Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Melungeon Indians_Part II Collins

The Information on Benjamin Collins Family is from Will Allen Dromgoole 
who boarded at the home of his descendants in 1890. 

"The Malungeons believe themselves to be of Cherokee and Portuguese extraction. They cannot account for the Portuguese extraction. They cannot account for the Portuguese blood, but are very bold in declaring themselves a remnant of those tribes, still inhabiting the mountains of North Carolina, which refused to follow the tribes to the Reservation set aside for them  W.A. Dromgoole


Old Benjamin Collins, one of the pioneers, was older than Vardy, but came to Tennessee a trifle later. He had quite a large family of children, among them Edmond, Mileyton, Marler, Harry, Andrew, Zeke, Jordon. From Jordan Collins descended Calloway Collins who is still living today and from whom I obtained some valuable information.

Mr. Thomas M Sharpe, draughtman and architect, leaves this morning 
to join Miss Will Allen Dromgoole in the Cumberland Mountains for the 
purpose  of making some illustrations for articles to be published for her. 

Miss Dromgoole writes that she has found the "Melungeon people"
 in East Tennessee and will write them up. 


 Saponi village was a musket shot from Fort Christiana   
the village cabins were all joined making a circle with
 3 passages 6 feet wide each, the doors all faced
 inside the circle while the center of the circle was a 
tree stump which the 12 head men spoke on

Calloway Collins

Calloway Collins is an Indian if ever one set foot on Tennessee soil.  He is very fond of his red skin, high cheek-bones and Indian like appearance.
His cabin has two rooms, connected by a kind of shed.  There are dirt floors in one room and the shed, but the other room has a floor of oak logs with the bark still on them and laid side by side, just as they came from the forest.  A bed of dry, last year's leaves was the only furnishing the room could boast.
The cooking and eating were done in the connecting shed, and a large coffee-pot always occupied a low shelf just above the table, for Calloway, like most of the Malungeons, is a slave to coffee and drinks it instead of water throughout the day and night.  Calloway himself is a king, a royal good fellow, who, seated upon a great stump that marks the fate of a giant beech that grew precisely in the center of the site selected by the Indian for his shed, or hallway,  would entertain me by the hour with his songs and banjo-picking and stories of his grandfather.
The man's very instincts are Indian.  He sleeps in leaves, inside or out, as he feels inclined.  He smokes almost unceasingly; so often, in fact, that his wife, Ann Calloway, finds it necessary to cultivate a 'torbacy spot'' for her ''ole man ter smoke up.''
They have fourteen children and grandchildren, but Calloway is especially fond of Dorcas, who, he declares, "shows the Injun in her."
And truly she does, with her dark sullen face, black hair and small eyes, Dorcas, however is a true type of the Malungeon belle.

He was very tall and straight, with hawk-like eye, and long, coarse hair that fell about his well-shapen shoulders with that careless abandon which characterizes the free child of the forest. He wore neither shoes nor stockings, and his trousers were rolled back above the strong, well formed knee, showing the dusky skin which marked him of a race other than white or black.

Indian: the grandson of a chief, and the son of a full-blooded Cherokee. Such he claimed, and the most dubious would have yielded the point when, entering a small clearing near the bluff's edge, he mounted an overhanging rock and bent his sharp, penetrating gaze down upon the valley below, warm with the October sunset. No lynx-eyed warrior ever scanned the white man's country with more earnest thoroughness than did he that mist-mellowed, far-away valley of the Clinch.

The dark face of the Malungeon grew stern. He had felt some pride in being “a charmer” for the afflicted and the bewitched — but his religion well, he was not prepared to give that up; he had only just begun to learn to feel at home in it. Still, it was good to be healer; his grandfather, old Jordan Collins, had been a healer too, - a healer and a chief; a full-blooded Cherokee chief. No doubt about that: it was on the records.

The musician ceased playing: the fiddle lay across his knee. Now and then his hand strayed among the mellow old strings, but only to caress them. His thoughts were far away among the days when old Jordan Collins had fiddled for the young people on Newman's Ridge and Black Water Swamp. Old Jordan was an Indian, “Soft Soul they called him, and he had been respected by the whites. No man had ever dared call old Jordan a negro: he was a Cherokee, feared and respected as a Cherokee.

