We had just as good as no law at all in Buchanan County

Posted by | June 24, 2016

“I stayed [at the Little Fox Creek place] eleven years, in the midst of the Thomas and Gibson tyranny, ere we decided we could not bear with their ways of doing any more, so we kind of organized a squad—called the “White Caps” Squad—on up until the night of October 3, 1901, when me and my brother went over on Abner’s Branch to John Wisor’s Store, and we fell in with the so-called “White Caps,” assembling to make a raid on Old Jim Thomas up on Hurricane, so we decided to go along with them, and did.

“This proved to be worth more to me in real good knowledge than any trip I ever made. I learned that night that I was no “White Cap,” no “Klu Klux,” or no “Night Raider.” The big part of that crowd was from Dickenson County. Of course, there was a squad of Buchanan County boys and men, but the majority of them was from Dickenson.

Grundy VA, turn of 20th century

Street scene in Grundy, VA, county seat of Buchanan County, turn of 20th century.

“When they got up there, it seemed that they must have had plenty of liquor, and lots of them must have been pretty high. They got two good men killed that night, several more sprinkled with shot. The cowards scattered and left Dave Robinson dead and Bod Arrington dying from the shots from Old Jim Thomas’ shotgun.

“Thus, we had just as good as no law at all in Buchanan County at that time. The Commonwealths had run away for dealing in Bogus Land Business, and Jim Thomas was never indicted for killing the two men, and the country was in worse shape than it was before.

“Before long, Mont Browning became Commonwealth Attorney and Judge Henson of Tazewell became judge temporarily, and in 1905 or 1906, Judge Henson appointed me Justice of the Peace, and Creed B. Duty as Constable in the Garden District.

“We seized the law in our hands as green as two pumpkins, and set out to try to straighten things out a little, and we did, notwithstanding threats from every corner that we were going to be killed if we did not quit sticking the law to the violators.

“We just went straight ahead regardless of threats or whatever.

“1907 was election year and I was elected again, but Creed Duty let Bev Chambers beat him for constable. I didn’t expect to get much service out of Bev Chambers, and sure enough I didn’t.

“In 1908 or 1909, I sold out on Little Fox Creek and bought a little old place off James Tiller near the mouth of Hurricane. I moved over there after the Honaker Lumber Company had come over the hill and times had got lots better both in law and in every other way.

“I stayed at Hurricane for six years, and by that time, Preacher W. A. Hash had come to Council and was making preparations about building a high school up there, so I sold out at Hurricane to B. W. Ball and went up to Council and bought a little farm of I. J. Johnson Hale. I gave him eight hundred dollars cash and moved up there.

Grundy, VA in 1918

Grundy, VA in 1918.

“I stayed there for four years to a day and sold out to J. N. Hall, for one thousand dollars, and came over here right to where I am now doing this writing and bought the old W. A. McFarlane Farm off his oldest son, George M. McFarlane, Sr. I gave him twelve hundred dollars cash and moved over here in March of 1918 and stayed here thirteen years, and in February, 1930, I went down on Bull Creek and bought the old John W. Clevinger home place, where he raised his family. I bought it from his son, Levi Clevinger. I gave him one thousand dollars and moved down there, and stayed there sixteen years.

“Then, my wife became ill, and I saw she was getting worse and never better, and I prevailed on her to let us divide our land up among all our children and make them deeds while we were both alive and able to make deeds, so we did just that.

“We had one hundred and four acres here at Council and one hundred and forty-nine and one half acres at Harman on Bull Creek. We had one son, Richard D. Murphy, Jr., in the army and we deeded him the home place at Harman; and we deeded our home place here at Council to our youngest daughter, Mary L. Presley, and I am now at her home at Council, where I have ever been since my wife died on June 24, 1947 except that I went down into the State of Indiana where my daughter, Bettie Colyer, has a farm, and stayed about ten months last year.

