Robert and Betsy Chumley

Robert and Betsy Chumley came to Powell Valley, Claiborne County, Tennessee from Giles County, Virginia sometime after 1812.

Robert Chumley was born in 1786 in Virginia. He married in 1800. Land survey dated 11 Apr 1826 in Claiborne County, Tennessee shows they purchased 100 acres of land at the foot of the Cumberland Mountains at Walker’s Line and Gap Creek, in Claiborne County, Tennessee.

Robert land in 1826

[to be continued]

Lewis Chumley

Family of Lewis Chumley

Lewis Chumley was born in 1806 in Virginia.  He died in 1880 in Arthur, Claiborne County, Tennessee.  He was buried in Cumberland Gap, Claiborne County, Tennessee (Ely Cemetery on King Bend Road next to grandchild Fannie Chumley, child of James Franklin Chumley and Sarah B Chumley.).  He married Mary Elizabeth “Mae” Freeman 1830 in Arthur, Claiborne County, Tennessee. 

Lewis Chumley and Mary Elizabeth “Mae” Freeman had the following children:

  1. ELIZABETH JANE “LIZ”CHUMLEY was born on 15 Jun 1831 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. She died on 18 Jul 1888 in Condray, Dent, Missouri (buried in Blackwell Cemetery). She married:
    1. CRAIG JEFFERSON SALYERS on 05 Apr 1854 in Claiborne County, Tennessee (married by John Freeman Minister of the Gospel, Baptist Church). He was born about 1832 in Harlan County, Kentucky He died on 12 Oct 1864 in Henry County, Kentucky (killed in the civil war).
    1. JOHN ELLIS WRIGHT (son of George Wright and Sarah Humphrey) about 1861 in Claiborne County, Tennessee (John Wright had 3 children by a previous marriage: Sarah J., William and Mahala. See his 1860 Census.). He was born in Mar 1835 in Virginia. He died after 1900 in Dent County, Missouri.
  2. MILDRED AGIE “MILLIE” CHUMLEY was born on 15 Dec 1832 in Tazewell, Claiborne County, Tennessee. She died on 15 Oct 1905 in Cook Station, Crawford County, Missouri (near Salem). She married Waitsel Nuley Lay (son of James Newton Lay and Mary Bryant) on 09 Apr 1850 in Tazewell, Claiborne County, Tennessee. He was born on 01 Mar 1829 in Burke County, North Carolina (Says b. VA 1850 cns, 1860 N.C. and 1870 TN. 1863 Draft Reg says b. N.C.). He died on 11 May 1874 in Dent County, Missouri (Burial: Lay Cemetery, Salem, Dent County, Missouri).
  3. SARAH ANN “SALLY” CHUMLEY was born on 15 Feb 1834 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. She died on 24 Apr 1893 in Condray, Dent, Missouri (Killed in a tornado that destroyed the town of Condray, Missouri. The town was never rebuilt.). She married Thomas Harold Condray (son of William Harold Condray III and Sarah Elizabeth Welch) on 05 Nov 1855 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. He was born on 24 Mar 1833 in Cumberland Gap, Claiborne County, Tennessee. He died on 23 Sep 1896 in Condray, Dent, Missouri. 
  4. DANIEL HUFF “DAN” CHUMLEY was born on 12 May 1835 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. He died on 22 May 1924 in Arthur, Claiborne County, Tennessee. He married:
    1. MATILDA HALE “TILDY” BRYANT (daughter of Garrett Neal Bryant and Mary Frances Sally “Fanny” Stanton) on 04 Mar 1855 in Arthur, Claiborne County, Tennessee (by John Freeman, Minister of the Gospel.). She was born on 28 Feb 1837 in Arthur, Claiborne County, Tennessee. She died on 01 Mar 1891 in Arthur, Claiborne County, Tennessee.
    1. CATHERINE “CASSIE” PARRISH (daughter of Ephraim Parrish and Mary Lassiter) on 16 Feb 1897 in Middlesboro, Bell County, Kentucky She was born in Nov 1849 in Alabama. She died in 1910 in Marietta, Georgia.
  5. MARY CHUMLEY was born in 1837 in Tennessee. She died in Claiborne County, Tennessee (died young).
  6. JOHN MARSHALL CHUMLEY was born on 23 Aug 1840 in Cumberland Gap, Claiborne County, Tennessee. He died on 16 Sep 1927 in Cook Station, Crawford, Missouri. He married Elizabeth Nancy “Eliza” Grantham (daughter of Willis Grantham and Keziah Stubblefield) on 14 Feb 1869 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. She was born on 03 Aug 1842 in Grainger County, Tennessee. She died on 14 May 1926 in Cook Station, Crawford, Missouri.
  7. ROBERT “BOB” CHUMLEY was born on 22 Sep 1846 in Powell Valley, Claiborne County, Tennessee. He died on 20 Aug 1924 in Salem, Dent County, Missouri (Death Certificate Missouri 22925 cause of death: Cancer of the stomach). He married Frances E. “Fanny” Jones on 17 Jan 1866 in Mount Vernon, Rockcastle, Kentucky.  She was born on 25 Dec 1851 in Kentucky (Arva notes and date on headstone).  She died on 20 Aug 1925 in Salem, Dent County, Missouri.

