: the only “separations” are created by roads.  Mark & Myra (Thompson d/o Dorsey) Grim now live in the Goodykoontz home.

            On Road 728 (now Reedsville Road, a dirt/gravel road) #7,8,9:                                                     7. Site of Harman School  to the right just past the present bridge over Spurlock Creek; follow  discernible trail to school site (then also reached by a swinging bridge over the creek)

The Harman School est.1876 was described as being located “near the Burwell Hylton homeplace” [See p. 64, John B. & Nancy Howell Hylton…] and about one mile from the Goodykoontz place. Robert and Wells Goodykoontz both shared various experiences there in their written remembrances. It was a one-room school, built to Supt. Calohill Minnis Stigleman's 1871 specifications: 20' x 24', 12' high walls, tongue-and-groove floor, chestnut-shingle roof with 21" overhang. It had a pot-bellied stove in the center; the boys had to cut the wood in stove lengths,  carry it in, and maintain a large supply in one corner. Wells recalled that when there was “heavy snow, about two feet--not less--our father, William Goodykoontz, would hitch a horse to a log and drag it to make a path for us children to follow.”  Glenna (Slusher) Weddle recalls walking from her home on Huckleberry Rd., down King Ranch Road [See #4, 18] to Harman School for one year before Laurel Branch School opened; she shares that she had fun sliding down banks covered with layers of pine needles. Iletta Reed Slusher d/o Webb & Julia Bowman {d/o Daniel} Reed shares that her mother "attended Harman School. She walked from the Laurel Branch community and in the winter walked on top of deep snow drifts that were frozen and did not break through." [See #21; see pic of 1907 students in 2011 FCHS calendar]

After the Civil War, Virginia had passed a new state Constitution which called for a “uniform system of public free schools in all Va. counties by 1876.”  The inclusion of  "uniform" in the wording meant that counties could have separate schools for blacks and whites. In 1900, 108one-room schools served students in Floyd County(101 of those were for white students; seven were for black students) who lived within approximately two-miles walking distance of the school in their community.

8. Burwell & Mary Ann (Slusher) Hylton Cemetery

The cemetery is to the right of the road, past the Spurlock Creek bridge, on top of the hill (near the site of their homeplace which is less than ¼ mi. further on the left). Within it are mature pine trees (closely planted there, as was done in the Old Topeco and Goodykoontz Cemeteries). Burwell, Mary Ann and other family members are buried here.

9. Site of Burwell & Mary Ann (Slusher) Hylton’s second home

Mary Ann "Polly" (b.4/26/1803 d.7/7/1888) m.1823 Burwell Hylton (b.12/28/1801 d.8/30/1883) s/o John B. Hylton {s/o Elijah} & Nancy Howell and bro/o Telitha Hylton m. JacobSlusher. Their first log cabin was on land later owned by Freeman Slusher and was in sight of the Oliver Perry Slusher/“Little Peter” Cemetery. [See #34]

Their second log home [See picture on p. 64 John B. & Nancy Howell Hylton…] was about two miles from Laurel Branch Road and next to Rt.728/now Reedsville Road in the open meadow to the left past the bridge over Spurlock Creek. When that house was torn down, the logs were removed and used to build the home with log exterior built by Bernard Lee m. Lucille (Harmon {d/o Edgar & Mary d/o George Wm. s/o Perry s/o Jacob}) across Floyd Hwy N from the Floyd Rescue Squad building. Some stones forming Burwell & Mary Ann’s cellar remain by the bank on the lower/left driveway. The cellar's remains are near the homesite which was on the rise in the meadow to left of the cellar.

10. Home of Thaddeus Palmer  on the hillside above the solid-rock ledge at curve on right of                            Laurel Branch Rd.; remains can be seen from the intersection with Reedsville Rd.

Thaddeus “Uncle Thad” Palmer was born into slavery in Richmond. In 1857 at about the age of 18, he was on the Richmond slave block; he said “an old sour puss” had been bidding on him when he was bought “for $1800 in gold” by Washington Goodykoontz who “had a receipt for this” which he carried in his change purse (according to the “Memories of Robert Goodykoontz” published in The Floyd Press, July 1, 1976). Washington Goodykoontz was then a bachelor and made his home with his brother David who then “owned seven or eight slaves.”

Thaddeus served as the house slave and was said to have declared that after he was bought and “brought to Floyd County, he never knew he was a slave, for he came and went when he was ready…had good clothes, plenty to eat, and occasionally he was given some money.” As house slave, he kept five fireplaces going, carried in the water, did the gardening, etc., and lived in a room over the kitchen. Thad shared that he would never forget the terrible sounds of the 14 horses being burned alive in the Goodyjoontz barn fire. [See #6]

After the Civil War, “Uncle Thad” stayed on the farm, and he and his wife Sara (Stewart)/“Aunt Sara,” who was “granny” to the Goodykoontz children (including Wells and Robert), were “given 40 acres adjoining the Goodykoontz homeplace.” They lived in the two-story house in the hillside field [house has fallen,but remains are still visible in 2019]. Thad & Sara had 13 children and after Sara died, Thad married a second time and had four more children. Pat Cox Agee shares that her mother, Elsie Trail, remembered that "Uncle Thad" always had something in his pocket to share with neighborhood children. At least two of Thad's children continued to work for the Goodykoontz family after Thad died. The Thad Palmer Cemetery is on the hill beyond the house; several graves in it are simply marked with rocks. Chester Trail (m. Esther Bowman d/o Luther) owned, and built their home on, the land called “the Thad Palmer place” when Kermit Grim bought it from him. [See pic of Thad in Images...: Floyd County, p.29]

             On the right at 2402 Laurel Branch Road NW:                                                                            11. Home of Christopher, Sr., & Eva (Hancock) Slusher; Jacob S. & Sophia (Weddle)    Harman; Asa W. & Julia (Slusher) Harman; Preston &       Annie (Hylton) Cox;                         Herman & Elsie (Trail) Cox; Murray & Pat (Cox) Agee

Slusher Family background: Christofel Schlosser/Christopher Slusher, Sr.’s parents, Peter Schlosser and Maria Margaretha Weschenbach, came to America through the port of Philadelphia: Peter from Hilsbach, Germany, on the Dragon in 1732; Maria from Fruedenberg, Germany, in 1734; both are buried in Sharpsburg, Maryland.  Peter took the “Oath of Allegiance” on 30 Sept.1738, but he and his family continued speaking German. Peter & Maria spent most of their lives in Lebanon Township, Lancaster Co., Pa., where their children were born and raised. They moved to Sharpsburg, Md., about 1780. Peter’s grave marker is still legible today; it is in the old Reformed Church’s graveyard just off the main street of the town of Sharpsburg, about a mile from the Antietam Battlefield. [See  250 Years in the Blue Ridge: The Legacy of the Slushers and Other Settlers in Floyd County by Nancy Slusher Hanley and Janet Slusher Keith, pp.8-9; and]  Christopher was Peter & Maria's 10th/youngest child.

After the Revolutionary War, southwest Va. and western N.C. were still “wilderness.” The Virginia Land Office was established in 1779 along with the procedure for the state to sell unappropriated lands. Under the act, any person could purchase as much land as desired upon payment to the Treasurer of a fee of forty pounds for 100 acres. The purchaser was given a warrant (also identified as a grant) authorizing a surveyor to lay off the land.[]

Christopher Slusher, Sr.’s, name is among those on the bronze plaque in the Floyd County Court House listing Floyd’s Revolutionary War veterans. Christopher, his brother John (also a Rev. War veteran), and their families came down from Maryland and Frederick Co.,Virginia, together by about 1802 [See #43]. John settled in what is now the Blacksburg area, and his descendants are Slussers. Church records, deeds, etc., [recorded by different clerks, often English] listed Christopher (Christofel Schlosser in German) and his children as Shlossers or Slushers. A shortened version/nickname from the German Christofel is “Stuffle,” or even “Stuf,” a name found in references to Christopher (and descendants).  Amos Wood [in  Floyd County: A History..., p. 114] referred to Polly (Mary Ann) as “daughter of Stuf Slusher.”

Smith Connection: Casper Smith (Kasper Schmidt) m. Catherine Slusher (Schlosser) first lived in Bucks Co., Pa., then by about 1800 settled on Dodd's Creek in what became Floyd Co. Catherine was likely a close relative, but if Amos Wood's record giving their marriage in Germany is correct, she could not be sister of John b.9/10/1754 and Christopher b.10/15/1757. However, another record lists Catharina Margaretha b.1/10/1748 as a d/o Peter & Maria Schlosser {who came to America in 1732 & 1734}, thus making her Christopher's sister. [See #50: Zion Lutheran Church record lists Christopher & wife as sponsors of Casper & Catherine Smith/Schmidt’s daughter Elizabeth; close relatives served as sponsors.]

The following from Amos Wood’s Floyd County:..., p.197: “William Schmidt/Smith bought 1000 acres of land in the county of Montgomery, now Floyd. His wife brought Easter lily bulbs over on the boat in her apron pocket. Casper Smith, son of William, married Catherine Schlosser/ Slusher in Germany where their first three children were born: John, Frederick and Henry, the latter born in 1793. The family immigrated to America while Henry was a babe in arms.  They settled in Pennsylvania and there three more children were born: Christopher [called 'Stuffle,'] Eva, and Mary. About 1800, the family moved South, settling some three miles south of the present county seat of Floyd on the waters of Dodd’s Creek. William's wife planted Easter lily bulbs at their original home place in Floyd County, now known as the Easter flower patch. [The dirt plantation road is on the right just past 1051 Parkway Ln. S/ Rte. 8; lilies continue to bloom there each spring]. Casper and Catherine Smith were affiliated with the Zion Lutheran Church, as shown by the church records: their daughter Elizabeth b.2/1/1805 had as sponsors Christopher Slusher and wife; this record indicates that Elizabeth was born after their settlement in Va.”

        Christopher, Sr., & Eva (Hancock) Slusher home    2402 Laurel Branch Road NW:                                     

Following is proof that thisis the home built by Christopher, Sr. (b.10/15/1757  d.12/11/1845)            A. Records show that Christopher was in this area of Floyd County as early as1802.[Marguerite                  Tise’s “Early History of Floyd County” in the Journal of the New River Historical             Society,VIII,No. 1,1995: “In 1802, another group of German-American families and         friends traveled from their original homes in Maryland and Pennsylvania to Floyd.  They were the Lutherans: George and Abraham (Pflieger) Phlegar (brothers), Jacob Tice,        Christopher (Schlosser) Slusher, Jacob and George (Gutekunst) Goodykoontz, Jacob      and Solomon (Hermann)Harman, George Mock, and others.”[Reference was found in         Kathleen Ingoldsby’s “Remember Me: Grave Art in the Blue Ridge,” p.4] Some sources      suggest Eva’s death date as 1837. We know that Christopher died 12/11/1845.                                            B. Jacob S. Harman was born 1811 in his parents’ (Solomon Harman m. Elizabeth (Slusher) d/o             Christopher,Sr.) home. He married 1/26/1836,  Sophia Weddle (gr.d/o Benjamin) and       “settled on the West Fork of Little River some two miles from where his father Solomon        lived and operated the Harman Mill.”  In an interview with Luther Bowman in 1993,         Kathleen Ingoldsby referred to the “1836 log house still standing today.”  I believe it is         the house in which Jacob S. and Sophia first “settled.”                                                                           C. Family history: “After Jacob’s death, his home was occupied by his son Asa.” 