“So this brings me down to the present day of November the third, 1952, and I will wind up by saying that I have always been an independent man. I have only one religion and that is to observe the golden rule of: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’

“I have never belonged to any secret order or lodge; I have never belonged to any labor organization or to any union of any kind. I have always been too independent to be affiliated with anything that would bind me to do anything that I did not want to do, and I am still just that independent. I am 85 years old and have never yet got old enough to try and draw any Social Security from the Social Welfare Fund. I despise Socialism so bad that I despise anything that has Social attached to it.

“There are several things in my life that I regret that I ever did: I regret that I was Justice of the Peace; I regret that I ever did join the Regular Baptist Church; I regret that I ever did night-watch at the Council High School; I regret that I voted for Al Smith in 1927. For all the regrets, the reasons are best known to myself alone. None of them is serious, but I know that if I had never done any of them, I would have had none of them to think about now.

Cover of the October 1920 issue of Popular Science magazine, painted by American illustrator Norman Rockwell. It depicts an inventor working on a perpetual motion machine.

Cover of the October 1920 issue of Popular Science magazine, painted by American illustrator Norman Rockwell. It depicts an inventor working on a perpetual motion machine.

“I have never regretted that I worked on the Perpetual Motion. I have always said that it could be made and would be made some time. I have it so near completed at present that I know it can be finished and will be finished in the near future. If I don’t get it done myself, I hope that some of my posterity will finish it. I know science says that it can’t be done, but I say that it can be done, and will be done.”

R.D. Murphy, Sr.

Buchanan County, VA


online at: http://files.usgwarchives.net/va/buchanan/bios/murphyrichard.txt

3 Responses

  • Jody Rose says:

    I grew up in Buchanan County and now looking back through the distance, I am looking for a connection to places I remember as a child. Here are a few that I can recall and have found nothing substantial regarding them, neither archival nor photos. If anyone else out there share similar memories, I would appreciate any information, as my family moved out of the coal fields to work in steel mills in Baltimore, many moons ago.
    I remember living up on dry fork holler and attending my first school there at the foot of the holler. It was a one room school house and I haven’t found anything about it, at all ! After Vansant we lived for a while further down beside a ballpark, where carnivals came around. There were three small white house right on the banks of the Levisa river to the rear and the Trail Of The Lonesome Pine in front. Lot’s of good times there as a kid ! When I was older they let me walk down to an old airplane, gutted out and turned into a little store. RSVP, my autobiography is waiting to be written. Thanks, in advance for any information you provide, Jody

  • Hi, :)
    thank you very much for putting this together.
    R. D. Murphy Sr. is my great great grandfather. His daughter, Hetty Caroline Murphy Blankenship and John Logan Blankenship are my great grandparents. Belva Marie and David C. Blankenship are my grandparents, Everett Lee and Elsie Blankenship are my parents.
    My grandfather, David C. Blankenship(R. D. Murphy Sr.’s 1st grandson)and my then 16 year old uncle, Thurman Blankenship, passed away together on a most sultry summer morning some many years ago. They managed to free the young girl, my uncles friend, and both lost their lives together in the process. The wail of tears on this most dreaded and beautiful morn, echo to this very day. Thank you again for his honor.
    A bit more I’ve found on the lives of my Great, Truly Great, Grandfather, R. D. Murphy Sr. family, i.e., his grandson :
    Rita Dunn – Dec 15, 2004Owens, Deel, Raines, Arrington family siterdunn@localnet.com
    John Logan and Hetty Caroline Murphy Blankenship are the parents. Dad(Noah)is 4th in line. David (the youngest) drowned with his son Thurman in the late 50’s. Rita Blankenship.

    Scott Owens – Dec 16, 2004scott.owens@comcast.net
    Rita I remember when David and Thurman drowned. It was so sad if i remember they were trying to rescue a young girl and were tangled in fishing lines. I remember them having the fishing hooks in them.

    iii. RICHARD DOLPHUS BLANKENSHIP, m. IDA OWENS; d. 07 Aug 1991, Buchanan County, Virginia.
    v. BYRD BLANKENSHIP, d. 29 Nov 1995; m. MARY OWENS; b. 02 Dec 1918, Dickenson County, Virginia; d. 17 Feb 2002, Belchers Fork, Buchanan County, Virginia.

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