And very like a king he looked, upon his rude, improvised throne. A king: the last of the kings indeed ; the last full-blooded male representative of that strange, unclaimed clan — the Malungeons. A chief! such he felt himself for one brief, transitory moment. And these were his people, this handful, which the wanton vagaries of fancy multiplied to myriad millions. His eye kindled, his full chest rose and fell, while the old sparkle danced in his eye, and the proud flush sprang to his dusky cheek.

“Yes, King. Sing yer gran'dad's song - Ole Jording's song."

The fiddle did not trouble itself to follow the voice. With his hand he still twanged the old dance-melody, while the strong, stern, quiverless voice broke into the quaint, rhymeless hymn that he sung at the meeting-house, at the graveyard above the newly-dead, or in the echoing forest as he tramped home at noon or at midnight from the still.

“Stay, brother Green, do come ter me,

Fur I air shot en bleeding,
An' I mus' die, no mo' ter see

Meh wife en meh deah chilring."
“Meh lillul chilring I loves 'em so.”

“() cud I once mo'see 'em,
An' gi' thum ther las' fai’well word,
Tell we shall meet in Heavin."

 "They have fourteen children and grandchildren"
[Calloway's Family - Count Them]


Old Benjamin Collins, one of the pioneers, was older than Vardy, but came to Tennessee a trifle later. He had quite a large family of children, among them Edmond, Mileyton, Marler, Harry, Andrew, Zeke, Jordon. From Jordan Collins descended Calloway Collins who is still living today and from whom I obtained some valuable information

The original Collins people were Indian, there is no doubt about that, and they lived as the Indians lived until sometime after the first white man appeared among them.   Will Allen Dromgoole ~1890 
“Vardy Collins, Shepherd Gibson, Benjamin Collins, Solomon Collins, Paul Bunch and the Goodmans, chiefs and the rest of them settled here about the year 1804, possibly about the year 1795, but al these men above named, who are called Melungeons"  Lewis Jarvis ~1903


A race of people mostly by the name of Collins and Mullins live on the top, and along the spurs of Newmans Ridge, and some of them in a fertile valley called, "Blackwater," "history tells not of their origin," but as far as I can learn from the oldest ones among them, their ancestors came there from "Reed Island" about the beginning of the present century.  
VIATOR." Rogersville, Tenn. January 1876

Benjamin appears on the Grayson County Virginia Tax List with Milleton Collins through the years 1794 until 1802 when Milleton and Avy sell their land on Big Reed Island.  Benjamin of course named two of his sons Milleton and Benjamin who lived on top and along the spurs of Newmans Ridge.

Fincastle County 1773 Delinquent Tax Lists: David Collens, Elisha Collens, Ambrus Collens, Samuel Collens, John Collens, Lewis Collens, John Collens Junr., George Collens, Charles Collens. On James McGavock's List of Delinquents. At a Court held for Fincastle Decr 6 1774 "This List of delinquents on New River & Reed Creek was received by the Court containing 213 Tithables and is that ought to be Received by the Vestry of the Parish of Botetourt. W. Ingles"

The Fincastle 1772 and 1773 list includes: David (Indian lands), Ambrose, John, John Jr., Charles (Indian lands), Elisha, Samuel (Indian land), Lewis, George (Indian land) Collins and Micajer Bunch (Indian Land).

1794 Grayson County 
[Cut from Wythe, Wythe from Montgomery cut from Fincastle 1775] 

Millinton Collins 5-10-1783 Montgomery Co., Virginia.
[Note; In 1781 after the War, Lewis Collins returned home to find his father had moved to
Montgomery Co., Virginia]
80 acres Big Reed Island Pine & Snake Cr [in modern Carroll Co.] & New River Grants 29-325

FEBRUARY 22, 1802 - Grayson County, Book 1, pages 480-481.
From Milleton Collins of Grayson County to James Bobbett of Grayson County, for 80 acres of land, lying and being on the waters of Big Reed island, the waters of New River

Thomas Collins was living on the Flatt River in 1777 when it was cut from Orange County to form Caswell County.  The first Caswell County Tax List included Martin, Paul, Milleton/Middleton and Charles Collins.  

