The Scalf-Gose-Bush troubles began while John Scalf was residing on the lands of Stephen Gose. He probably moved away from the Gose farm before or after the start of the family feud for we cannot conceive of him, embittered. and intransigent as he was, continuing to live as a Gose tenant. He may have moved to his own land on the Clinch River.

Still suffering from his wounds, unable to perform hard manual labor and burdened with a numerous progeny, he found himself unable to support his family. John Smyth, overseer of the poor in Russell County, probably prompted by Stephen Gose, went into court and had seven of the Scalf sons "bound out." This was August 3. 1820. Names of the children were William, Berry, Ira, Lea, Peter, Jesse, and Robert. William was apprenticed to Stephen Gose to learn the "art and science of a farmer." (1)

Within a few weeks Stephen put William to work on the roads of the county, probably as a substitute for himself as landowners in those days were required to work on the roads at intervals. John discovered his son on the road and since William was frail he took the boy home. Smyth went to court and at a trial, Oct, 3. 1820, the old soldier was charged with a "felony by taking from the possession of Stephen Gose, his son William Scalf... " (2)

John was acquitted on the grounds it was not a felony as charged but as an aftermath of trial that day John threatened bodily harm to Smyth. The overseer of the poor went back into court and John was required to execute a peace bond. It was signed by David McClenahan and John Counts.

For 14 years John Scalf, Sr. stayed out of trouble but in 1834, John, Jr. was charged. in the court at Lebanon with passing a counterfeit fifty cent piece to Richard B. Long. In some way the Goses and Valentine Bush, brother-in-law of Stephen, were involved with the charges. John, Sr. rallied. to the support of his son and employed Congressman G.W. Hopkins to defend him. Trial was set for July 15, 1834.

It was to Russell countians an important trial and all. five "Gentlemen Justices" were present to hear it. Since counterfeiting was an offense against the United States, John, Jr., was charged in the Virginia court for "feloniously passing" the coin...."with the intention in so doing to defraud the said Richard B. Long." The alleged spurious coin was "a counterfeit piece of silver coin current within this Commonwealth of the denomination of 50 cents, United States coin dated 1829...." The offense occurred, the warrant read, July 8. (3)

Present were many members of the Scalf families and a delegation of Goses and Bushes, among them Valentine Bush and Elizabeth Gose. The families, who had allowed their differences to smolder for years, were arrayed again. Patsy Scalf, wife of John, Jr., was present and ready to testify for her husband.

Congressman Hopkins was an able lawyer and won an acquittal for his client but only after the witnesses opened old wounds by their evidence. Elizabeth Gose was particularly incensed at Patsy Scalf and brought a charge, its nature now unknown to us, against her. This trial was scheduled August 8, 1835, but in the meantime Elizabeth had a change of mind, came into court on that day and asked it be dismissed. She agreed to pay the court cost. The Scalfs could not readily pay Hopkins' fee and he sued, got judgment and sold the old soldier's land as part payment. John had protested the fee on the ground it was "enormous." (4)

After these legal tiffs John Scalf, Jr. moved to Hawkins County, Tennessee. In the meantime his father had been awarded a pension and was residing near his son. He was not to enjoy it very long.

In 1838, shortly after the pension was allowed her father-in-law, Patsy Scalf went on a visit to Russell County.  One day, while riding into Lebanon, she fell in with John Gose, also on his way to the county seat. He was a brother-in-law to Valentine Bush and was still angry from the results of a suit several years earlier between Patsy and Valentine. The latter had stated Patsy Scalf had "sworn a lie and he could prove it." Patsy had sued, Valentine failed to substantiate his charge, and judgment was awarded against him. Most of the property of the defendant had been lost through this litigation and John Gose, coming up, with Patsy on the Lebanon road,, began to upbraid her. Their talk degenerated into a violent quarrel and John, according to the old records, "became very angry and highly excited at the time against her and against her husband, John Scalf, Jr."

Gose made remarks that John Scalf, Sr. was not entitled to a Revolutionary War pension as he had been too young to serve in the army. He finally thundered a threat: "I'll be Godamity damned if I don't stop old man Scalf's pension through spite." (5)

In town, John Gose sought out Stephen Gose and Valentine Bush. After a talk, overheard by a Col. Sharp, an attorney of Jonesville, Va., they went to see Congressman Hopkins. The Congressman was still angry because John, Scalf, Sr. had not paid the balance of his fee in defending John, Jr. on the charge of passing a counterfeit coin and readily agreed to write J. L. Edwards, Commissioner of Pensions. While they were in Hopkins' office, Col. Sharp met Patsy Scalf on the street and told her he had overheard the Goses and Bush planning to attack John Scalf's pension award.

