Many of the veterans of the War of Independence came home from their long travail and in the years ahead became disillusioned with the promises of the central government in regard to land and pensions. Soon, restless and seeking an outlet for boundless energy, they flung themselves westward and peopled new states on the other side of the Alleghenies.

John Scalf, crippled with Tory bullets, was not one of these. He was infected with the western fever, we feel sure, for little else could explain the frustrations and interminable moving about characteristic of his life while rearing a family but settlement in the west required men of stamina and physical excellence. John Scalf had dissipated his strength in long marches, fierce battles and was now, on the threshold of his marital life, unequal to satisfying the turbulent urges that possessed him.

He was approximately 27 years old when he married and since he had been at the home of his father for seven years we are inclined to believe he wps nursing the crippled leg. Gradually the bones reknit, the wound healed. He and Edy went to housekeeping in North Carolina, perhaps in the vicinity of the Carlisles and near to his father, Lewis.

We are indebted to a deposition of his son, John Scalf, Jr., for a few facts on Lewis Scalf. (1) Lewis had been dead for several years in 1845 and since he had died a centenarian in Georgia "several years ago" it is reasonable to assume that he had died in the 1830's, He was born, we deduce in 1745. There are no property records for him and he seemed to move about to some extent. He is listed. in the 1810 Wilkes County, N.C. Census but the probability exists that he had lived in Johnston County, N.C., and afterward in Edgecombe County. His removal to Georgia in his old age was probably to reside with one of his sons who could, conceivably, have been Joseph.

There is strong evidence that Lewis Scalf also served in the Revolutionary War with his son John. The latter, in a deposition made August 23, 1839, in Hawkins County, Tennessee, he stated in answer to a question if he had ever received bounty land:

"If ever such a warrant was issued it must have been used by the affiant's father who served in the war of the Revolution with the affiant and the affiant being at that time very young and inexperienced did not inquire of it or attend to getting it."

It will be noted that John Scalf, in his initial application for a pension related the circumstances of his wound and was found unfit for service. There is an inference in his statement that Lewis was then in the Revolutionary Army for John deposed: "I sent to my father and scuffled on as well as I could until I met my father and got home in the fall of 1780..." The question arises here: Was Lewis Scalf stationed or encamped within a reasonable distance of his wounded son and did he get permission from his superiors to accompany him home? The inference is strong that he did.

Another, bit of evidence that comes down to us from a century and a quarter ago is the allegation that John Scalf impersonated his father in order to procure a pension. He could not have impersonated his father unless the elder Scalf had served and John's enemies must have known of Lewis Scalf's service. If Lewis Scalf served in the war there is no record of his service in the National Archives at Washington. Genealogical specialists have always noted that those records are incomplete. Research in the North Carolina or Georgia state records might resolve the perplexing question.

Early in his married life John Scalf became frustrated and vexed with his physical infirmity and his inability to wring a competence for his large and growing family from, the hardscrabble farms on which he lived. He became pugnacious and intransigent at public meetings especially where his old enemies, the Tories, were present or on the speaker's platform. He could not abide their acceptance into the mainstream of American life. The memories of battle, the suffering at Valley Forge and the Tory bullets that had wounded him perhaps for life were ever green. (2)

He found relief from vexation and frustration, in the potent spirits of the backwoods.  In later life, when it was necessary to, have certifications as to character, his honesty and integrity were never impugned but occasionally it would be recalled that he had often been intoxicated. He was vocal at times, articulate as to, service in the Revolution, proud of his regiment. (3)

While, living in North Carolina, the first two of his daughters were born. These were Nancy and Polly, both born before John Scalf, Jr., who was born in, 1791. We know little more of these two, daughters. Polly was born March 22, 1788 and Nancy April 29, 1790. There were five other daughters and, besides John, eight other sons, in all 16 children. Some of these children could have been born in Russell County Virginia, or in Floyd County, Kentucky, he having resided in both places in later life. When he took up residence in later life near his son, John, Jr., in Hawkins County, Tennessee, Edy's child bearing days were probably over.

Sometime prior to 1810, John moved from Wilkes County, N.C. to Russell County, Virginia, probably to the Clinch River. Soon afterward be moved over the Cumberlands to the new county of Floyd in Kentucky. The 1810 Floyd County Census, enumerated by Jonathan Mayo, and returned Dec, 24, 1810, shows 10 persons in the family. Three males were under 10 years, one, John himself, was under 45 years of age, There were six females listed - three under 10 years, two under 26 and one (Edy) under 45 years.

Here we are inclined to doubt the correctness of the ages of John and Edeah Carlisle Scalf as recorded by Mayo for if the old soldier was under 45 years of age in 1810 he would have had to be born about 1766, He enlisted in the North Carolina Line regiment in 1777 and if the Floyd County 1810 Census is correct he would have been but 11 years of age. John stated in his pension application declaration that he was very young when he entered service but he most assuredly was over 11 years old. A similar seeming discrepancy exists as to his wife's age for she is also listed as under 45 years of age. We know this is the family of John Scalf, Sr., from a deposition of a neighbor Polly Trent, Hawkins County, Tennessee.