Solomon Collins born 1763 Johnston Co., North Carolina entered the Revolutionary War from Caswell County Pension Application Excerpt


Thursday, March 10, 2022

John Sizemore M.D.

I have lost the Newspaper source for this article somewhere in my files

John Sizemore, M. D. The community of Prestonsburg has had the services of Doctor Sizemore, a competent physician and surgeon, for the past ten years, and the name has been identified with the medical profession in this part of Eastern Kentucky for upwards of half a century.

Dr. John Sizemore was born in the Big Sandy Valley on Bull Creek two miles above its mouth February 8, 1871, son of Doctor Faries and Mourning (Clark) Sizemore. His great-grandfather was George G. Sizemore, a quarter blood Cherokee Indian who came from the Cherokee Reservation in Eastern Tennessee and spent his last years in Magoffin County. The grandfather of Doctor Sizemore was also named John and was a Union soldier in Company F of the Thirty-nmth Mounted Infantry during the Civil war. His death was the result of an accident in Magoffin County, though his home was on Beaver Creek.

Dr. Faries Sizemore was born on Turkey Creek, a tributary of the Beaver, in 1846. He was a youthful soldier in Company F of the Thirty-ninth Kentucky Mounted Infantry and with this command was in the fighting at Mount Sterling, Cynthiana and Kings Saltworks. He had a cousin, a noted rebel spy, known as Rebel Hawk, and this cousin effected the capture of Faries Sizemore, and the latter remained a prisoner of war for only a few days. Following the war Faries Sizemore studied medicine and all the rest of his life was a deep and devoted student of the science and enjoyed a very high and deserved reputation for his skill in practice. He practiced in Floyd and Carter counties, and finally retired and lived at Paintsville, where he died September 16, 1900. He was a member of the Grand Army Post, also voted as a .republican, and he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The wife of Dr. Faries Sizemore, Mourning Sizemore, is now eighty-five years of age and lives with her son John. She was born in Kentucky of an old Virginia family. There is one other child, Minnie, wife of M. H. Blivens.

Dr. John Sizemore acquired his early education in the common schools of Floyd and Carter counties, began the study of medicine in his father's office, and subsequently entered the Starling Medical College of Columbus, Ohio, and from there transferred to the Medical College of Ohio at Cincinnati. He was graduated April 9, 1896. Doctor Sizemore has been in active practice for a quarter of a century, beginnmg his professional work at South Portsmouth, Kentucky, later at Ashland, and since 1911 at Prestonsburg. He enjoys a large general practice and is a member of the various medical societies.

In 1889 he married Miss Emma Akers, daughter ot S K. Akers of Van Lear. Their only son Faries Palmer died in childhood. Doctor Sizemore is a Methodist while Mrs. Sizemore belongs to the Missionary Baptist Church. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Knights of Maccabees and the Red Men and is a republican voter.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Melungeon_Indians Part1 Collins


The Melungeon Indian Families of Tennessee


Will Allen Dromgoole ~ 1890  

There is, perhaps, no more satisfactory method of illustrating this peculiar race, it's origin and blood, than by the familiar tree. Old Vardy Collins, then, must be regarded as the body, or main stem, in this state, at all events.

It is only of very late years the Melungeons have been classed as families. Originally they were tribes, afterward clans and at last families. From Old Vardy the first tribe took it's first name Collins. Others who followed Vardy took the Collins name also.

Old Benjamin Collins, one of the pioneers, was older than Vardy, but came to Tennessee a trifle later. He had quite a large family of children, among them Edmond, Mileyton, Marler, Harry, Andrew, Zeke, Jordon. From Jordan Collins descended Calloway Collins who is still living today and from whom I obtained some valuable information.