D. Architectural archeologists concluded that the oldest part of “the Asa Harman house” was       built by around 1810.  Jacob S. Harman could not have built it since he was born 1811.                        E. Robert Leath, head curator of Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston Salem,       NC, dated the corner cupboard made by Christopher Slusher, Sr., “about 1810.”  Leath    pointed out that Hattie Dickerson’s earliest memory of the cupboard was seeing it in the            home of Jacob S. Harman (her great-grandfather and Christopher’s grandson).                                                    F. In my youth, older citizens in the community referred to the log barn as “the Chris Slusher          barn” before it fell down in March 1990. Pat Cox Agee (gr.d/o Preston Cox) lives in the        “Asa Harman house” purchased by Preston Cox at Asa Harman’s estate sale. (Asa and Julia had raised Preston Cox as their own, and Preston and his wife moved in to care for   Asa in his last days.) Pat shared that an architectural archeologist dated the house “about         1810” after examining the exposed mortise-and-tenon joinery in the unfinished attic.                        G. My dad, Freeman Slusher, Sr,, remembered that Elmer Turman, a cousin who was then our   mail carrier, had said that “Jacob Slusher moved in with Christopher in his last years.”       Jacob was eighth of Christopher's ten children; youngest son Stephen had moved to   Indiana; by 1836,youngest child Mary Ann had eight children (and would have six more).                                                                                                                                                            H. Proof of that is found in a letter printed in “Slusher Family Organization Newsletter,” Vol.I,    No.4, p.4:  The letter is dated June 4, 1836, from Burwell Hylton to Christopher, Jr.,          who then lived in Missouri. [In 1816 Christopher, Jr. had bought land in Carroll Co.    from John Green which "included the acreage that is now between[Hillsville's]Main            Street, the present county high school, and a great deal more...[which he sold] to James         Gardner, whose family held it for years." [See p.162 of Alderman's Carroll 1765-1815]    Christopher, Jr. and his family moved to Lafayette Co., Mo., in 1828. Christopher, Jr.,&   wife Hannah (Myers) are buried in Slusher Cemetery, seven mi. east of Lexington, Mo.]   In the letter Burwell said, “your father and mother are in common health and Jacob           Slusher has moved there to take care of them.”                                                                        I. After Christopher died in 1845,  JacobSlusher moved back to his land further down West   Fork where he built his second home (which burned down in 1936 when his gr.-gr.son      George L. Slusher’s family lived there) and barn (which is still in use).  That Jacob lived         with Christopher after mid-1836 would explain why his 1837 deed (now in Kevin Keith's             home on the land Jacob received from Christopher) was found among other papers of the            subsequent occupants of the house, Jacob S. and Asa W. Harman.                                        J. According to Jacob S. Harman’s hand-stitched “1845 Bill Book Spring of commencement of      business at West Fork in the fall of 1845,” Jacob S. Harman began his store with        partner             Asa L. Howard in 1845 at that location where he was postmaster of Willis Ridge/   Will’s Ridge Post Office. As noted in C, after Jacob S. Harman’s death, his home was            occupied by his son, Asa W. Harman.                                                                                                                                  K. Shortly after Christopher’s death, Jacob S. Harman moved from the 1836 house across the             road into Christopher Slusher, Sr.’s, home, enlarged it by adding a two-story wing    with porches, covered the whole with weatherboarding (all of which a discerning eye                          can see was sawn at the same time) and it still stands today as perhaps the oldest        home in the area to have continuous occupancy since before 1810.    Confirmation of this conclusion surfaced while I wasseeking to determine where Asa L. Howard, Jacob S. Harman’s business partner, had lived; it turned out to be at the Jacob Helms’ homestead, “Rose Hill.” [See #48 and p.103 of Amos Wood’s Floyd County: A History...] Asa L. Howard married Jacob Helms’ daughter Ellen (widow of Dr. John W. Headen, brother of Dr.Tazewell Headen of “Glenanna”).  I turned to p.89 of that same book to the information about Jacob S. Harman and found the statement: “Jacob S. Harman married Sophia Weddle and lived at the Christopher Slusher place, five miles northwest of the courthouse, where he was Postmaster for many years and a successful farmer.” 

Another confirmation was in the obituary notice for Asa W. Harman (appearing in The Floyd Press, March 9, 1933).  “Asa Harman, age 90, one of the outstanding citizens of this county died at his home in the Laurel Branch neighborhood yesterday, March 9th, from the result of a recent attack of influenza.  His death occurred in the house in which he was born, and which was erected by his [great]grandfather over two hundred years ago.”

    Jacob S. & Sophia (Weddle) Harman home

Jacob S. (b.10/1/1811 d.12/4/1882 first s/o Solomon & Elizabeth) m.1/26/1836 Sophia Weddle (b.7/7/1811 d.3/15/1880) d/o Margaret "Polly" Weddle (b.2/17/1789 d.4/15/1874) & gr.d/o Benjamin & Anna Maria.  Sophia was raised by her uncle, Jonas {bro/o Polly; he witnessed Polly's marriage 2/1/1816 to Samuel Huff} m. 1806 Margie (Rutrough)Weddle.

In a 1993 interview with Luther Bowman, Kathleen Ingoldsby referred to the “1836 log house[There is a painted date of 1836 inside the upper bricked gable.] still standing today across Laurel Branch Road from the Christopher Slusher, Sr., home. This most likely is the home in which Jacob S. and Sophia Harman first “settled...about two miles downstream from Solomon & Elizabeth’s home on West Fork” [See SFO Newsletters]. In later years, it was a tenant house, home of Webb Goad m. Irene Dalton and their family. Its original porches and attached room(s) are no longer there. (It may have served as the ordinary for which Jacob had a permit.)       

Jacob S. Harman was an influential person in the Will’s Ridge community along West Fork. He was postmaster of Willis Ridge/Will's Ridge Post Office [See #20; Jacob's son Ananias later also served Will's Ridge P.O. as postmaster], owned a general mercantile store with partner Asa L. Howard [it stood where the current Laurel Branch Road intersects with the old road bed/current driveway], had a legal whiskey and brandy distillery [one of at least 40 licensed distilleries in the county before Prohibition] and a permit to "operate an ordinary" [1800s definitions: (1) eating house that provided a complete meal at a fixed price; (2) judge of probate in some U.S. states].  He was the executor of estates, including his father’s [Solomon Harman died June 17, 1842], and it seems he was the man to whom people in the area came to mediate disputes.  He rented out various of his land holdings, [according to the 1850 census, he owned about 8500 acres], likely loaned out money, and as an educated man, probably wrote and read correspondence for individuals who came to the post office and store.

Family tradition concerning Jonas Weddle (b.1779 d.1845 s/o Benjamin), Sophia Weddle Harman's uncle who raised her:   In Climb Your Family Tree, pp. 52-53, 96-97, Kate Weddle Ratliff shared an often-told family story. "According to tradition, Jonas was a character a little out of the ordinary. Not having any children [of his own], his greatest interest was making and hoarding money of which he had a considerable amount.  To be exact, a half bushel measure filled with all silver. This doesn't seem so unreasonable, when you recall that a .01 piece in those days was silver, and near the size of a half dollar today's money. There was also a .02 piece and a half dime, etc. Several of the family and some friends saw the silver. Sometime before old Jonas died, he hid the money and only one man was told where it was hidden. To anyone's knowledge, family or friends, the money has never been found to this day. The man, a neighbor and friend who was supposed to know where it was hidden, was a man of  very meager means and died that way. People thought he never found it or tried to, for he certainly never had any money to spend. Sometime before old Jonas died, he requested to be buried on top of a hill on his own land beside a locust tree. [Facts of his survey were mentioned in Benjamin Weddle's Feb. 16, 1807 will. From July 1859 survey by Jackson Godbey: "...two hundred and nine acres of land being the quantity contained in a tract know as the old Jonas Weddle place and bounded as follows Beginning at two locust saplings on a hill near the turnpike...corner in William Cannadays two stumps near the Duncard Church by a fence...crossing the turnpike to a stake...hickory in a line of Joseph Weddles a double white oak on the bank of the west fork of little a white oak corner to John Weddle's land...crossing the turnpike to the beginning."  The "turnpike" is Floyd Hwy S; the "Duncard Church" is the Brick Church.] He also requested that his grave be dug deep enough to bury him 'standing up.' He laughingly said that he wanted to watch the people search for his money so he could laugh at them. He was buried where he requested but not standing up....In March 1986, his remains were moved to Weddle Cemetery."   Note: Kate had often heard this story from her father, Abner, whose father, Isaac Weddle s/o Andrew, was Jonas's nephew and remembered Jonas well. Other Weddle relatives recall the coins of the story as being "gold that were buried near a little stream."

      Asa W. & Julia (Slusher) Harman home                                                                     

Jacob S. & Sophia’s 7th/youngest child was Asa W. b.4/22/1853 d.3/9/1933 m. Julia Ann Slusher b.5/12/1854  d.4/7/1926  d/o Lewis Hamilton {s/o David} m.Sarah Wade. Their only child, Elmer b.9/30/1885 d.8/30/1887 is buried in the Goodykoontz Cemetery—as are Asa & Julia. In “Memories of Robert Goodykoontz": “One of the first things I remember was attending the burial of a little boy named Elmer Harman…in 1887, in the old Goodykoontz graveyard near home.  I told Mother he looked very pale. I was between 3 and 4 years old.  Later his father, Asa Harman, erected a tombstone with a lamb on top.  We had a colored family named Scales, who lived in a cabin just under the hill from the graveyard.  One of the boys broke the head off the lamb. Mother offered a reward of 10 cents if the lamb’s head would be returned.  A few days later, we found the head on the grave, but the reward was never collected.  You will notice to this day the stone with a lamb, with its head broken off, in the old graveyard.”

Asa and Julia had no other children, but they “took in and raised several unfortunate children” including Cassie Wade b.1889 d.1976 whose motherMartha (Moran) Wade  b. 1842 d.1/30/1892 died [of "la grippe"/the flu] when Cassie was three. [Cassie was 12th and youngest child of Isaac & Martha Wade. Her brother, James Winston m. Addie Harman {parents of Dalton Wade}, sister Naomi Alice married Henry Keith {parents of Kerry and Howard Keith}, Joshua S. m. Amanda Spangler [See #3],10th child Flemon was listed in home of Daniel & Magdalene Spangler in 1900 census as "servant" who "could read but not write."] Cassie was listed as Julia's "niece" in the 1910 census but as "dau." in the 1920 census. Asa & Julia also later raised Cassie’s daughter, Lillian Kinley b.5/1/1913 d.6/5/1985, who married Price Bower. [See #28] Asa & Julia also raised Thomas Lee Plasters b.4/4/1874 d.4/17/1951 s/o Thomas Jefferson Plasters and Mary Jane Hylton. [See p.178 Maynard Hylton’s book] Lee m. Eunice Tamer Hylton b.3/1/1875 d.8/7/1951 d/o Ira Slusher Hylton, 1st child of Burwell & Mary Ann (Slusher) Hylton.  Eunice was sister of Gilbert Hylton. [See #18]

Asa and Julia raised Preston Cox who as a five-year-old boy “was being brought by a man [possibly "Preston’s grandfather" according to Fannie Jones's notes] from Indian Valley on the way to the poor farm” when Asa & Julia invited them to come in for a meal and to spend the night. The next morning Asa & Julia told the man to “just leave Preston with” them, and they raised Preston.Elza B. Cox, in The Genealogy of William Tobias Phillips p.68, identifies Preston's mother as Dicie Quesenberry (b.@1858 d.10/17/1896); Dicie was d/o Tobias L. Phillips (b.2/19/1832 d. 12/19/1895) & Sarah Cox Quesenberry (b.1800 d/o Ambrose Cox, Sr. and sis/o Tobias's mother Lucy Cox). Sarah was a widow who had three children by Tobias. [According to Michael D.Nestor, email <> Tobias L. Phillips never married but had children by, and supported, five women.] Dicienever married and had four sons; Elza Cox shares that "undoubtedly Preston's father was a Cox since he went by Cox. [After his mother's death,] Preston was placed in a foster home with a Hylton family and when they moved to Indiana, he was then placed with a Harman family [Asa & Julia] that raised him."