Andrew Chumbley

Family of Andrew Chumbley

ANDREW CHUMBLEY was born on 18 Feb 1803 in Giles County, Virginia. He died on 19 Oct 1892 in Jabez, Russell, Kentucky He married:

  • ELIZABETH “BETSY” CADLE (daughter of Mark Jackson Cadle and Mary Polly Covey) in Aug 1826 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. She was born in 1804 in Wilkes County, North Carolina. She died about 1865 in Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky.
  • MARY ELIZABETH JANE GOODIN (daughter of John Goodin and Sarah Gums Montgomery) on 01 Apr 1866 in Pulaski County, Kentucky (Second marriage for both. She was previously married to William McClendon). She was born in Oct 1828 in Hawkins County, Tennessee. She died after 1900 in Wolf Creek, Russell, Kentucky

Andrew Chumbley and Elizabeth “Betsy” Cadle had the following children:

  1. “MARY” MAHALA ANNCHUMBLEY was born in Apr 1824 in Claiborne County, Tennessee (Note:  Headstone says b. 1820 but all census records state abt 1824 and 1900 census states Apr 1824). She died on 05 Dec 1917 in Woodstock, Pulaski County, Kentucky. She married Joseph McWilliams (son of Nelson McWilliams and Sarah Hutchinson) on 29 May 1844 in Tazewell, Claiborne County, Tennessee (By Samuel Gibson, J.P.). He was born on 20 Sep 1818 in Hawkins County, Tennessee. He died on 25 Apr 1890 in Woodstock, Pulaski County, Kentucky (Age: 71).
  2. WILLIAM JAMES CHUMBLEY was born in 1826 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. He died before 1870 in Jabez, Russell, Kentucky (Possibly killed in Civil War Burial: Pottershop Cemetery, Jabez, Russell County, Kentucky.  (Find A Grave Memorial# 13717814 Inscription: Cpl. County 5 3rd Kentucky Inf.). He married Sarah Dodson on 05 Oct 1846 in Claiborne County, Tennessee (Samuel Gipson, JP). She was born about 1831 in Tennessee.  She died before 19 Sep 1872 in Russell County, Kentucky.
  3. ROBERT GREEN CHUMBLEY was born on 07 Jul 1828 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. He died on 09 Mar 1917 in Jamesport, Daviess, Missouri (Cause of death: Appendicitis). He married:
  4.  LOUISA JANE TARTER (daughter of Jacob Tarter and Elizabeth Trimble) on 28 Feb1849 in Pulaski County, Kentucky (Security: Jos. Mc Williams Brides Mother: Elizabeth Jasper Stepfather: Andrew Jasper Grooms parents: Andrew and Elizabeth Chumbley Taken from Book I 1799-1850 Puliski County Historical Society – Public Library North Main Street Somerset, KY 42501). She was born on 15 Jan 1833 in Pulaski County, Kentucky She died on 31 Mar 1875 in Jamesport, Daviess, Missouri (Dennis said that he received information from Bob Thompson, and he thought that she died in childbirth.).
  5. ELIZABETH VARNEY on 14 Oct 1880 in Grundy County, Missouri (Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson on marriage record. Second marriage for both.). She was born on 01 Feb 1840 in Livingston County, Missouri. She died on 28 Mar 1927 in Washington, Carroll, Missouri.
  6. MARTHA ANN CHUMBLEY (daughter of Andrew Chumbley and Elizabeth “Betsy” Cadle) was born in Dec 1831 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. She died in 1920 in Pulaski Co, KY (Alice note: birth records state they were living in Coldweather Creek, KY). She married John Chaney on 01 Jul 1851 in Pulaski County, Kentucky.  He was born in 1831 in Kentucky He died before 1900 in Illinois.