But.....go back a step. Benjamin Collins was known as old Ben, and became the head of the Ben's tribe. Old Solomon Collins was the head of Sol's tribe. The race was increasing so rapidly, by emigration and otherwise, that it became necessary to adopt other names than Collins. They fell ,curiously enough, upon the first or Christian name of the head of a large family connection or tribe. Emigrants arriving attached themselves as they chose to the several tribes. After a while, with an eye to brevity, doubtless, the word "tribe" was dropped from ordinary, everyday use. The "Bens" the "Sols" meant the Ben and Sols Tribes. It appeared that no tribe was ever called for Old Vary, although as long as he lived he was recognized as head and leader of the entire people.

This is doubtless due to the fact that in his day the settlement was new, and the people, and the one name Collins covered the entire population. The original Collins people were Indian, there is no doubt about that, and they lived as the Indians lived until sometime after the first white man appeared among them.

  Lewis Jarvis  ~ 1903

“Vardy Collins, Shepherd Gibson, Benjamin Collins, Solomon Collins, Paul Bunch and the Goodmans, chiefs and the rest of them settled here about the year 1804, possibly about the year 1795, but al these men above named, who are called Melungeons, obtained land grants and muniments of title to the land they settled on and they were the friendly Indians who came with the whites as they moved west. They came from the Cumberland County and New River, Va., stopping at various points west of the Blue Ridge. Some of them stopped on Stony Creek, Scott County, and Virginia, where Stoney Creek runs into Clinch River.

The white emigrants with the friendly Indians erected a fort on the bank of the river and called it Fort Blackmore and here yet many of these friendly “Indians” live in the mountains of Stony creek, but they have married among the whites until the race has almost become extinct. A few of the half bloods may be found-none darker- but they still retain the name of Collins and Gibson, &c. From here they came to Newman’s Ridge and Blackwater and many of them are here yet; but the amalgamations of the whites and Indians has about washed the red tawny from their appearance, the white faces predominating, so now you scarcely find one of the original Indians; a few half-bloods and quarter-bloods-balance white or past the third generation.

The old pure blood were finer featured, straight and erect in form, more so than the whites and when mixed with whites made beautiful women and the men very fair looking men. These Indians came to Newman’s Ridge and Blackwater. Some of them went into the War of 1812-1914 whose names are here given; James Collins, John Bolin and Mike Bolin and some others not remembered; those were quite full blooded. These were like the white people; there were good and bad among them, but the great majority were upright, good citizens and accumulated good property and many of them are among our best property owners and as good as Hancock County, Tennessee affords. Their word is their bond and most of them that ever came to Hancock county, Tennessee, then Hawkins County and Claiborne, are well remembered by some of the present generation here and now and they have left records to show these facts.

Robert K. Thomas who surveyed the Native American families in Appalachia.  His report can be found here  although the links have been broken, it is a must read.  

Robert K. Thomas ~ 1980

Dear Mrs.  ----
I am writing to you to thank you and your husband for your kindness to me when I was in Coeburn last month.  I am now finished with my survey of Indian groups in the Southern Appalachians ...  and am back in Michigan.
Since you seemed interested in the history of the Collins family in your area I will pass along to you what I know of their history. 
As far as I can determine; all the Collins' of northeastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia, and eastern Kentucky are descendants of one household  of Collins who resided in Orange County, North Carolina in 1760; a family of Saponi Indians. I know that it must be mind boggling to imagine that the thousands of Collins' in your area are all descended from just one household, but such is the case.  Further this is not so amazing as it seems.  It is common among pre Revolutionary American families.  .......


Solomon Collins

"Her father was Solomon Collins, a descendant of a friendly Indian who migrated with the whites from Virginia in the early 
settlement of Hawkins, -now Hancock - County


From - Lest We Forget
Jim Callahan

 Satownan D. Collins, her father, 
was a Chief of the tribe


Saturday, March 5, 2022

Chief Tiney Cole






Live as Other Mountaineers 

                                   Are Honest and Law-Abiding Citizens.

SALYERSVILLE, Ky. Sept 29 1901

It is not generally known that there are Indians scattered all over the mountains of Kentucky, but in nearly every country of the eastern section may be found one or more families named Cole, a Catawba chief, who came here from North Carolina and settled in Floyd County nearly a century ago.