Luther Bowman in a 1993 interview conducted by Kathleen Ingoldsby: “Mr. Asa [had] a black-smith shop [located a very short distance down what is now King Ranch Road] but it was pretty much discontinued before my time….  I’ve seen old Mr. Asa saw lumber [in his] up-and-down sawmill [located about 400 yards downstream from his home]…. When [anyone] wanted anything done, they’d go to Asa for help and information…. [In the fall] he was the head butcher…he went to everyone’s home and helped with their butchering.  He knew more about preserving meat, I guess, than anyone else…. He seemed to just delight in doing those things for people.” [See pic of Asa's sawmill in 2009 FCHS Calendar]

Note:  An interesting tidbit about sash-type sawmills is found on p.34 of The Water-Powered Mills of Floyd County, Virginia:  “Early sash type or ‘up-and-down’ sawmills were usually powered by a primitive type of wheel called a ‘flutter wheel.’  Although wasteful of water, flutter wheels were apparently peculiarly suited to producing, via a crankshaft and pitman rod, the up-and-down motion of the sash saw. Though long gone from popular memory, this motion is memorialized in the seemingly nonsensical lyrics of the traditional folksong ‘Turkey in the Straw’: ‘I come to the river and I couldn’t get across, so I paid five dollars for an old blind hoss. He wouldn’t go ahead and he wouldn’t stand still, so he went up and down like an old sawmill.’”

       Preston & Annie Cox / Herman & Elsie Cox / Murray & Pat (Cox) Agee home

The Floyd Press, Nov.3,1933, reported that “the farm of the late Asa W. Harman was sold at public auction here Saturday in front of the Courthouse. This farm contains 191½ acres and brought $4,725.00 and Preston C. Cox became the purchaser.”

Preston C. Cox (b.7/2/1891 d.3/6/1951) married Annie Lee Hylton (d/o Millard Filmore Hylton s/o Wm. Anderson s/o John Bryant who was bro/o Burwell m. Mary Ann and bro/o Telitha m. Jacob. Millard Filmore Hylton {s/o Wm. Anderson m. Ruth Ellen Burnett} m. Elizabeth Jane Maberry). Preston & Annie’s first child was Herman Byron Cox (b.9/10/1914 d.2/6/1979) m. Elsie Loryane Trail (b.9/20/1912  d.7/17/2010, sister of Chester Trail m. Esther Bowman {d/o Luther}) Elsie and Chester were two of 15 children of William Harvey & Laura Pearl (Turner) Trail whose home was located on the Wildwood/"old Dugspur" Road and was "just up the hollow from" the Goodykoontz/ Alderman/ Grim home. [See #6] Laura Trail was midwife to many in the community.

Herman & Elsie Cox’s son Rodney and daughter Patricia “Pat” own the farm. Pat & Murray Lee Agee have lived there since 1987 and have done extensive repairs to the house. They did not replace the upper porch on the Jacob S. Harman addition and filled in the door which led out onto it. Pictures from the 1930s show the original chimney (with fireplace that was almost five feet wide) which stood between the windows facing the road; it was replaced at some point by a chimney with flues resting on logs. When the weight on the logs caused the floor in that room to sag, the logs were replaced with a concrete base for the present chimney.

A well-worn child's shoe, a mallet with its head made of a tree knot, and a portion of a Bible written in German (very likely Christopher Slusher, Sr.'s; Janet Keith now has it) were found in a back wall of the home when Pat and Murray were doing work in preparation for moving there.  

12. Site of Christopher Slusher Barn     across Laurel Branch Road from the home

Luther Bowman in 1993: “The barn had a wooden floor. A lot of people would go over there and clean their buckwheat after they had flailed it out….They’d grow buckwheat [for flour]… and it would have a tendency to loosen the land up when they’d clear a boundary of land in order to grow crops….Old Mr. Asa Harman…would grow two or three hundred bushels of wheat….and he’d just sell [it or the flour from it to those who needed] it.”        

This barn was a threshing barn, grain (buckwheat, wheat, oats, or rye) was stored in the loft, tossed down onto a tongue-and-groove floor where flails were used to separate the grain from the stalk; such a floor had a threshold (to literally hold in the grain after threshing), and the doors, both front and back, were opened to allow the wind to blow away the chaff.

Pat & Murray Agee looked into having the barn [which stood near the tree on the rise above White's Branch directly across Laurel Branch Road from the Christopher, Sr., home] restored but were told it was “rotting from the foundation up.”  After the barn succumbed to gravity and the weight of years in 1990, Pat and Murray retrieved the best logs and used them to build their present garage.  A wooden bench they retrieved from the barn is on the porch of their home.       

13. Road (no longer passable) from Christopher, Sr.’s to Jacob Slusher’s ;                                          on it: site of Jeremiah “Jerry” & Sarah “Sally” (Weddle) Slusher home                                and site of home of Millard Fillmore & Ataway "Attie"(Slusher) Slusher

From the intersection here, a road long ago removed from state (VDOT) maintenance, passed directly in front of Christopher, Sr.’s, home and garden and continued through to the Slusher School on Jacob Slusher’s land.  Jerry & Sally Slusher’s home was on this end closest to Christopher’s; Millard & Attie Slusher's home was farther down the road, close to the other end. [See #11,12,13 on accompanying map; road is denoted by dotted line to #29.]

Currently, we do not know the location of Christopher, Sr., and Eva’s, grave sites; it seems most logical that they would be close to their home. A nearby hilltop to the left along this road seems the most likely possibility. [Pat Cox Agee has shown us a location which is promising, but as of June 2017, we have not been able to begin closer examination of some stones there, imbedded in the ground with no inscriptions visible, but facing east and appearing to have some straight edges.]  When the Slusher Family Organization began gathering information in 1970 from Christopher, Sr. & Eva’s descendants, one individual recalled having “visited his grave with [her] grandmother” when she was a child, but she did not remember where the grave was. In her family’s Bible was a slip of paper having what she described as “what was on the stone”:  Christopher's name as well as his birth and death dates. Thus, we are still hopeful!

    Site of Jeremiah & Sarah (Weddle) Slusher home

Jacob & Telitha’s first child was Jeremiah Hanes(b.6/2/1820 d.6/21/1904) m. 2/14/1842 Sarah I. “Sally” Weddle  (b.9/2/1821 d/o Andrew s/o Benjamin). [Note: I have determined that Jacob & Telitha left their first home to Jeremiah when, with their youngest children, they moved in to care for Christopher and Eva in 1836. Jeremiah & Sarah's son Bennett later owned the home [See #28]. Jeremiah (often referred to as “Brother Jerry” or “Uncle Jerry”) was the first Elder/pastor of the Laurel Branch Church congregation. Part of his obituary by Harvey Weddle, gr-gr.s/o Benjamin, stated, “He was a public man and Captain of the militia, but when the Civil War ended, he enlisted under King Jesus, the Captain of salvation. His ministerial work was principally among the hills of Floyd, Carroll, and Grayson Counties, Va.; Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, and Forsyth Counties, NC. All of his travel was done on horseback, and now I must say a few words in behalf of Celem, the brother’s horse, that knew the roads and paths nearly as well as his rider: ‘Yonder comes Uncle Jerry on Celem’ was often remarked….”  

Jeremiah was a carpenter and cabinet maker. According to his own record, he made at least 166 coffins, charging $4.00 for each. Family history also credits him with inventing the "first threshing machine" in the area. He died 6/21/1904 while on a preaching mission. Jeremiah and Sarah are buried in the Jacob Slusher Cemetery.

Pat Cox Agee said that she knew that her grandfather Preston Cox and his wife moved in to care for Asa W. Harman in 1933 in his last days; they had been living “just down West Fork” in an “old house” on the farm before moving in. Further beyond that on the old road was Jeremiah and Sarah’s home, which after 1912 was owned by Flem & Fannie Jones who had lived there until 1915 when they moved to their new home (which was not far away--just a few hundred yards--beyond the cropland on Laurel Branch Road). Only a portion of the chimney (about eight feet high) now remains at the homesite. Flem's son Paul Jones sold stones from the fireplace which formed an arch featuring a keystone.  [See #26]        

    Site of home of Millard Fillmore & Ataway "Attie" (Slusher) Slusher

Millard Fillmore (b. 3/15/1850 d.5/5/1899 s/o Jeremiah s/o Jacob) 1st m. 4/8/1875 Sarah Jane Fayne (b.2/22/1860 d.12/4/1891 d/o Richard & Nancy Fayne). Sarah died when their 4th child Calvin David Slusher was one-year old.

Millard & Sarah’s 2nd child was Samuel W. Slusher (b.4/20/1879) 1st m.12/27/1900 Maude Fayne d/o F.M. & A.L. Fayne ; 2nd m. Mattie Harman.   Samuel & Mattie’s 3rd child Canary m. Arnton P. Snead s/o Abraham/Abe & Angeline (Slusher) d/o Oliver Perry s/o Jacob. [See # 42]

Millard 2nd m.11/11/1892 Telitha Ataway / "Attie" (Slusher) b. 8/7/1861 d.8/3/1925 d/o Francis Marion {s/o Jacob} & Lucy (Turman), so they were 1st cousins.  Millard & Attie’s only child was Noah Christian (b.1/13/1896 d.10/1/1962) m.11/21/1915 Lura Minda (Fayne). [See #18 and hand-drawn map showing home location in Slusher-Turman-Shockey Family Records compiled by Essie Stallings; name given as Ataway on the map]


14. Falcon Post Office / S. D. Bond’s Store

The Falcon Post Office was at this site until 1903. Louisa Texas (Snead) Lester (wife of Winfield Callahill Lester) served as its first postmistress. [Texas was d/o Francis & Caroline (Turner) Snead and sister of Abraham Snead m. Angeline Slusher d/o Oliver Perry s/o Jacob.] Callahill was a miller who in 1881 bought and ran the Charles Turman/Francis Marion Slusher mill until 1921.[See # 40, 55] Callahill and Texas bought land  10/21/1881 that included Jacob & Telitha’s second home. Callahill conveyed the 55 ½ acres to their daughter Loula M. (Lester) Dalton in 1906; she eventually sold it to George Wm. Slusher in 1922. [See #30] Callahill was said “to have been killed in an accident at the mill in 1921, after which time it was closed.” [See The Water-Powered Mills of Floyd County, Virginia. p.217]

According to a Floyd Press article, "Store's History traced to 1902" by Marguerite Tise: "This store was built in 1902 by Julius Dickerson [Dexter Dickerson's father and Julius A. Dickerson's grandfather] who also built the dwelling house, barn and other outbuildings on a 12-acre tract of land that he bought from Asa Harman.... He then moved to another location and his brother Neal and his daughter Lucy ran the store for a short time. Lather Hylton then bought the stock of goods and operated a general merchandise store until 1905, when he sold it to John P. Weeks who operated the store until 1908."

"In January 1908, Julius Dickerson sold the store building and all the property to Flemon A. and Fannie (Slusher d/o Harvey) Jones. [See #26] During Flem Jones' ownership, there was no store in this building. John Weeks moved his stock of goods across the road to a new two-story building that he built on an acre of land bought from Amon Harman (at the location of the present Laurel Branch Cemetery) where he operated a general store  until 1913. Charley Amos Hylton bought the store building and property from Flem Jones in 1913, ...bought out John Weeks [John and Ada (Bowman) Weeks moved to North Dakota], and moved his stock of goods into the first store building which became Hylton's Store. In 1918 Charley Hylton sold the entire property to S[tephen] D[ouglas] Bond for $7221; the stock of goods in the store was inventoried at $4971. [The store building was enlarged with an addition] on the side, extended in the back, and [added] a second story. Bond's Store was a community center for the Laurel Branch community and was widely known and patronized.... After S.D. Bond's death in 1957, the store was operated by his son, Graydon Bond, until his death [1/28/1969] when the store closed and went out of business, the same fate which befell many general stores throughout the county." [See picture in Images...: Floyd County, p.26] Youth of Laurel Branch Church of the Brethren currently use the building as a site from which to sell concessions to those attending Curtis & Mark Sowers' cow sale held each December.