  7. JAMES FRANKLIN CHUMBLEY was born in Sep 1834 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. He died after 1920 in Russell County Kentucky. He married Lucy Ellen Fry (daughter of Charles W. Frye and Lucinda McClendon) on 27 Mar 1859 in Pulaski County, Kentucky (Source: Pulaski County, Kentucky. Marriage Books, Book II page 19, 1851-1863. married by Willisam S. Weddle, wit: Wm. Fry, and John Pitman). She was born on 23 Apr 1835 in Morgan County, Indiana. She died on 26 Jun 1926 in Pulaski County, Kentucky
  8. ELIAS BRITAIN “BRITT” CHUMBLEY was born in Mar 1837 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. He died on 31 Oct 1900 in Teddy or Evona, Casey County, Kentucky (Civil War Pension Application of Elias B. Chumbley’s daughter Queen Victoria). He married:
    1. ELIZABETH ELLEN “NELLY” DUNSMORE (daughter of Richard Joseph Dunsmore and Eleanor ”Ellen” Unknown) on 11 Nov 1858 in Pulaski County, Kentucky (Marriage Book II, p. 18, Book 1, pg. 391. Residence of Joseph Dunsmore; minister is Wm. S. Weddle; Witnesses: John Campton, Perry Dunsmore, John Chaney (Cheyne?)). She was born in 1836 in Pulaski, Kentucky She died on 20 Dec 1886 in Casey County, Kentucky.  
    1. ANNA J. LYONS on 06 Apr 1887 in Pulaski, Kentucky She was born on 14 May 1867 in Pulaski County, Kentucky.
  9. MARTIN CHUMBLEY was born in Aug 1841 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. He died after Jul 1920 in Indiana. He married:
    1. NANCY TURPEN on 30 Mar 1862 in Pulaski County, Kentucky She was born in 1842 in Kentucky She died before 1900 in Indiana.
    1. MARY ANN BLACK on 27 Dec 1868 in Pike County, Indiana (Record Book: 5 OS Page: 194). She was born about 1845 in Indiana.
    1. MALINDA J. LAWRENCE in 1900 in Dubois, Indiana (2nd marriage for both). She was born in Mar 1851 in Indiana. She died before 1910 in Indiana, USA.
  • MARGARET CAIN (daughter of Ephriam Cain and Rebecca McDonald) on 15 Aug 1861 in Russell County, Kentucky She was born in 1843 in Russell County, Kentucky She died on 09 Jan 1876 in Pulaski County, Kentucky (cause of death: female disease).
  • LUCINDA “RINDA” J. MCCLENDON (daughter of William McClendon and Sarah Jane “Sally” Gooden) on 16 Aug 1876 in Pulaski County, Kentucky She was born on 23 Apr 1850 in Kentucky She died on 08 Jan 1894 in Pike County, Indiana.
  • MARTHA MCCORMICK on 21 Mar 1895 in Pike County, Indiana (Source: MARRIAGE RECORD 1859 1905 Record Location: Pike County – Indiana Grooms by Ruth M. Slevin Opal Phillips [Record Book 4 through Book 11, page 232].). She was born in Nov 1841 in Kentucky She died in Nov 1903 in Pike County, Indiana.
  • SARAH F. DAWSON on 09 Feb 1905 in Pike County, Indiana ((Source: MARRIAGE RECORD 1859 1905 Record Location: Pike County – Indiana Grooms by Ruth M. Slevin Opal Phillips [Record Book 4 through Book 11, page 232]). She was born about 1846 in Indiana. She died on 22 Feb 1915 in Winslow, Pike County, Indiana.
  • ALICE NAOMI RUSS on 08 May 1915 in Princeton, Gibson County, Indiana (by A.D. Green). She was born on 08 Apr 1856 in Kentucky She died in Oakland City, Indiana.