The greatest number of 'Old Billie's' descendants living in one place it the Cole family on Big Lick Branch in Magoffin county. The correspondent recently visited the "Cole Nation" as it is called up there and had a long interview with "Chief Tiney." The correspondent also got a snap shot of the chief and some of his children.

Their surroundings and belongings are very primitive and crude, but they seem as contented with their lot as many people more comfortably situated.  The best house in the settlement is the one shown in the picture, which is the home of "Chief Tiney" and his son's family.  It is a log house of two rooms with porch and floors of poplar planks. 

When see by the correspondent "Uncle Tiney" as everybody calls him was sitting on the porch giving orders to some boys who were repairing a rail fence near the house.  He was bareheaded and his primitive clothes and his long hair made him look like the typical pioneer and Indian. The old man cannot walk without help, but his hearing is good and his eyes are very bright. 

In response to questions Chief Tiney gave the following narrative: 

"I was bred and born in Kentucky, but I don't know just where. Before I came to the Big Lick I lived at different places in Breathitt, Floyd, Johnson and Lawrence counties. My father, 'Old Billie' Cole came from North Carolina. He was three-quarters Indian and was not allowed to vote until after the war but I have voted ever since I was 21 years old.  I have voted for eighteen candidates for president. My first vote was for John Quincy Adams and my last was for McKinley.  I always vote republican. I have lived in the Big Lick a long time and I have outlived nearly all my children.  Me and my old 'ooman' were might poor and could not provide for a large family, so we only raised 14 children to be grown, and now they are all dead but six.  I have 44 grandchildren, 53 great grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. 

"I did own a thousand acres of land on this branch but I give it all to my children and I have got nothing now. No I never killed a bear nor deer.  I thought too much of them all, wedge and ax to do much hunting, but I have caught lots of ground hogs and possums and a few coons.  I went hunting with a gun one time but 'daddy' left me to watch by myself and I promised if God would forgive me that time I'd  never to do so again. 

"I don't know much about my people 'Old Billie' my father, brought my mother from Virginia. He had two wives and nine children.  He was 106 years old when he died here on Big Lick.  I will be 96 if I lived til the 24th of next February." 

When asked to sit for a picture "Uncle Tiney" replied:

"Well I never had a picture taken and will if it don't cost too much." 

So the correspondent assisted him to a chair near the house.  He then called for his pipe and "the rifle," and putting his pipe in his mouth where he held it with his hand, as he had not teeth, and the gun across his lap, the old fellow leaned back in his chair with a smile of proud satisfaction and looked the very Chiefest of Chiefs.  He stood by the porch with two swarthy sons and a daughter for a picture of the group. the old chief seemed very proud of the opportunity to talk about his Indian relationship and to have his picture taken but he seemed prouder still of a big twist of ''home-made" which the correspondent gave him. 

Wallace Cole, a son of Chief Tiney is a democratic politician of some local influence.  His brother Shepherd Cole who lives at Hager in this county is a well known lawyer and politician and is a democratic candidate for county attorney.  these two, Wallace and Shepherd Cole, were a little bit more ambitious than their kinsmen. They attended school and for several years Wallace taught the public school in the "Cole district." Wallace being a teacher and Shepherd a lawyer they became the tribe's mentors, so to speak. 

Chief Tiney used to be a famous "witch factor." When the simple folk living near the Cole settlement could not get their bread to rise or their cows to five good milk they would blame the witches and send for 'Old Tiney" who would appear and prescribe remedies, with the result that the superstitious victims would for a time be convinced that the witch had been deprived of her power to inflict further injury.  

The Cole nation schoolhouse is near Uncle Tiney's home.  There are fifty three pupils in the district and thirty seven of them were in school at the time of our visit. The young lady teacher and others having dealings with the folk of that settlement have a great time with the names.  They generally use the same name at several christenings and affix some distinguishing word or phrase. Thus they have Old Valentine and Young Valentine, Big Adam and Little Adam, Preacher John, John Page and John Wesley, Old George, Long George and George Washington.  The settlement has sons named for Washington, Jefferson Buchanan, Lincoln, Tilden and Garfield. 