According to their daughter Roberteen Jones Slusher, while Flem & Fannie Jones lived at the location (1908-1912), Fannie decorated the first Christmas tree in the community.  [See # 26]

15. Laurel Branch Cemetery

Dozens of citizens of the Laurel Branch community are buried here. According to Fannie (Slusher) Jones, "first land for it was given by Amon Harman."

16. Amon & Sarah (Hylton) Harman home;                                                                                 Oscar & Lydia (Harman) Duncan home;                                                                                                      now home of Jo-Ann Meneghini, 2128 Laurel Branch Rd NW

Amon P. Harman (b. 12/25/1860 d. 2/27/1927 s/o Mahala Harman d/o Jacob S. s/o Solomon & Elizabeth) m. Sarah Abagail Hylton (b.1862 d.1949 d/o Nathan {s/o Burwell & Mary Ann} m. Della Wade {d/o John & Sarah (Bishop) Wade}). Their home may be seen down the unnamed lane on the right; lane entrance is to the left of the cemetery entrance. Amon & Sarah' s 7th child Lydia (b.8/28/1896) m. Oscar E. Duncan s/o L.C. & Mary E. Duncan; they had one child, Ralph (not the Ralph Duncan from Indian Valley who owned Midway Grocery). Amon & Sarah are buried in the Laurel Branch Cemetery.

Amon served two terms as Floyd County sheriff. Amon & Sarah’s daughter  Addie (b.6/3/1885 d.6/29/1950) m. James Hardee Sumpter (b.1874 d.1907). James H. served as Floyd County Treasurer and their first child, Curtis A. Sumpter  (b.4/9/1908) was a respected Floyd attorney. [See Curtis A. Sumpter’s “The Beginnings of Floyd County” in Floyd County, Virginia History, pp.7-11]  According to information gathered by Kathleen Ingoldsby in 1988, Curtis Sumpter had a plat on parchment of Jacob S. Harman's land holdings at the time of his death as well as store account books from 1840s-1850s.         

17. Luther & Carsie (Reed) Bowman home  built @1930 at intersection with Huckleberry Rd.                                       now a rental home owned by Huckleberry Dairy/ Curtis & Mark Sowers

The Bowman ancestors were “Daniel and Jacob Bowman, German Baptist brothers who immigrated to America on the Adventurer; they arrived in Philadelphia Oct. 2,1729.” [See Floyd County, Virginia History, pp.85-86]

Cary & CatySimmons’ dau. Mary Ann m. Joshua Weddle (s/o Andrew s/o Benj.) Joshua & Mary Ann’s dau. Orlena Frances (b. 9/1/1859  d.7/25/1942) m. Daniel Bowman (b.1/7/1847)  Daniel & Orlena’s son Luther Daniel (b. 9/20/1899 d. 1996) m. Carsie Tanna Reed (1899-1977).

Luther Bowman interview with Kathleen Ingoldsby in 1993: “My father…Daniel Bowman… married Jacob S. Harman’s daughter Emberzetta. When she died, he married her sister Nancy in 1882. When she died in 1884, he married…my mother Orlena Frances Weddle…. When Jacob divided his farm father ended up with two of the divisions of the old original farm through his marriages to Emberzetta and Nancy.…[Another part] went to his son Ananias and one went to [his grandson] Amon Harman (s/o Mahala d/o Jacob S. Harman). The Amon Harman house is still standing over there. It was later Amon’s daughter, Lydia Harman Duncan’s home…. Jacob Harman’s son Asa…got the home place…and more land than the others… and always lived on it…. Of course, he stayed there taking care of his father.  I don’t really know…the boundaries… but it went down to land I knew as the Harvey Slusher farm.”[See #25]

Luther and Carsie had five children: 1- Esther m. Chester Trail, 2-Lois m. Edward Slusher s/o Wyatt & Grace (Burgess) Slusher,3-Ruby m. Robert Castle, 4-Joyce m. Leslie Pugh, 5-David.             Luther & Carsie first lived in a two-room house that Luther built across the road from his father, until Daniel became so ill that Orlena could not care for him, so they moved in to help. Ruby recalled the funeral for Daniel Bowman (d.1/26/1929), held in the living room of his home when it was snowing.

Lois vividly recalled going with sisters, Esther and Ruby, to Laurel Branch School through seventh grade: "We would walk to school, run home for lunch and then run back." Joyce only went there one year and admits that the only thing she remembers is that "it had a swing." Lois was in the first graduating class of the new Floyd High School (now Floyd Elementary) in 1940. The 1913 school building (now Schoolhouse Fabrics) became the elementary school until additions for grades one-four were added to the "new" high school building; then the 1913 building housed grades five-seven until Floyd County High School opened in the fall of 1962. [See #21,29]

Helping Luther on the farm while Esther helped Carsie (who had recurring migraine headaches) in the house, Ruby and Lois recall "hoeing corn and praying for rain!" When Luther got a riding cultivator, neither girl was tall enough to work the pedals, so one would work the pedals and the other would sit on the seat and drive the horses. All of the girls recalled having to get up early to milk the cows before going to school and also helping to pick beans [their "cash crop"] for sale either at Huff Cannery or later in Roanoke; helping neighbors pick beans would earn them ten cents per bushel.  It was a treat for the girls to take turns going with Luther to Roanoke to sell beans at the market. The girls recalled that their parents knew they also needed play time. Ruby remembered wooden boards Luther made for marble games, and "he and Mother planned parties at our house or yard and invited all the young people from the church." Luther was an ordained minister and served Laurel Branch Church of the Brethren for 47 years.

             On Huckleberry Road, a dirt/gravel road:  1st house on the left (now uninhabited)                         18. Home of Daniel & Orlena (Weddle) Bowman,  Henry & Ida (Sutphin) Burgess and               Wyatt & Grace (Burgess) Slusher

Luther Bowman in 1993: “My father [Daniel Bowman] lived on the [Jacob S.] Harman property for one year when first married.... The house that my father built is still standing…and is owned now by three of the [Wyatt and Grace] Slusher boys: my daughter [Lois]’s husband Edward Slusher and his brothers Marvin Slusher [m. Roberteen Jones d/o Fannie d/o Harvey s/o Hamilton s/o David] and Donald Slusher [m. Iletta Reed].Wyatt Clinton Slusher (b.1/4/1897 d.7/2/1974 s/o Mildredge A.{s/o Solomon,Jr. s/o Solomon} m. Sarah (Hollandsworth) m. 1919 Grace Myrtle Burgess (b.5/25/1901 d.12/30/1992 d/o John Henry & Ida (Sutphin) Burgess.  [Mildredge Slusher was a cobbler and harness maker.] Don & Iletta’s son Michael Slusher currently owns approximately five acres of “the homeplace.”

After Daniel Bowman's death, Orlena moved with Luther's family when they moved into the house Luther had built about 1930. Daniel & Orlena's house then became the home of Henry & Ida Burgess; later, their daughter Grace and husband Wyatt Slusher raised their family there.

            Gilbert & Salena (Bowman) Hylton home                                                                                                Maynard & Edith (Reed) Hylton home 392 on mail box (uninhabited)                                                    Christian & Lura (Fayne) Slusher home

Burwell & Mary Ann’s first childIra Slusher Hylton (b.1825 d.1904) 1st m. Eunice Cox (b.1830 d.1867 d/o Ambrose Cox)= five children, 2nd m.1868 Angeline Simmons (b.1842 d.1921 d/o Thomas & Tamor Booth Simmons)=seven children. Ira & Angeline’s son Gilbert Walker (b.1870 d.1957) m. Salena Ellen Bowman (b.1873 d.1957 d/o Daniel Bowman 1st m. Emberzetta Harman d/o Jacob S. s/o Solomon & Elizabeth). [See #29 and Maynard Hylton’s John B. & Nancy Howell Hylton…] Gilbert & Salena/Lena/"Leenie" built their home halfway between the Daniel Bowman and Ira Hylton homeplaces. Since they could see each other's homes, they would wave to one another [before telephones] at an appointed time to indicate that all was well. Ira’s log house near Huckleberry Branch was dismantled in the 1950s by  Chris & Lura's sons (vividly remembered  since "lots of snakes came out from its logs: black snakes and racers"). Its logs, etc., were used to build another nearby building, long after a new house had been built on the property by Chris s/o Millard [See #13] & Lura (Fayne) Slusher. This home is at the "Y" intersection just past a row of mailboxes and is visible from the Gilbert/Maynard homeplace.

Gilbert had a steam engine which he used to run a sawmill much of his lifetime. [See #19 for his connection to Laurel Branch Church]  He also used the steam engine to run a threshing machine for other farmers. Gilbert was involved in local phone service from the time individuals maintained their own lines to the installation of county-wide service. As president of the telephone company Board of Directors [now Citizens], he was instrumental in convincing APCo to allow phone lines to be strung on existing utility poles carrying electricity. In 1919 he was supervisor for  building the first  bridge across the West Fork of Little River near Jacob Slusher's second home.  Freeman Slusher: “Asa Bishop had hired…men  at 50 cents a day to…build a rock fence out of large rocks below the rock bluff above my barn. These rocks were placed on top of each other and made a fence that would turn cattle.  Part of the bottom run of rock still remains. My father [George Wm.Slusher] let Gilbert Hylton have most of the rocks out of that fence to build the first bridge across West Fork in 1919. Mr. Bishop also had big rocks hewn out of the bluff to build hearths for fireplaces.” [See #3; p.137 in 250 Years... & p.91 in Maynard Hylton's book]   JSK  Note: D.J. and I removed one large, unfinished hearth stone from that bluff and used it to make a stone bench beside the small pond we built on our Happy Hills Century Farm on Union School Road.

The eight oldest of Gilbert & Lena's children attended Harman School [See # 8] and their two youngest attended Laurel Branch School near the Laurel Branch Church of the Brethren. [See #19] The Laurel Branch School was a two-room school that opened in the school year 1919-1920 and replaced the Harman School and Slusher School. [See #21,29] Chris & Lura (Fayne) Slusher's daughter, Glenna Slusher Weddle, recalls walking (sometimes across the fields) to the Harman School for one term before the Laurel Branch School opened. She also fondly recalls sliding down pine-needle-covered banks "just for fun" along the way to and from school.

Gilbert & Lena’s 10th/youngest child: Maynard (b.3/25/1914) m. 1935 Edith E. Reed.  They moved in with Gilbert (then blind) & Lena to help with the farm and housework (a stroke had paralyzed Lena’s right side). After the deaths of Gilbert & Lena (within four days of one another), the farm went to Maynard & Edith. Their 1st child, Donald Eugene Hylton m. Brenda Slusher d/o Ren s/o Wm. Oliver s/o Flurnoy s/o Oliver Perry s/o Jacob. 