8.  SAMUEL ALEXANDER CHUMBLEY was born on 22 Jul 1845 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. He died on 21 Sep 1925 in Dorena, Russell, Kentucky (died of nephritis). He married:

  • COATNEY “CLARANN” CAIN (daughter of Ephriam Cain and Rebecca McDonald) on 06 Mar 1866 in Waterloo, Russell County, Kentucky (Marriage records states they married at the home of Richard Rayburn.) She was born on 08 Jun 1846 in Russell County, Kentucky She died on 24 Oct 1920 in Wolf Creek, Russell County, Kentucky (cause of death Tuberculosis of lungs for two years).
  • RUTH A. LANDS POPPLEWELL on 16 Mar 1921 in Russell County, Kentucky She was born on 26 Jun 1851 in Kentucky. (

Andrew Chumbley and Mary Elizabeth Jane Goodin had the following children:

  1. LEE ANDREW “LEANDER” CHUMBLEY was born on 01 Jul 1861 in Gaines, Pulaski, Kentucky He died on 28 Aug 1924 in Wolf Creek, Russell, Kentucky He married Victoria Wilson (daughter of William Fuller Wilson and Rhoda Jane Hopper) in 1883 in Kentucky She was born on 21 Jul 1858 in Russell, Kentucky She died on 19 Aug 1932 in Wolf Creek, Russell, Kentucky.
  2. LEWIS WADE CHUMBLEY was born on 08 Aug 1865 in Gaines, Pulaski, Kentucky He died on 17 Jul 1960 in Pulaski, Kentucky. He married Armina E. “Anna” Cain (daughter of Ephraim Asberry Cain and Mary E Addie) on 06 May 1888 in Russell County, Kentucky (Home of Josiah Wilson). She was born on 01 Apr 1863 in Pulaski County, Kentucky.  She died on 04 Apr 1942 in Russell County, Kentucky.
  3. WILEY W. CHUMBLEY was born about 1867 in Kentucky

Lewis Franklin Chumley’s great-grandson, Van Weems Chumley

Some inserts from my Chumley Family Book, this one about my great-grandfather, Van Weems Chumley.

Van Weems and Dellar Chumley
55th Wedding Anniversary, June 21, 1964

Van Weems Chumley was born the oldest child of Lewis Garrett and Annie Katherine Hammock Chumley on 28 Aug 1887 in Arthur, Claiborne County, Tennessee. Van Weems would learn how to farm the land from his father Lewis, who learned from his father and his father before him. The land was rich and fertile on Powell River and 3 generations would live there on both sides of Powell River during Van Weems’ lifetime. He had 5 brothers, Jack, Jim, Wheeler, Landon, and Neal; and 1 sister Emma, but they called her Emmer. All the children would marry, raise their families, and farm the land in Claiborne County, except one. Landon would die young. In fact, Landon was only 23 when he died of pneumonia and he is buried in the Old Chumley Cemetery, on the East side of Powell River. We believe he was well educated and Uncle Harley mentioned to me that Landon traveled and stayed in Nashville quite often, as well.

By 1910, Van Weems, Dellar, and their first son Lewis were living in their home on Powell River beside Van Weems father and mother, Lewis and Annie, his brother Wheeler and his family, and his brother Jack and his family. Other families mentioned on the census include Dellar’s parents Tom and Rebecca Bussell and the families of Tuttle, Cupp, Ely, Brooks, and Cheek, just to mention a few. Homes of this time commonly were 2 room log homes with fireplaces and iron cook stoves for heating and cooking.

Cabin on Powell River around 1915
Left to right: Otis, Dellar and Van Weems
Front left to right: Agnes, Minnie, Lewis

Wood was plentiful and provided needed materials to build not only homes, but also other essential buildings, such as barns, corn cribs, chicken coops, etc. Wood cutting could be a year-round job, depending how much you had stored up before winter. Wooden sleds and mules were used for gathering and hauling crops out of the fields, because the fields were often on very steep hillsides where it was difficult for wagons and horses. Sleds were built from sawed lumber, and young ash trees were ideal for making the runners for the sled, as you could find them with just the right crook in them that would allow the sled to glide across the field and not burrow into the ground.