Links to Cole Family 

Bet Great Granddaughter of  Cherokee Chief Billy Cole

1900 Census
Magoffin County, Kentucky

This modified form of Schedule No 1 is to be used in making the enumeration of Indians, both those on the reservations and those living in family groups outside of reservations.

Detached Indians living either in white or negro families outside of reservations should be enumerated on the general population schedule (Form 7-224) as members of the families in which they are found:  but detached whites or negroes living in Indian families should be enumerated on this schedule as members of the Indian families in which they are found.  In other words, every family composed mainly of Indians should be reported entirely on this schedule and every family composed mainly of person not Indian should be reported entirely on the general population schedule. 

1900-1910 Census - Cole Indians

Although the Coles [and other families] are listed on the 1900 census as Cherokee Indians, living as Indians in Magoffin County, in the Special 1900 Census, a Government Document, their Cherokee Applications in 1907 were rejected.  Oddly in 1910 they are still recognized by the US Government as Indians.
Eastern Cherokee Applications

There is a small group west of that main stream that went north down the Big Sandy River in Magoffin County, near Salyersville, Kentucky.  These people appear to be primarily from this original Granville County group, but one begins to find other families in Magoffin County - Freeman, Perkins, Cole and Nichols, who did not originate in Granville County, North Carolina but are from southeastern Virginia, in Suffolk County; from a small former Indian community called Skeetertown.  
Cherokee Communities in the South - Robert K. Thomas

This article appeared in a number of newspapers and although it mentions a 'picture' of his family and home none of the papers I found carried the pictures.

Although it says 'Old Billie' descended from the Catawba, it could be an error on the part of the journalist or it could be that "Old Billie Cole" was a Catawba and married the woman of the Cherokee Tribe. 

Friday, February 18, 2022

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Hanging of George Gibson


The long delayed funeral


The Long delayed funeral

©2002 by Daily News of Kingsport

by Pete Dykes

They buried George Gibson in 1889, but his funeral was held in 1927. 

One of the strange tales out of the Southwest Virginia mountains concerns Gibson, hanged in Gate City following his conviction for a brutal 1888 murder.

His final request, promised solemnly to be fulfilled by authorities present at his execution, was that his funeral be held 38 years in the future.

And so it was.

Just why George Gibson made the unusual request was never explained, and remains a mystery to this day.

But the good people of Scott County, having given their word to the convicted murderer who was about to die, carried it out with a will.

The funeral was held in Bond Town, Wise County, as Gibson had requested, at the Free Will Baptist Church there, with three ministers, Rev. Monroe Hubbard, Rev. Paddie Robinette and Rev. F.J. Kinderly sharing the pulpit for the occasion, each in charge of a portion of the services.

Curious spectators attended from all over East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Eastern Kentucky, for they had never been to a funeral delayed nearly four decades before. Certainly not one that had been specifically requested by the deceased.

Was Gibson hoping that his own funeral would keep his name alive longer than the names of those who hung him?

Did he seek a balm to his tortured soul in the deadness of passing time?

Those questions have never been answered.

On a fine June day, perhaps one very similar to the date on which a rope was looped around Gibson's neck in Gate City to convey him from the land of the living to another state or condition, the tolling bell at the Bond Town Free Will Baptist Church rang out its solemn announcement, and the funeral was held.

Gibson's crime had been a brutal murder, made even more shocking by the discovery that the victim had been his unknown half-brother.

The three ministers out-did themselves.

It was reported that hardly a dry eye could be found in the vast crowd in attendance, by the time the service was concluded.

Perhaps George Gibson had known that 38 years would have to come and go before tears would be shed over his error, his crime, and his lost life.


George Gibson grew to manhood in Scott County, Virginia, and was well-known around Gate City.

In the winter of 1887-88, he, in the company of Wayne Powers, Jonas Powers and Joe Meade, traveled to the headwaters of the Big Sandy River to work at a logging job there.

While working in the lumber camp, the Scott Countians met and became fast friends with a young man named Will Gibson.