           Return to Laurel Branch Road, turn left:                                                                                         19. Laurel Branch Church of the Brethren

In 1840 Jacob Slusher gave the land for and built the Slusher School [See #29]. Jacob's son Jeremiah was among Laurel Branch community members who were active in the Brethren Brick Meeting House / Brick Church [See #1]. There, Jeremiah was elected to the ministry in 1868 and ordained as Elder in 1878. Since Laurel Branch community members had to either walk or ride horseback to the church, many were unable to attend on a regular basis. After ordination as Elder, Jeremiah held church services in the Slusher School until it was no longer used for public worship due to concerns regarding separation of church and state. The Brethren congregation then met in a grove near the school in the summer or in homes in the winter until the Brethren families (including Slushers, Harmans, Hyltons, Reeds and Bowmans) built their meeting house, the Laurel Branch Church of the Brethren. In 1902 Daniel and Orlena (Weddle, gr.d/o Caty (Slusher) Simmons) Bowman deeded land for building the meeting house. Gilbert (s/o Ira s/o Burwell & Mary Ann) and Salena/Lena/"Leenie" (d/o Daniel & Emberzetta {d/o Jacob S. s/o Solomon & Elizabeth Harman}) Hylton sawed lumber (from trees that Gilbert cut down on their homeplace) with their three young daughters (ages six, eight and nine) helping to pack the lumber used to build the simple, one-room wooden structure with wooden benches. Elder Jeremiah (“Brother Jerry”) Slusher was 83 in 1903 when the church with 69 members was dedicated; Elder R.T. Akers delivered the dedication sermon. In 1917 Laurel Branch became an organized congregation electing Ananias Harman (s/o Jacob S. s/o Solomon & Elizabeth) as Elder; he served until his death 9/1/1919.  For 40 years, Gilbert Hylton served as a lay minister and was the church's leader after Ananias's death. Daniel and Orlena’s son, Luther, began his service as minister in 1920 and was ordained Elder in 1924 after attending seminary for a year; he served until 1 Sept. 1969. From that time until the tenure of Stanley Hawkins (1981-2005), the congregation was served by six other ministers. Current pastor, Angela Tolbert Carr (d/o Steve & Mary {d/o Iva d/o Kerry Keith} Tolbert), became the congregation's first female pastor in January 2005.

The church building has been enlarged, brickcased, and improved (ex.: kitchen & community room/Sunday School rooms in basement, restrooms upstairs and down, handicap-accessible entrances to both levels, stained-glass windows in the sanctuary, etc.) and the parking area has been enlarged. [See A Country Church...)

20. Willis Ridge / Will’s Ridge

The Willis family owned much land in the ridge area that became known as Willis Ridge.  Jacob S. Harman was postmaster of Willis Ridge Post Office located in the mercantile store he owned with partner Asa L. Howard. [See #11,48] A notation in Jacob’s 1853 store ledger in Jacob’s handwriting: “changed to Will’s Ridge April 1854” indicates the time when the post office name officially became Will’s Ridge. The appearance of Willis and Will’s in cursive script is very similar, and for a time both appeared on correspondence through the post office. As time passed, the area and later the ridge itself became known as Will’s Ridge. [Since VDOT road signs do not include apostrophes, it now appears as Wills Ridge on signs.]

Another account [See "Will's Ridge Family Roots" in Floyd Virginia Magazine Vol.8, #1] presents the story of William Dulaney who came from Ireland with his wife and son, William, Jr. They settled at the foot of a ridge he called "the most beautiful place he could find" (in the area now known as Beaver Creek Community).  William III, known as "Will," and his sons (Richard, Hiram, Samuel, and Daniel) also settled at the foot of the ridge which they called "Grandfather's Ridge"; later called "Will's Ridge."  A further account of the origin of the name appears on the 1992 Historical Map of Floyd County (created by Pat Lawson of Roanoke, Va., with Marguerite Tise, consultant), "Tradition: Ridge named after a man named Wills from Franklin County who built a hunting lodge here." A poem, "Old Wills Ridge," by Dr. R.T. Akers (b.1858 d.1951, medical doctor and Brethren minister) shares another version of its history.

Note: The U.S. Postal Service often had cause to change a post office’s name: The first post office in what is now Willis was originally called Greasy Creek Post Office with Peter Slusher as postmaster. From 1866-1882, Hardin Price Hylton (s/o Austin {m. Rachel (Booth)} s/o Elizabeth Hylton {m. Henry Hylton}  d/o Elijah “the pioneer” {m. Susannah}) was postmaster. Mail was brought from Floyd (then Jacksonville) about three times a week by a man on horseback with the mail in saddlebags. [See Tise "Memories of Early Willis Days"] The name was changed to Hylton Post Office and the village became Hylton in 1880. Later, when Peter Willis became postmaster and a Hilton post office in Scott County, Va., began to cause some confusion in mail delivery, the post office's, and eventually the village’s, name became Willis.

An account [in The Hills Touch Heaven: The Shelor Book, p. 83] places a confrontation near Greasy Creek (later Hylton in 1880)  between Gen. George C. Stoneman’s Union cavalry force (of about 3500 coming into Floyd Co. from Carroll Co.) and a small group of 15-20 local Confederates, most at home on furlough or disability (including Shelor relatives: William B. Shelor, George Kitterman. and Mat Howard). The clash on the evening of April 3,1865 resulted in the death of Lt. James Madison “Mat” Howard b.1/17/1838 {s/o Joseph & Jane (Shelor) Howard} who had served in Co. B, 42nd Va. Infantry and had been discharged on a disability. [See pic in 2012 FCHS calendar] Lt. Howard was ridden down and shot to death by the lead element of the Yankee cavalry. Part of Howard's fleeing band headed back to Jacksonville to warn of the devastation that was sure to follow; others were said to have hidden in the darkness in the woods or in the nearby Pleasant Hill Cemetery. [When word reached Jacksonville, the two highest ranking civilians there, Dr. Calohill M. Stigleman (who as captain had led Co. A of the 24th Va. Regiment in 1861) and Commonwealth's Attorney Jared Williams (who had served in Co. B of the 42nd Va.) prepared to meet Gen. Stoneman with a flag of surrender to spare Jacksonville from destruction. Lookouts atop the courthouse saw Union troops and their cannons on Bishop's Hill by Dug Spur Road (near present Laurel Branch Road on the ridge behind Slaughters' Supermarket) on the morning of April 4. The troops had bivouacked along the roads and streams from Greasy Creek (later Hylton, now Willis) to Dodd's Creek west of Jacksonville (Floyd in 1896). See #41,51]

The confrontation resulting in Howard's death occurred near the home that Hardin Price Hylton built on the old Floyd-Carroll Turnpike (now Floyd Hwy S) across from the intersection with Road 787/ Indian Valley Road. [See #41,68]  Hylton later sold this house and farm in 1905 to Albert and Lillie (Helms) Gardner [See #36,68] who added its back rooms and ran a boarding house for area students attending Willis High School and the Mountain Normal School's summer sessions for teachers. When Hardin Hylton was postmaster (1866-1882), Hylton Post Office stood across the old Floyd-Carroll Turnpike from the home (now owned by Blanche Sowers). From 1890-1891 the post office was in Chrisley (s/o Hardin) Hylton's home, later the home of Hugh & Neva (Slusher) Simmons. [See pix in Images...: Floyd County, Willis P.O., p.26; Willis High School, p.56; Mountain Normal School, p.61; home & barn, pp.86,115]

21. Low Gap Road / Road 692; site of Laurel Branch School

Low Gap Road  is a short distance (on the left) from Laurel Branch Road at the intersection with Will’s Ridge Road. At this intersection Road 729 becomes Road 719. “Old Road 719” from Floyd was labeled on an early hand-drawn map as “Indian Valley Road,” perhaps suggesting that Low Gap was the road taken to and from Indian Valley in the 1800s. [See #11: Asa Harman-Preston Cox] This may explain Fannie Jones' recollection that "Preston a boy was being brought...from Indian Valley on the way to the poor farm.”  If the "poor farm" was possibly a reference to Daniel & Magdalene Spangler's home [See #3], known as a refuge for children, then this could explain why they were passing and stopped at Asa & Julia Harman's home. [JSK: This is now guesswork; can anyone confirm a location designated as a "poor farm" in this area?]

The two-room Laurel Branch School which replaced the one-room Slusher School [See #17,29] stood at this intersection. (The present brick home was built on the site of the school's foundation.) When it was no longer used as a school, Will Slusher [See #23] stored hay in it until "some boys began to slip in at night to smoke, drink and party," and Will feared they might burn it down. He sold the school house to Ennis Gardner who tore it down and hauled the boards to build a house located on West Fork just upstream from "the Falls." [See # 51]. Using horse and wagon via what is now Weddle Creek Road [See # 31], John Ennis & Lena (Harris d/o Jonas m. Mary Weddle d/o Harvey s/o Levi s/o Andrew s/o Benjamin) Gardner forded West Fork to reach their home; visitors used a swinging bridge (which was washed away in a 1980 flood). Now the home of Craig  & Patricia Knapp, the location is reached off Floyd Hwy S to 887 Falling Branch Road [See #49-52] via a private drive with gated entrance.

In “Memories of Robert Goodykoontz” which told of his life experiences during the “last half of the 19th  and first half of the 20th centuries,” he said, “We could go to Christiansburg through the Low Gap of Will’s Ridge, mostly by horseback or light buggy since it was so steep, and cut about four miles off the 21 miles from Floyd Court House to Christiansburg…on the dirt road that in wet weather had mud up to the axles of wagons and buggies.” In dry weather, “we would take the empty wagon over Low Gap and bring back the load by way of Floyd Court House” which made the return trip “about seven miles further. We would camp at the foot of Pilot Mountain on what I remember as Ellett’s Creek. There were always as many as a half dozen wagons there. There would be a campfire and we would fry our bacon, ham or dried sausage….We had apple butter and always made coffee…. One could always smell the cooking a mile before we reached the campground. There was always a gallon or so of corn licker or brandy in the crowd, also a banjo and fiddle. We would carouse all night…no place to sleep…also card games and a fight occasionally. We would holler, ‘Fight fair, fist and skull, no rocks!’”  The return route that Goodykoontz mentions here is the Christiansburg Pike (Route 615) before Route 8 was built to connect Floyd and Christiansburg. [The camp site on the Pike was also referred to as Camp Creek. See picture of the covered bridge on the Pike in Images...: Floyd County, p.23]    

Old deeds from the mid-1800s describe parts of what became, or paralleled, parts of "the Turnpike"/ U.S. 221/Floyd Highway S in the section shown on the map for this tour as “the Dugspur Road (or Dugs Spur Road or Dug Spur Road).” For example, see #6 for Robert Goodykoontz’s description of the slave quarters as being “just across the Dug Spur Road” from the main Goodykoontz house.

22. Farm owned by David & Nancy (Cox) Slusher  

David (b.9/6/1790 d.4/6/1840) m. 1809 Nancy (Cox) (b. 10/7/1794 d.6/26/1880 d/o Carter Cox s/o Matthew Cox m. Lucy Dickerson). Christopher, Sr., deeded 180 acres to David on Oct. 20, 1837. David had earlier bought land in 1816; another 274 acres from Edmund Sumpter in 1831; and 123 acres in 1832 from George Sumpter. David’s will is recorded in Will Book A, p.143, Floyd County Court 1840. Certain items in the inventory of his estate have led some to suggest that David may have had a store (i.e., “146 lbs.of manuf’d tobacco and 72 lbs. coffee”). Also, we know that his eldest son Ananais drove wagons to the nearest trade centers for such things as tobacco, coffee, sugar, etc., which people of the county could not raise themselves. Of course, it is possible that the items were simply for extended family members' and their neighbors’ needs. [See #3-Benj.Weddle, #21-Goodykoontz]

After David’s death in 1840 at age 49, an “allotment of dower” was made to Nancy (Ref: Will Book A, p.265, Floyd Co.,Va.) In it she was assigned “her dower in the lands of her late husband…her home place including the mansion house where she now resides….”  Nancy's 2nd m. 3/9/1853 was to Luke Cox b.3/23/1794 d.2/22/1862 s/o Ambrose s/o Matthew Cox (and thus her 1st cousin). They executed a marriage contract stipulating that the property then belonging to each should go to their own children by previous marriages. David and Nancy are buried side by side in the Goodykoontz Cemetery. [JSK: Does anyone know the site of "the mansion house"? This wording is in old deeds, etc., to refer to the house in which a person resided. I believe it was the home, #24, later owned by David and Nancy's son, Lewis Hamilton who bought parcels inherited from David by his mother and his siblings. Relevant documents are in possession of Bud Slusher, gr-gr.s/o Hamilton.]