Warner Bussell, Van Weems Chumley, Grandpaw Bussell, Henley Bussell, Ed Bussell Powell river farm

Van Weems was a farmer all his life and our family prospered because they worked together and were self-sufficient. They grew their food, made most of their clothing, bartered goods for staples they needed, traded work with others in the community, and kept livestock for food, labor, and/or profit. As soon as the boys were old enough, they would work in the fields. Uncle Harley told me that he was about 14 when he started working in the fields and while he was still in school. They used a bull tongue plow pulled by mules to break up the hard earth on the steep hillsides. Uncle Harley told me Clyde and his daddy would take the mules, Jerry and Joe, and plow up the land and then he, Fred, and John would go behind them, hoe out the rows, and cut the weeds out. He also remembers using a double shovel that had hand handles on it like a plow with 2 and sometimes 3 feet on it that was used for planting corn.

In the fall, there was wheat to harvest. The mules, Jerry and Joe, pulled the thrashing machine and then the wheat was cradled and loaded onto wagons. Once on the wagons, the wheat was taken down to the mill on the creek near Old Underwood, where it would be ground into wheat for the family.

Hay Season Left to right: Tilmon Tuttle, JR Depew, George Chumley, Sarah Chumley, Woodrow Chumley, Van Weems Chumley, Tom Bussell

In addition to farming, grandpaw raised hogs and chickens. I remember once going out to grandmaw and grandpaws to kill chickens and this was quite an education. Over near the barn, grandpaw and the boys were set up for the first stage of the process, chopping off the heads of the chickens. Out back, between the house and the chicken coop, grandmaw had a large black cauldron filled with water that was heated over a wood fire. Once the heads were cut, the chickens were put in the boiling water of the cauldron, which allowed for easy plucking of the feathers. Grandpaw and the other women would pluck the feathers and prepare the chickens for the packaging process. Also, the feathers were washed, dried, and saved to make feather pillows and such. Nothing wasted in this family and their combined efforts provided meat for the winter and soft pillows for comfort. Tennessee is known for producing large quantities of corn and hogs for the country, as far back as pre Civil War, and the Chumleys have done their share. Grandpaw raised hogs and Uncle Harley remembers the hog killings. He said some of the hogs would weigh out at about 200 or 300 pounds. That is a lot of pork!

Grandma took her chickens and eggs to the store to trade for groceries. She would have a table full of food, and when there was not enough room for every-one at the table, the men ate first. When the boys would come home at night, from church or wherever, they were usually hungry; Grandma always left out a bucket of buttermilk and some cornbread for them. Aunt Bessie remembers gathering mussel shells from the riverbank for Grandma to grind up and feed the chickens. On the southeast side of the river (McDowell farm side), there is a natural spring, where the family kept their milk and food cold. They had to row across the river to reach the spring. You can still see where it bubbles up to this day. Grandma kept geese, the feathers of which she plucked for pillows and mattresses. Upon the marriage of any of the children, the new couple would receive one of Grandma’s feather mattresses.

Family photo at their 55th Wedding Anniversary 1964

The moral of this story is it doesn’t matter how many things you have in your life, what matters is what you do with what you have. My great-grandparents did a lot with the little material things they had. They never went hungry and they were self-sufficient on their small farm in Claiborne County, Tennessee. If were to ever have a recession, would we do as well?

Road Trip June 2020 – Lonesome Valley Road in Claiborne County, Tennessee

What a great time in Lonesome Valley! I can’t tell you how much fun we had. First off the characters in this story are Freddie, my cousin who lives in Claiborne County, my sister Rhonda who was visiting from Colorado, and myself. Whenever my sister says lets go on a road trip, I am in! Our similar goals on our trip are 2 fold, experience God’s beautiful outdoors finding old things. The differences between us is that Rhonda is looking for herbs and I hunt dead people! LOL Hang in there, I promise it gets better!