It was while residing in Floyd County, Kentucky, that his propensity for trouble landed him in irons in the Prestonsburg jail. We have no record of the charge other than an oral tradition related by Hezekiah Scalf, a grandson, that he had a fight with one of the McGuires and cut him seriously with a knife. Whether it was the condition of the jail, which was admittedly bad, or the seriousness of the offense that required irons, we do not know. We are indebted to a few laconic court orders for all we know.

The jail was bring repaired by Thomas Evans and his work was either so unsatisfactory or he was negligent about its completion and the Justices at the May 1812 court ordered proceedings against Evans' bondsman. The contract to repair the structure was to be cried off and it was stipulated. that it be completed by June court term. Many persons had carried off irons from the jail and the May court 1812, ordered "a Subpoena issue against all the former and latter Sheriff, Jailer & persons who have at anytime undertaken and worked on the Jail of this county to appear here on the first day of our next June Term of this court to say what if any they have of the old Irons or pieces of Irons they have that belonged to the jail of this county ...." Martin Simms, late jailer, still had the keys and the sheriff was directed to procure them and deliver them to William Keeton, the present jailer. In the meantime, probably before the May court term, John Scalf, it is inferred from the record, escaped jail and. took the fetters with him.

The June court term opened and one of the first orders of business was to adjudge that certain persons pay for jail irons. "Ordered that Asa Leech deliver to the Sheriff a certain piece of the old Jail Irons or pay 50 cents. Also that John Turman pay 50 cents for iron used. Also that Martin Simms Jailer $3,for the fetters he has lost by means of Scalf a prisoner." William Jas, Mayo was to receive the money. (4)

The jail was repaired by Robert Haws and the Justices received it over the protests of William McGuire, sheriff, who objected to the sufficiency of it. We hear no more of jail irons until the November 1812 term of court when William James Mayo made return of the levy and monies received. It was noted that several persons paid for jail irons that had taken and Martin Simms paid the $3 charged against him. Benjamin Morris was allowed $1.50 "for two days guarding jail where Scalf was committed."

John Scalf, following his escape from the jail, shed his fetters somewhere for they were recovered, just where the old Floyd County order book doesn't note. The court, at the same time it accepted Simm's $3 for lost fetters, allowed John Stratton, deputy sheriff, 40 cents for "putting Irons on sd. Scalf." In the same order Robert Haws was allowed $1.50 "for breaking handcuffs and mending fetters."

John Scalf, embittered by his Floyd County experience, fled to Clay County, which had been severed in 1806 from the vast mountain empire of: early Floyd. He procured employment at the Goose Creek salt works, then owned by John Hubbard. This was probably in 1812, He stayed two years at the famous salt works but finding his old wound would not permit him to do heavy work he removed his family, which had joined him, back to Russell County, Virginia. In the declining years of his life when he was fighting for a pension for his army service he referred many times to John Hubbard as a character witness.

We know from the records that John Scalf owned land but for some reason he resided for six years on the lands, of Stephen Gose in Russell. County. Soon after his removal to the Gose farm he became involved in a family feud with the Gose and Bush families,, The effects of it would follow him for a quarter of a century.


1. In addition to John Scalf, Jr., Polly Trent, a daughter of John Scalf, Sr., in Hawkins County, Tennessee, mentions Lewis Scalf as the father of the Revolutionary War soldier. Her deposition, and several others relative to tha soldier's pension application, are on file in the National Archives, Washington, D.C.

We excerpt the Trent deposition:

"That she was well acquainted from her earliest recollection, with Lewis Scalf the reputed father of the aforesaid John Scalf, Sen., and that she knew them both in the County of Wilkes in the State of North Carolina from which county said Lewis Scalf removed to the State of Georgia, many years ago, and died at a very advanced age, he being upwards of One hundred years old. - that said John Scalf, Sen., removed from said County of Wilkes into Russell County in the state of Virginia where he lived several years, thence into the state of Kentucky, thence into Hawkins County, Tennessee, where he still resides within five or six miles of her residence and is certain of the removals of said John Scalf, Sen., as stated."

Polly Trent's deposition was made before Robert Rogers, Justice of the Peace,  Hawkins County, Tennessee, July 17, 1845, presumably at Rogersville.

2. Based on tradition recalled by Mrs. Grace McFeeters, Freedom, Okla., a descendant. Referred to in Chapter I.

3. Noted by Mrs. Archer: "The defeat of Sir Peter Parker and Lord Cornwallis at Charleston in June 1776 left the way open for North Carolina to send Washington six battalions. The First and Second Battalions were of great courage and much experience so they were among the six sent. They won honors at the battles of Brandywine and Princeton and even greater honors at Germantown. At home again in 1778, the Tories could not oppose them. John Scalf was in the First Battalion."

4. Floyd County Order Book, titled, "RECORD OF FLOYD COUNTY COURT ORDERS. Began 24th day of October 1808 and ending at December Court 1813." The old volume is in the handwriting of William James Mayo, clerk. The orders referred to here are found on pages 145, 199, 200.

Copyright (C) 1970 by Henry P. Scalf, All Rights Reserved.