David & Nancy’ssixth child Mary Ann "Polly" m. Amos Dickerson. [See #43] Amos & Polly’ssixth childLydia Darrow (b.3/15/1871 d.7/7/1938) m.James Monroe Simmons s/o Cary & Caty. Monroe & Lydia’s seventh child James Hugh m. Neva Dell Slusher (gr-gr-gr.d/o Jacob). [See #50,61] Note: Hugh often laughingly commented that he was "more Slusher" than Neva!                                                                                                                

23. William Harrison  &  Louise (Davis) Slusher home    1752 Laurel Branch Road                              present home of Charles Henry “Bud” and Betty (Brammer) Slusher

This two-story, four-square, white wood-frame home was built @ 1923 by William Harrison (b.12/6/1892 d.11/14/1963 s/o Harvey s/o Lewis Hamilton s/o David)) m. Louise (Davis) Slusher on land originally owned by David. Its style is very similar to that of the home built by Will's sister, Fannie m. Flem Jones. Bud s/o Will & Louise shares that some have referred to it as "the Built-more" since he and Betty have done interior remodeling and built more onto it. Before their children were born, Bud installed the bell from Laurel Branch School at his shop so that Better could signal him as he worked on the farm.

Bud shared memories of his older brothers, Bill and Joe, working at Jones Brickyard [See #26] and of neighborhood boys who would catch 'possums, keep them in a pen where they "fattened them like pigs" and then sold them to a fellow in the community who ate them. Like Maurice Slusher who recalls fishing for trout in the pool below "the Falls,"  Bud tells of going there in the late 1940s with his brothers: "We'd cut across the ridge, through the fields and over Toad Hill behind the Weddles' home [See #31] to the Falls."  They enjoyed cooling off in the pool and feeling the cold water as it splashed over wooden wheels still there from Monroe Simmons'  electric power plant. [See #51] When he was a boy, Bud heard a story passed down from the Civil War era of a "big cave with seven rooms at Toad Hill where all kinds of money was hidden" and where "prisoners were kept." A large flat rock beside the entrance was said to have been rolled across the entrance.  Bud tells of going there with Bill, who took a big flashlight, to find and explore the cave. They had to crawl through the entrance that was about two feet by three feet: "When Bill shone the light--shoot!!--it didn't branch off into nothing!!"  Laughing,  Bud said the rock would have been "hard for 20 men to roll," and the cave was "not big enough for much; it was really very small and only went back about ten feet into the side of the hill."

24. Site of Lewis Hamilton & Sarah (Wade) Slusher home

Lewis Hamilton (b.2/3/1831 d.10/7/1887  s/o David ) m. Sarah Wade (b.12/27/1830 d.3/6/1904 d/o Henry & Elizabeth (Cox) Wade). Hamilton & Sarah’s main house burned many years ago. Their log kitchen, a separate building, remains and stands near the curve in Laurel Branch Road in sight of their son Harvey & wife Julia’s two-story, white frame home on land on Huckleberry Creek originally deeded to David from Christopher, Sr. [JSK Note: I believe that the Hamilton & Sarah Slusher home was "the mansion house" of David & Nancy Slusher; see #22].

The 1st child of Hamilton & Sarah was Julia Ann Slusher m. Asa W. Harman [See # 11]; 3rd child of Hamilton & Sarah was Harvey m.1888 Julia Bishop d/o Asa Bishop. [See #6,34,41]    

25. Harvey & Julia (Bishop) Slusher home on the right across Huckleberry Creek                                  later home of Paul & Ava (Bond) Belcher (and now their descendants)

Harvey (b.2/22/1865 d.2/20/1939) & Julia {d/o Asa m.Elizabeth (Dodd) Bishop} built their home on the farm which Harvey inherited from his father Lewis Hamilton (who had received this land from his father David). After Harvey's & Julia's deaths (Julia d.1930), the home and the land surrounding it passed to their youngest son, Charles Asa, who retained ten acres and lived in the little house (upper end of the valley) after allowing the rest to be sold due to his nonpayment of taxes. [He is said to have intentionally used that means to cause "his mean wife" to leave him; they had no children. She left.] Bought by S.D. Bond, it was his son Glaire's home for a short time before Paul & Ava (d/o S.D. Bond) Belcher moved there after WWII and reared their eight children there.  Pictures show the double front porches to be open when Harvey Slusher built the home.

Luther Bowman in 1993: “I do remember a place down there on the Harvey Slusher farm where they burned brick [See #26; this location is just over the hill beyond the Slusher/Jones Cemetery near Flem & Fannie Jones' home)… It isn’t going to be too many years, there’s not going to be anybody around that knows anything about a lot of these things.” [JSK  Note: Luther Bowman's observation was an impetus prompting me to gather, organize and share this information.]

             At intersection with Slusher Grant Lane:                                                                                      26. Home built by Flemon Alvah & Fannie (Slusher) Jones                                                                          home of Ralph & Louise (Alderman) Hylton

Flemon Alvah Jones (b.12/19/1879 d. 6/22/1949 s/o Robert & Clementine Nowlin Jones of Franklin Co.) m. Fannie Mae Slusher (b.12/29/1888 d.3/16/1985 d/o Harvey {s/o Hamilton s/o David} & Julia Bishop {d/o Asa & Elizabeth (Dodd) Bishop}. They lived in the home (still standing) beside what was later S.D. Bond’s Store [See #14] for a few years; their son Paul was born there. They then bought the Jeremiah Slusher place [See # 13] and lived there while building this four-square home to which they moved in 1915. Children Anne, Ruth, Silas Ward, Roberteen and Katherine were born here. Both Flem and Fannie are buried in the Slusher/Jones Cemetery in the field in sight of their home; this land was originally owned by Davidand bordered the land of his brother Jacob.

In 2005 Silas Ward Jones s/o Flemon & Fannie wrote the history of the Jones Brickyard which was set up in 1935 by his father. Flem had been told that "the clay on the hill down from the cemetery was good for making bricks. Wheelbarrows [filled with] clay dug from the hill [were taken to where] the bricks were made, cut, and stacked on pallets in the machine shed...about a five-man operation. Then they were placed on the transporter and taken across the branch [Huckleberry] east to two drying sheds that were 10 ft. by 35-40 ft. long...for a couple of weeks...[before being] taken to the kiln and fired until they were cherry red. If they turned blue, it meant they were sticking together.... A retired professional brick maker named Asbury from N.C. [helped us and]...Allen Altizer, a mason from Floyd...built the kiln [made] of bricks from Salem, Va.... Arnton Snead used two layers of  brick in the walls when building the [Freezer] Shirt Factory [now home of Hey Helen, Dogtown Roadhouse, and El Charro, 302 S.Locust St.] in Floyd: the outer brick layer from Salem, the inner layer was the Joneses' brick...and a lady from Christiansburg liked the color in the brick and purchased enough to build a house. The kiln venture ended suddenly one night when the top dome of the kiln caved in...and ended Daddy's brick-making days."  On evenings when bricks were fired and the kiln fires had to be carefully tended, neighbors would gather there to help and to pass the time, often with musical instruments in hand. During the time the brickyard was in operation, various neighborhood homes had chimneys built from Jones brick.

See Roberteen Jones Slusher’s (Roberteen m. Marvin Mildredge s/o Wyatt s/o Mildredge s/o Solomon, Jr. s/o Solomon) account of her parentsin Floyd County, Virginia History [pp.112-113]: "Family-and-community oriented, Flem and Fannie were leaders in the Laurel Branch Church and community.... Strangers traveling on the road at night were never turned away. Flem was sought out for advice: for anything from 'the pitch of a roof' to counsel on personal problems. No one but he and the person ever knew about it; confidence was a sacred honor with him. Fannie also shared his generous philosophy.... In 1927 they bought a Willis Knight touring car, the first car in the community; it was amazing how many persons that car could hold with some hanging on to the running board."

In 1951 the farm and home were sold to Ralph {s/o John Burwell s/o Gilbert s/o Ira s/o Burwell & Mary Ann} & Louise (Alderman) Hylton. Ralph's mother was Malissa Ellen "Lissie" Weeks d/o James D. Weeks s/o Talitha {m. William H. Weeks} d/o Jeremiah s/o Jacob. Ralph's parents, John & Lissie Weeks Hylton, had moved to Floyd in 1928, having lived at three other locations near Floyd after their marriage in 1919. [Their farm and last home were located on the property which became the grounds for Pannill Knitting and later Cross Creek Complex. Lissie's brother Posey Weeks was father of J.P. Walton Weeks. See pic of J.P  in Images...: Floyd County, p. 100]  After their 1928 move closer to the town of Floyd, John ran a creamery station for Carnation Milk Company on Route 221near their home. (A welcome sign is currently on the site of  the "Milk House"  built by Albert Tappe/Tap Howard [See #61] at the edge of Floyd on Floyd Hwy S.) John's daughter, Shirley (Hylton) Richards, shared that John ran a collecting and holding station there for cans of cream stored in five-gallon cans. In the 1930s, some homes had hand-cranked cream separators which used centrifugal force to separate the lighter butterfat particles from the heavier skim milk. Other families simply skimmed the cream by hand after it had cooled and risen to the top of containers of raw whole milk.

Families milking only a couple of cows used their cream to make butter both for their own use and to trade for staples in Floyd stores. However, some local farmers milked many cows, sold the cream, and kept the milk for their families' use and for fattening their hogs. [Hams were also often traded for goods.]  Each farmer brought his own filled five-gallon cans to the creamery. The collected cans of cream were kept cool in troughs of cold, flowing water from the nearby stream until John transported them to the Carnation plant in Galax for processing. [See# 61]

Note:  In recent years, the Howard family shared text for the bronze plaque on the side of the remains of the building which served as the creamery/holding station. Text on the plaque:                                                          Albert Tappe Howard's Milk House                                                               This location was a former Milk House built in the late 1800's by Albert Tappe                                  Howard. Farmers brought their dairy products to the Milk House and kept them                 cold in the spring-fed creek routed through the Milk House.  Town and       county                         residents came to purchase these products. Later in the 1900's, the Milk House                              was used as a residence for farm hands.

When area farmers adapted to the market for whole milk, the cream business (and need for a cream separator) disappeared. John Hylton then established a milk route and hauled whole milk in eight-gallon galvanized cans, first to Galax, then to Riner. Many local farmers milked their cows in open lots and cooled  cans full of milk in running spring water.  Using a wheelbarrow [See ex., p.110, Images...Floyd County], sled or wagon, they then transported the cans to a collection point beside the road where the milk hauler would collect filled cans and leave empty cans (bearing identification, usually numbers) from the previous stop there--either one or two days earlier. Selling Grade C milk in this way was the means by which many farmers (Freeman M. & Ruth (Gardner) Slusher, for example) earned money to build dairy barns meeting strict sanitation specifications to sell Grade A milk (which earned more money per gallon). Other farmers continued to sell Grade C milk to supplement their other farm income.