Similar or same names were not more uncommon in those days than they are now, and the two Gibsons never attempted to trace any relationship.

Later events established that the men were actually half-brothers, their father having been married a second time, but neither of them suspected such to be the case.

In the spring of 1888, the Powers boys decided to return to Scott County.

George Gibson immediately quit his job as well, saying that he would go back home when they did.

"Why don't you come along, too, Will?" they asked the other Gibson. 

'"You'll like Gate City, and it's some place you ain't never been to, ain't it?"

Will Gibson soon agreed and the men began their journey.

With money in their pockets from the logging work and whiskey easy to come by along the mountain trails, the trip soon turned into a carousing cruise or inebrius expedition, with a fifth, unseen companion, known as The Grim Reaper, tagging closely along.

There were a few scuffles and small fights along the trail, but the real trouble didn't start until the four men arrived at Buffalo Bridge, about one mile distant from Dungannon, Virginia. A large supply of whiskey had been obtained, and the men were drinking heavily. All four were far from sober.

Will Gibson made some jesting remark about "old cross-eyes", referring to Wayne Powers, who was badly affected with twisted optics.

Powers took offense, and a fight ensued, one that was to lead to tragedy and murder.


George Gibson quelled the fight, but then sided with Wayne Powers.

Perhaps he was a bit jealous of the other man who bore his family name, or maybe it was more natural that the Scott County natives would stick together against a near stranger.

Chances are, however, that the whiskey did most of George Gibson's thinking...and talking ...for him.

"What we ought to do is kill him," George told the Powers boys.

"We ought to just kill him and take his money and clothes, and his share of the liquor. That way, we,d not have no more trouble with him."

Wayne Powers, still smarting from the insulting remark about his crossed eyes, fell into the ready agreements.

"Let's do it," he said.

"Let's kill him!"

Jonas Powers objected.

"Aw," he said "We don't want to do nothing like that. That wouldn't be right at all."

But George Gibson and Wayne Powers were too far gone in intoxication and anger to listen to reason.

Each of them grabbed a club and began to beat Will Gibson about the head with savage, powerful blows.

The victim soon fell dead, his skull crushed and beaten to a bloody pulp before the drunken men fully realized the extent of their violent castigation.

The sobering realization that Will Gibson was dead brought the killers to their senses, but panic and terror at their horrifying deed soon clouded their thinking again.

Will Gibson's body was quickly buried in a shallow, hand-dug trench and covered with fence rails gathered from nearby.

They then set fire to the rails, in hopes that the body would be completely burned up, and hurriedly continued their journey to Gate City.


Two days later, a farmer was working in a nearby field.

Seeing the pile of partially burned fence rails, he decided to investigate, and therefore discovered the grisly sight of the partially burned body.

The arrest of George Gibson and the Powers brothers followed almost automatically, for they were the only travelers who had passed through the Dungannon section within the past few days.

When word of the horrifying crime spread around Scott County, a lynching party was soon formed, and gathered outside the jail, demanding the immediate hanging of the murderers.

Frightened by the angry mob, George Gibson and Wayne Powers confessed to the sheriff that they had killed Will Gibson. They explained that Jonas Powers had not participated in the killing, but the sheriff felt obliged to hold him for trial as well.

The trial was held in Gate City, before Judge H.S.K. Morrison, then considered one of the most able jurists in the state of Virginia. A jury returned the verdict of guilty for George Gibson and Wayne Powers, exonerating Jonas Powers of any part in the crime and setting him free.

Judge Morrison sentenced the two convicted men to death by hanging, declaring that they deserved no mercy, not even the mercy of death. Scant days later, on a warm June day, George Gibson and Wayne Powers paid for their crimes at the end of ropes in Gate City, to a carnival-like atmosphere of spectators and curious onlookers.

Just before the noose was fastened over Gibson's neck, he asked that no funeral be held for him until 38 years had passed.

A strange request, but one that was granted and fulfilled.


Melungeon Indians_Part II Collins

  The Information on Benjamin Collins Family is from Will Allen Dromgoole  who boarded at the home of his descendants in 1890.  "The Ma...