I have had an infatuation with this area for a couple of years. It started as I was researching for information for the book I co-authored with Betty Russell, The 125-History of Underwood Grove Baptist Church. Two of the 4 elders who organized the church were my ancestors. Rev. Henry Burrow Poore was my 3rd great-grandfather and Rev. John Thomas Freeman, Jr was my 4th great-grandfather. This my mother’s heritage and not my Chumley history, but it is so worth sharing.

Both of these men lived and raised their families in…wait for it…you guessed it, Lonesome Valley. In fact there are Freeman and Poore cemeteries in several areas of Lonesome Valley and in the surrounding communities of Combs, Bacchus, Goins, and Blair’s Creek areas. I find the history so interesting and with the help of many of my Chumley family in the area and from our Chumley Research Group members, I found so much information that I just had to visit the area. So, when my sister, Rhonda was onboard with a road trip, I knew the place to go and then I knew the person who could get us there, our cousin Freddie.

Freddie shares my love for our family history and the history of Claiborne County, Tennessee. He is an amazing historian in his own right and we can really come up with interesting theories about both subjects; family and area history. Freddie had taken the Chumley research members on a couple of other road trips in the past and we are never disappointed what we find on these trips.

Kathy’s Lonesome Valley Map

I had already done some preparation for the trip before I left Virginia. I had created a map of the area with a legend of cemeteries, mills, schools, homesteads based on my research of these families that I did for the Underwood Church book. I had taped the map on a piece of cardboard and mapped out our itinerary, best as I could from the research I had found. I had no idea how accurate it would be, but I figured that Freddie’s knowledge of the area would make up for what errors I may have made on my map.

Freddie checking out Kathy’s map before the trip

We turned off the highway between Cumberland Gap and Tazewell and headed West to get to Lonesome Valley Road. Just before our road, we passed the location where Cline’s Shop was located. Of course the building has been long gone, the sign serves to remind us where it once had been.

Cline’s Shop 1917-1945

The deeper we get off the highway, the more narrow the road gets and eventually we are on a one lane, dirt road and I started to feel like the adventure had begun. I had taken the trouble to mark the roads on my map that we would pass along Lonesome Valley Road, giving us a point of reference to places we were looking for. Not far into the ride, we came to Holt Cave Spring and the remains of an old grist mill.

The spring was evident, but it was hard to see the remains of the mill, due to the high overgrowth over the years.

According to my research, this is the area where Mayes Elementary School had been and it was just before where the town of Duo had been. Edgar A Holt wrote Tennessee county history series : Claiborne County in 1981. There were a series of these Tennessee County History books published by Memphis State University Press, but by different authors.

Edgar Holt dedicated his book to the people of Lonesome Valley:

“This book is dedicated to those whom I hold especially dear: To
the hard working farmers; operators of grist, flour and carding
mills; doctors, Civil War veterans, teachers, ministers, and merchants
who created a vigorous community in historic Lonesome
Valley, centering at Duo, the post office, and at the general store.
This community was exemplified in the hearts and minds of
its people who combined industry and religious faith with an
insight into themselves and the future furnished by dedicated
teachers in a one-room country school. Nothing seemed
beyond us.”

Full text of “Tennessee county history series : Claiborne County / by Edgar A. Holt ; Joy Bailey Dunn, editor, Charles W. Crawford, associate editor”

So this tiny town of Duo, long forgotten, even by the locals who live there, was at one time a thriving community. The general store was the hub of the community. This is where you could get your mail, trade what you had for dry goods and clothing, and where town meetings were held. Mr. Holt writes that many incoming settlers had knowledge of grist mills that could be powered with water. Early settlers built their home along the creeks and rivers, which also offered means to transport products to market at little cost. He writes that the talents and hard work of these people helped them to develop an industry, a way of life, to provide for their families and improve their community with religion, schools, and social life. I was so excited to see a group photo in his book, “Good Friends and Leading Citizens.” This photo included a distant cousin of mine, Pleasant H. Poore, Duo Postmater. There were other thriving communities around Lonesome Valley. Combs, Goin, Bacchus, and others, but none of the communities were ever incorporated and eventually outlived their usefulness.