Thanks to the efforts of John Hylton and others, many Floyd farmers (both men and women) were able to later qualify for Social Security by having earned an income from selling cream and/or milk in this way. Shirley [b. 1940] explained that John had run the creamery/holding plant  before she was born. By 1937-1938, John hauled milk in eight-gallon cans for the Carnation Milk Company into Galax. Then Carnation built a plant in Riner (across from Auburn High School) to which John hauled milk for many years. (John's son Ralph and son-in-law, Robert Richards, also later hauled milk in enclosed metal-bed trucks. Shirley noted that it was very strenuous work, for haulers were lifting the eight- and ten-gallon cans (weighing 75 to 90 pounds) at least four feet up into the truck.) Shirley lamented that she did not have pictures or other information about the creamery holding station since the last home which John built had caught on fire and burned to the ground in the mid-1960s. The home and all of its contents were destroyed. [See pp. 142-143 in Maynard Hylton's book; see Keith "Floyd's Creamery...Station"]

Slusher Grant Lane (orig. Road 692) ends on the west side of West Fork of Little River. After a flood severely damaged the  bridge, it was not rebuilt, and this western end of Road 692 (that had gone through to Rte. 8) was removed from state (VDOT) maintenance. [Stephen Byler's family and neighbors repurposed one of the bent bridge beams to form a footbridge with railing such that the stream may be crossed on foot to reach the Abundant Dawn Community, 535 Valley Dr. NW.] Beyond West Fork, Slusher Grant Lane continues as Valley Drive Road (also without VDOT maintenance) to Penn Road to Rte. 8/Webbs Mill Road. The first two-story home on the left (when going east from West Fork on Valley Drive Road) was the home of Jeremiah Albert "Cousin Jerry" Hylton (b.11/15/1873 d.11/26/1958 s/o Mary Elizabeth {1st m. John B. Hylton s/o Henry s/o Archelaus & Katherine; 2nd m. Ira Hylton} d/o Jeremiah s/o Jacob) m. Kate Dickerson (d/o George W. s/o Mary Ann {m. Amos} d/o David)     JSK Note: This land was Mary Elizabeth's "dowry" from her parents. It was her son, "Cousin Jerry,"  who lived just down-stream from George Wm. & Clemmie's log cabin at "the beech tree," who helped Clemmie save their flock of sheep after a three-day snowstorm. [See #36; see #43 for directions past Dickerson home to reach Jerry's West Fork home.]

27. Jacob Slusher Cemetery

The Jacob Slusher Cemetery is reached by going through the driveway and yard gate of the first home (Dewey & Rosa Huff's) on the right on Slusher Grant Lane. The right of way continues diagonally to the right through the pasture field to the top of the hill. The cemetery overlooks land which has been in the Slusher family for seven generations; this cemetery is visible from 837 Laurel Branch Road, home of Kevin L. Keith, gr-gr-gr-grandson of  Jacob.

Jacob (b.9/2/1797 d.10/3/1871) & Telitha (as her name appears in Jacob's Bible [in possession of Janet Slusher Keith], although it appears as Telithe on her gravestone, Talitha, even Tabitha or Tildie on some records; b.2/8/1800 d.3/26/1875) are buried in this well-kept cemetery that is located on the hill between their first home (at left) and the threshing barn and site of their last home (at right). The Floyd County part-time stone carver, Mahlon Whitlock, used soapstone blanks and distinctive lettering; his work on Jacob’s gravestone is particularly distinctive. Described in Kathleen Ingoldby’s “Remember Me—Grave Art in the Blue Ridge”: Central on the stone is the rounded fylfot cruciform sign (also called “whirling raindrops”); its “original meaning was one of well being…after the 3rd century, it signified an unrevealed cross of Christianity…. The Slusher stone has elongated arrows pointing inward. Arrows represent mortality…. The fylfot is surrounded by three concentric circles, within the outer two are twelve five-sided stars. This crown of twelve stars is a sun metaphor depicted in Biblical verse (Rev.12:1): ‘And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” The star is also the symbol of Christ.[See pic in 250 Years...]

Jeremiah H. & Sarah (Weddle) Slusher and numerous others are buried here. Maurice Trent Slusher s/o George L. s/o George Wm. s/o Perry s/o Jacob organized the Jacob Slusher Cemetery Committee and Fund for the purpose of maintaining this cemetery. Current trustees are Kevin L. Keith and Alice P. Slusher d/o R.O. Slusher, Jr. s/o Roger O.,Sr. s/o George Wm. s/o Perry s/o JacobAlice has the record, prepared by Maurice, of all individuals buried here.

28.  Jacob & Telitha (Hylton) Slusher's first home-until about 1836                                                       in pasture field to right off Slusher Grant Lane; access with permission from Kevin Keith

According to family history, this weather-boarded two-story log house was the first home of Jacobb.9/2/1797 d.10/3/1871 m.11/5/1818 Telitha b.2/8/1800 d.3/26/1875. Considering the  date of their marriage, it was likely built in 1818. The larger of the two ground floor rooms served as living room/ bedroom/kitchen (cooking done in the fireplace). The smaller room served as a bedroom for children and had stairs to the upper floor, which was divided into two rooms. The kitchen addition seen there now was added in later years (likely by Bennett); until the 1960s, the kitchen had a small covered porch extending from it.

From the letter [See H of #11] written by Burwell Hylton (Telitha's brother) to Christopher, Jr., who had moved his family to Missouri, we know Jacobmoved in with Christopher, Sr., and Eva in 1836 to care for them and remained there until after Christopher, Sr.’s death 12/11/1845, after which  Jacob and Telitha built their second home two hills over from this home [See #30]. [Note: I have determined that Jacob & Telitha left this home to their oldest child Jeremiah (then 16) when, with their youngest children, they moved in to care for Christopher and Eva in 1836. [See #13].    

This part of Jacob’s land, about 50 acres, was later owned by James Bennett b.1851 (s/o Jeremiah s/o Jacob) m.1870  Nancy (Dickerson) Slusher, and their family (six children) lived in the house. Their youngest daughter Julina and her five children were also there from 1916-1918. From an account by Julina Slusher Conner Whitby’s granddaughter, Carol Conner Loope: Julina and James Conner had been married 10 years and had five children when their marriage broke up in 1916. After the divorce, Julina and the five children moved in with her parents (“Ben & Nannie”) and two others then in the home. “There was not a lot of social life…and Julina asked the mail carrier about a pen pal. People seeking such contacts would sometimes write to postmasters and ask to be put in touch with someone. So she began a correspondence with Lawrence Whitby, owner of a farm in Prentice, Wisconsin, who was taking a horticulture course at Boston College. Within two years he had sent train tickets for her and her five children to come to Prentice. She accepted the invitation, arrived there April 13, 1918, and not long thereafter she and Whitby were wed.”  Bennett’s son Jacob/Jake sold the house/property to George Wm. who eventually sold it to Freeman in 1927; thus, it has continuously belonged to Christopher Sr.'s descendants.

George Wm. had received the fifty acres (upon which he & Clemmie built both their log cabin and “the River house”) from his father Perry who had received it from Jacob (and Jacob from Christopher, Sr., in 1838, after the formation of Floyd County in 1831 and the requirement that formal deeds of property be filed. Jacob was living with/caring for Christopher, Sr., at that time). [See grant/deed in 250 Years..., pp.82, 251]  After moving to Floyd from Rush Fork and buying this house and property, George Wm. rented out, or provided, this "Jacob Slusher house" and “the River house” to tenants who “were willing to work on the farm.”  Freeman bought the house and 50 acres from George Wm. in 1927. Charles Gathercole and his family, then Flemon Wade, lived there until Freeman's brother, George Lester, and his family lived there for over a year after their home (Jacob's second home)  burned in 1936. Then a Mr. Akers was the last tenant to live there; he was asked to leave after allowing a corn crop to ruin (did not shuck and gather it) that he was growing for a percentage. Freeman, Ruth, and Nancy (b.1941) moved into the house in 1943; Janet was born in 1946. They lived here until the move in 1949 to their brick home and cinderblock dairy barn (at what is now 837 Laurel Branch Road), paid for by the money they earned from milking cows in the outdoor milk lot near the springhouse (where the milk cans were cooled) at the bottom of the hill. [JSK Note: I have the hollowed-out soapstone from that springhouse in my backyard rock/memory garden.]  

Last to live in this house after 1949 were Flemon “Flem” Wade and his sister Cassie (Wade) Kinley. Flem and Cassie were children of Isaac & Martha (Moran) Wade; Cassie had been taken in, at age three when their mother died, and raised by Asa W. {s/o Jacob S. s/o Solomon & Elizabeth} and Julia (Slusher d/o Hamilton {s/o David} & Sarah) Harman. Asa & Julia also later raised Cassie’s daughter Lillian Kinley who married Price Bower. [See #11] Flem was nine at the time of their mother's death in 1892. The 1900 census listed Flem as "servant" living in the home of Daniel and Magdalene Spangler [See # 3,11]; Flem and Cassie's older brother Joshua (b.1872) who married Amanda Spangler (only child of Daniel and Magdalene) had died in 1899.     

Flem and Cassie had been living in “the River house” during the time (1943-1949) when Freeman, Ruth, Nancy and Janet lived in this house. Flem and Cassie were not charged any rent; as he was able, Flem helped Freeman and George L. to do farm work. Silas Ward Jones noted that Flem helped in the Jones Brickyard about 1935. "Flemon liked to wheel the wheelbarrow [filled with] clay dug from the hill [to where] the bricks were made, cut, and stacked on pallets in the machine shed." At that time, Flem lived on the Jones' land in a small cabin with a dirt floor a little further down Huckleberry Creek from the brickyard.[See # 26]     

JSK Note: I remember Cassie and Flem as being very kind to me when I was a child. When I would go with Daddy to check on cattle on the back side of the farm, we would stop to check on Cassie and Flem. I know they received a monthly check from some source ("welfare"?), for I recall a time when Flem, riding his bicycle, had just returned from S.D. Bond’s Store and had a very large bunch of bananas among the items he had bought after cashing their check(s). Cassie insisted that Daddy let me have one of the bananas, so Daddy finally told me to accept one (which was a treat). I remember thinking that Flem was “too old” to be riding a bicycle. Bud Slusher recalls that before Flem had his bicycle, he loved seeing Flem on his converted jalopy which had no top, had a bucket or nail keg for a driver's seat, and a flat wooden bed in back. Bud remembered hearing "the racket" of him coming down the hill past his granddad, Harvey Slusher's, and making sure there was no one (or no chickens) in the road for Flem to hit as he "flew past," half standing, half squatting at the steering wheel.  I also recall that Cassie and Flem had at least two dogs and many cats which they kept in the house. They also had a Victrola which Flem would "crank up" to play his 78 rpm records for us while we visited.

29. Site of Slusher School         was on the left in hollow behind present home                                                  of John & Jolee (Harmon) Crawford, 1189 Laurel Branch Road NW

Jacob Slusher was a farmer and carpenter who gave the land for and built a “house for school teaching.” Found among the papers of Miss Mollie Thompson, school teacher [See ref. in #3 Harter Connections; her white, two-story home, on left at 2787 Floyd Hwy S was later the home of Walter & Nancy Gillespie; see ref. in #60, 67], was a reference by Dr. R.T. Akers in his "History of County Schools in 1881" that the Slusher School was the "first house built in the county at the time for school teaching except for the Jacksonville Institute.” Other vacated dwelling houses were then being used for schools, but this was the first built expressly to be a school. From Nov.11,1936 The Floyd Press: “The thought that all children should have an opportunity to go to school and obtain the rudiments of an education was Jacob Slusher’s determination, when in 1840, he erected [a] cabin located on his farm, situated on the waters of West Fork, about four miles west of town…. Here the neighboring children received a rudimentary education: reading, writing and spelling, being the major and about the only subjects, but they were thoroughly taught….”

Harvey Slusher s/o Hamilton s/o Davidwas a teacher in this school. After he was ordained as Elder in 1878 in the Brick Church, Jacob’s son, Jeremiah, began to hold church services in the school. Many Brethren in the Laurel Branch community were unable to regularly attend services at the Brick Church, a distance of several miles to walk or ride horseback. The congregation met in the school “until the school board ordered that no church services could be held in school buildings” [from The Floyd Press 11 June 1936] due to concerns regarding separation of church and stateJeremiah’s home was on the road [Entrance may be seen to the right past 1189 Laurel Branch Rd. It was long ago removed from state (VDOT) maintenance] that went from the school here on Jacob’s land to Christopher Slusher, Sr.’s. The Brethren congregation met in a grove near the school in the summer or in homes in the winter until their meeting house, the Laurel Branch Church of the Brethren, was completed in 1903. [See #19] 

School year 1918-1919 was the last for the Slusher School; it closed and students went to the new, two-room Laurel Branch School [See #17,21]. Identified in a picture [in JSK personal files] of the last students to attend were Kerry Keith, Mildred Harmon, the Trail twins, Edith Keith, J.W. Hylton, Paul Jones, ?Trail, Earl Slusher, Annie Jones (too young to attend but a frequent visitor), Howard Keith, Izola Hylton, Swanson Sowers, Moody Keith, Hugh Slusher, Asa Reed, Corrine Martin, ? Trail, Mildred Slusher, Maza Gathricole, Sally Slusher, Nina Reed, Hersie Duncan, ? Sowers, Dorothy Harmon, Pearl Reed, Temple Duncan, Manda Keith, Bertha Reed, and Malissa Reed, teacher.

The school building no longer exists; its remains on the location were still visible until the early 1960s. It stood in the hollow approx. 50 ft. behind the present home of John & Jolee (Harmon) Crawford d/o James s/o Edgar Harmon & Mary Slusher d/o George Wm. s/o Perry s/o Jacob.

30. Jacob Slusher Barn / Site of Jacob & Telitha Slusher home (after 1845)                                         Site of Winfield Callahill Lester &         Louisa Texas (Snead) Lester home (after 1881)                George Lester & Callie (Weeks) Slusher (after 1925 until 1936)

    Jacob Slusher Barn visible on hill to left of Laurel Branch Road                                              

In a threshing barn, grain (wheat, oats, or rye) was stored in the loft, tossed down onto a tongue-and-groove floor where flails were used to separate the grain from the stalk; such a floor had a threshold (to literally hold in the grain after threshing), and the doors, both front and back, were opened to allow the wind to blow away the chaff. At some barns after flailing/threshing, the grain and remaining chaff would be taken outside on a sheet or canvas on a windy day, and the wind would blow away the chaff, leaving the grain as it was tossed into the air over a large wooden holding box.

Jacob’s threshing barn was built before the Civil War, probably around 1846. The barn’s framework used mortise-and-tenon with peg joinery. George L. Slusher built the milking parlor and shed additions onto Jacob’s pre-Civil War barn.)  [JSK Note: I remember admiring the beauty of the interior woodwork (mortise & tenon joinery) when, in my early teen years, I was helping to pack hay bales in its loft for Uncle George (who owned the barn and farm adjoining my father’s “S” Farm). I have a DVD made from a videotape by Bob Shelor with R.O. Slusher, Jr., sharing his knowledge and memories about the barn.]

    Home site of Jacob & Telitha (after 1845):                                                                                   Jacoband Telitha had built their second home, probably by 1846, down the hill from the barn. In the letter dated June 4, 1836, from Burwell Hylton to Christopher, Jr., who then lived in Missouri, Burwell said, “your father and mother are in common health and Jacob Slusher has moved there to take care of them.” Jacob’s mother Eva died about 1837 and Christopher, Sr., died 12/11/1845. After Christopher, Sr.’s death, Jacob returned to his farm here. 

Jacob & Telitha’s second home stood to the right of the plantation road (after entering the  gate) a short distance from the small building near the present line fence. Their home had four fireplaces, featuring a five-foot-wide one in the kitchen. [Similarly, a five-foot-wide fireplace was in the original portion of Christopher, Sr.'s, home. Its exterior chimney was removed when the home was renovated (probably by Preston Cox). A chimney with flue resting on log foundation replaced it; a concrete foundation for it exists there now.] George Lester Slusher (10th child of George Wm. & Clemmie) m. 11/19/1924 Callie Lillie (Weeks d/o Elijah m.Laura Turman d/o Peyton s/o Christopher s/o Barbara). They purchased 1/1/1925 from George Wm. the 55 ½ acres that George Wm. had bought 2/1/1922. It was part of the land conveyed from Jacob in 1871 to his sons Jeremiah and Francis Marion. [That land, which included Jacob & Telitha’s 2nd home, had been bought 10/21/1881 by Winfield Callahill Lester & Louisa Texas (Snead) [See #14]. They conveyed the 55 ½ acres to their daughter Loula M. (Lester) Dalton in 1906; she eventually sold it to George Wm. in 1922.] George L. and his family lived in Jacob & Telitha’s home until it burned to the ground in 1936; their later garden was on the house site. Jane Slusher Williams’ present home (973 Laurel Branch Rd) is on adjacent land: first owned by Christopher, then Jacob, Jeremiah & Francis Marion, George Wm., George L., and now Jane.

After the home and all contents burned in 1936, George & Callie (Weeks) Slusher built the two-story white frame house next to Laurel Branch Road. They and their four children (Maurice, Betty, Lane and Jane) lived in the first Jacob Slusher house [See #28] while building their new home. At the time, they expressed how grateful they were to family and neighbors who generously helped them to build and furnish their home (which has been a rental home since the George & Callie Slusher estate sale).

31. Francis Marion & Lucy (Turman) Slusher home / Thomas  "Tom" & Loula Weddle                  present home of Edna (Keith) Weddle , 194 Weddle Creek Road NW

Jacob & Telitha’s 4th child  Francis Marion(b.3/24/1829  d.2/24/1900) m.1849 Lucy Turman b.6/8/1825 d.6/7/1890 {d/o Matthew (b.1793 d.1874) s/o Charles (b.1763 d.1849) m. Lucy Charlotte (Hylton d/o Elijah & Susannah)}. [See #37,65]

From Deed Book K, p.401: “This deed made the 27th day of August 1860 between Jacoband Telitha his wife of the one part and Francis M. Slusher of the other part…Jacob Slusher and Telitha his wife for and in consideration of the sum of $1 to them in hand paid…hath given, granted and sold unto Francis M. Slusher…one certain tract of land lying on the West Fork of Little River containing 154½ acres…in a line of Widow Howard’s [d/o Jacob Helms, she 2nd m. Asa L. Howard and lived at “Rose Hill,” see #48] land formerly [Charles] Turman’s…in a line of Weaver’s formerly [Benjamin] Dodd’s….”   

During the Civil War, Marion in Clark’s Battalion, 30th Va. Regiment (as was his brother Oliver Perry) wrote to his family from an improvised hospital shelter just outside Fredericksburg: “My dearest wife:…Now Lucy, you must be brave.  I have been wounded, but I am improving. The bullet hit me in the left hip, and has given me a good deal of pain, but I am gradually beginning to walk again. Lucy, you must continue to pray for me without ceasing that for my part in this miserable war that I shall do the right thing. My commanding officer has offered me a commission, but God knows I want no more responsibility for the evil killing war than I already have. So I shall not accept the commission. I pray that soon this awful struggle will be over and we can all go home and live in peace.”

This commission to return home likely involved a commitment to round up any deserters in Floyd County—as described by Marion’s first cousin Lorenzo Dow (s/o Burwell & Mary Ann) Hylton in Co. D, 54th Virginia Regiment. Lorenzo wrote to his wife Barbara Ellen (b.7/7/1811 d/o Margaret Weddle {d/o Benjamin} m.2/1/1816 Samuel Huff) on April 4,1863: “…Capt. [Austin] Harman [promoted to Major 4/27/63 m. Sarah Harter; after the war ended, he built a home on his Rush Fork farm that he sold to George Wm. Slusher in 1892. See #33] wanted me to come home yesterday morning but I would not come as he wanted me to come and take up deserters.  I would not agree to it as thare is line alredy enough full a bout deserters and enough kild so I did not want any thoughts on me a bout takeing up deserters, but I hope the time will come that I can git to come home with out coming on such an occation….” Lorenzo wrote to Barbara on April 13, 1863: “…I state to you…that to the best of my recollection I wrote to him [his 1st cousin, Jeremiah H. Slusher] that I could give the dunkards [Brethrens]credit for being opposed to this [war] and they were right in being against it….”  [See Smithfield Review, Vol.16, 2012] Lorenzo never did get to come home. Wounded 11/25/1863 at the Battle of Missionary Ridge in Tenn., he died 2/13/1864 in a hospital in Marietta, Ga., where he was buried.

Calvin Slusher (s/o Millard) shared the family story that Marion “declared he would not kill any man. However, in the pressure of battle, it seemed he must either kill or be killed. So he raised his gun and aimed it, ready to pull the trigger. Just then, he caught a Minie ball in his hip.” [See Slusher-Turman-Shockey Family Records compiled by Essie Stallings d/o Dollie Slusher, 8th child of Francis Marion {s/o Jacob} m. Lucy Turman {d/o Matthew s/o Charles}]

Essie Stallings shared the family story of Marion’s return home: Marion finally returned home after being away at war for three long years—during which time Lucy and their three young children labored to do the farm work: plowing, planting, hoeing, harvesting. Coming around the bend [See #39] and seeing West Fork and his home, Marion saw two youngsters running: seven-year-old Tas and nine-year-old Sarah Ellen. After the horse-drawn carriage forded West Fork, the driver stopped. Eleven-year-old Leroy ran from the barn, and Lucy, hearing the sounds of the carriage and of her children, dropped the wooden bowl of dough she was kneading and ran down through the gate to meet the carriage. As Marion, still walking with a slight limp, headed with his family up the path to the house, Leroy asked, “Did we win the war, Father?” Marion looked at his eldest son thoughtfully for a moment, then answered, “Our great country won, Son, and it is still ONE! May God grant it shall always be so.”

According to Fannie Slusher Jones in 1973: "Marion and wife are buried on hill on George [L.] Slusher's place, left side of road going toward Laurel Branch Church, straight up the hill from the new bridge [at Weddle Creek Road].... no fence, trees and weeds...small dark stones." [See Slusher Family Organization records]

Land which included the Francis Marion Slusher home and mill as well as  Jacob & Telitha’s 2nd home  was bought 10/21/1881 by Winfield Callahill Lester & Louisa Texas (Snead) Lester. [See #14,30]  Thomas Tazewell “Tom” & Loula (Alderman) Weddle  bought and moved to the house [from the house beside Chic's Antiques in Floyd] and farm in 1935 after Tom's three terms as postmaster of Floyd Post Office; Tap was 12 years old.  Millstones “from Marion Slusher’s Grist Mill” were given by Tom and Loula to Walter Turman and were placed “in the lawn of E.L. Turman’s son" [at 203 Nira St, Floyd]. [See picture of the millstones in Slusher-Turman-Shockey Family Records, and see The Water-Powered Mills of Floyd County, Virginia, p.217] After Tom {s/o Elkanah s/o Levi s/o Andrew s/o Benjamin} & Loula, their son Talmadge  T."Tap" & Edna Keith {d/o Kerry m. Bula (King) Keith} Weddle raised their three children, Diana, Tommy, and Lester, in the home; now Edna and son Lester live there.

Note: When crossing the West Fork bridge beside the entrance to Weddle Creek Road, look toward Floyd to see a portion of the old roadbed on the left side of the hill. (Harvey Bishop and Harvey Slusher started that road on the hillside going down to Harvey Bishop's house by plowing a deep furrow for the upper set of wagon wheels to follow, thus holding the wagon on the hillside; current Laurel Branch Rd is on the right side of the hill.)[See #6, 38]  The old road's ford/crossing was on the west side of the rock cliff in the bend of West Fork. The current bridge was built after the first one (built in 1919 by Gilbert Hylton with stones given by George Wm. Slusher from the fence built by Asa Bishop [See #18]) was taken out by hurricane flood waters; the west-side abutment of the 1919 bridge is still visible.




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