Our next stop was at the lonesome valley train trestle. The impressive structure was first built in 1889 and provided a route connecting Knoxville, Tennessee to Middlesboro, Kentucky. According to an article in The Claiborne Progress, Wednesday, January 21, 1987, the trestle was was constructed of Georgia Pine and had 3 tiers of wooden construction, costing $30,000. This article was written about the trestle collapsing in 1892.

The wreck made news in Indiana, when the Madison Daily Democrat printed an article of the incident on June 16, 1892, the day of the accident.

Lonesome Valley, TN Trestle Collapse, June 1892
Submitted by Stu Beitler
Tennessee | Train Wrecks and Accidents | 1892


Knoxville, Tenn., June 16. — A horrible railroad accident without a parallel in this section, occurred on the Knoxville, Cumberland Gap and Louisville road, forty-five miles north of this place, Tuesday morning at 9 o’clock. At Lonesome Valley, Weird Mountain gorge was spanned by a trestle 300 yards long and 139 feet high. The structure was made of wood and approached each side by heavy grades and sharp curves. Trainmen have been suspicious of the trestle for some time, but it was recently inspected and reported in good condition.
A long and heavy loaded coal train pulled by two engines struck the trestle while running about twenty miles an hour. The timbers gave way and the engines and the cars fell to the narrow rough bottom below. The engines and cars were crushed into a shapeless mass. Engineer, ANDREW ALLISON and Fireman JAMES SHELTON, were instantly killed. Conductor DUCKWORTH, was fatally injured and two brakemen received serious injuries.

Madison Daily Democrat Indiana 1892-06-16

The Tennessee State Library and Archives had photos of the train trestle, including one of the rebuilding of the trestle in 1893.1

This massive structure is so impressive, despite the history of its collapse and it is haunted. Yep, ghostly noises in the night, train whistles and such. We didn’t stay around to prove that theory, but it adds a bit of interest to the story. It was a beautiful day for taking photos of the bridge and we lingered here for a bit, admiring the engineering

Tennessee State Library and Archives, Keyword search: Lonesome valley in Claiborne, County, page 10

Freddie drove us all the way to the end of Lonesome Valley Road. There were some beautiful scenic views and my sister and Freddie would periodically point toward the side of the road or woods and yell out, “There’s some ginseng.” or “Go back, I some some blood root.” I admire their knowledge of the Tennessee plant life and the healing properties of the various herbs and roots. A long forgotten knowledge of our ancestors, but they care enough to hold on to that knowledge and share for future generations and I think that is admirable. Meantime, I will keep looking for dead people, that’s my thing, and we are all good with that on this trip.

One of the things I most wanted to find was where the Poore homestead was located and find the graves of some of my oldest Poore ancestors. The Powell River was flowing over it’s banks and I kept thinking we were at the end of our journey several times, but Freddie pushed on toward the homestead. My sister took some amazing photos along the way.

We made it to the homestead, where Rev. Henry Burrow Poore and his wife, Lavin Caylor, made their home and raised their 7 children. A beautiful farm it must have been, located on the Powell River.

The 3 of us searched all over the place, trying to figure out where they were buried, but no luck. We were disappointed and feared the worst, that someone might have tossed the headstones in the woods to make room for farming land. However, a couple of days later, I discovered that we had not gone far enough and the cemetery was there, probably just 1 more field away from where we were! (I feel another road trip coming on, who’s with me?)

On the way out of Lonesome Valley we had time for one more stop. We took a turn back where the town of Duo would have been and headed North a couple of miles to visit the Poore Cemetery located at Logan and Shipley Roads. This is where one of Henry’s brothers, Richard Turner Poore’s family are buried. There were a lot of stones that had worn away with the weather and no longer had writing on them, but there were a few that you could read, and I made sure to give them a memorial on

What a great day. Despite the very hot and extremely humid weather, we had a great time and experienced some history together. My sister and I did a little more exploring before we headed back to Knoxville to our mother’s house. Freddie was the perfect guide and I couldn’t have been happier with his hospitality.

At the end of the day, I just had to ask my sister, Rhonda, “What was the highlight of the day?” Her answer was finding the herbs. She ask me in turn what the highlight was for me, which I replied, “My map worked!”

Til next time…happy hunting!

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