Hopkins' letter, still preserved in the National archives, is dated September 16, 1832. He wrote:

"A man of the name of John Scalf removed a few years ago from this county to East Tennessee who is, I understand, receiving a pension from the United States. That his claim is a fradulent and spurious one no man doubts who knew him, He was not old enough to have served in the Revolutionary War. The public patience has been violated in this case and I deem it my duty to call your attention to the matter. He was never reported while here to have been a soldier of the Revolution and never set up any such pretense. He resides somewhere, I am informed, in East Tennessee, perhaps in Hawkins, Claiborne, or Granger counties. His claim ought to be investigated and stricken from the rolls."

The impact of the letter of the vindictive Congressman Hopkins had the desired effect on the commissioner and the old veteran's pension of $80 per annum was suspended. The Goses and Bushes had wreaked their hate on John Scalf, Jr. by striking at his father.

For eight years John Scalf fought back, He suspected the Congressman and his old Russell County enemies but he had no proof other than the statement of Col. Sharp, of Jonesville, who had overhead the conspiracy. The Commissioner of Pensions steadfastly refused to divulge the name of the man who charged he had not served.

John Scalf, Jr., in order to assist his father, deposed in Hawkins County, Tennessee, July 17, 1845, that he was convinced the charges that his father did not serve in the Revolution were false. He threw light on the background of the Russell County Gose-Bush-Scalf feud.

"Deponent ... states that he now makes this affidavit at the request of his father in consequence of a charge said. to exist against him that he was not old enough to have performed any military service in the War of the Revolution and that he personated his father and thereby fraudulently obtained. a pension. Deponent is certain that the last charge is false from the fact that he was well-acquainted with his (Dep.) Grandfather Lewis Scalf and father of the aforesaid John Scalf, Sen., by which name his father has always been known.

"As to the first charge, Dep. knows nothing of his father's age, further than what he has stated but has always understood from his earliest recollection his father was a soldier in the War of the Revolution and that he had received several wounds in said war.

"From information he believes said charges were made by his (Dep.) old enemies, the Gosts or Goses, and Bushes, of Russell County, Va. where deponent once lived and that they have persecuted his father in order to wreak vengenance on him (Dep.) and his wife, Patsy Scalf. Deponent is led to this conclusion from the fact that there was considerable law difficulties between himself and wife on one side and Valentine Bush, the brother-in-law of John Gose or Gost and relation of Stephen and Stuffley Gose all of the same county on the other side - that said Bush had slandered his, Deponent's wife, by saying she had sworn a lie and that he could prove it, for which Deponent prosecuted said Bush for slander, who was found guilty and taxed with the cost - That before the commencement of said suit and during the prosecution thereof and after its termination the Gose and Bush families on the one side & the Scalfs on the other were arrayed in bitter hostility against each other and that they are unfriendly yet, all of which happened in Russell County, Va. Deponent states that he knows of no record of his father's age nor does he believe any ever existed unless it was made by Deponent's Grandfather Lewis Scalf, which he thinks would now be impossible to find as his Grandfather died many years ago in the State of Georgia."

Robert Rogers, Justice of the Peace, before whom John Scalf, Jr. was sworn, wrote at the bottom of the statement: "I further certify that I am personally acquainted with the aforesaid John Scalf, Junior; that he is a respectable witness and an honest man; whose testimony I would have no hesitation in believing and that faith and credit should be given his testimony in any court or office in the United States."

Deposition after deposition of members of the Scalf families and from many prominent persons were submitted as evidence, all to no avail. Evidently, however, the commissioner had begun to entertain doubts as to the truthfulness of Hopkins' charges. He wrote the Abingdon attorney in 1845. Hopkins replied curtly, September 13, restating his doubt.

"It is believed," Hopkins wrote, "that he was not old enough to have served in the War of the Revolution and the fact that he had never within their knowledge had reputed to have done so was stated by several citizens who best knew Mr. Scalp [sic] and in whose statements I placed entire confidence."

It is difficult to understand, if we attribute integrity to Congressman Hopkins, why he had never heard of Scalf's claim to service or had never seen him exhibit his wounds for the old pensioner had been vocal of his battles and experiences for all the years he had resided in Russell County. There is an inference from Hopkins' last letter that he was attempting to lay the groundwork for laying the blame on others by affirming to the commissioner that the statements were from persons in whom he had complete confidence. At this date we shall probably never know but there are strong inferences that Hopkins was, like John's old enemies, seeking vengeance, one on a man who had not paid an attorney fee in full and the others on him as a means of striking at the old veteran's son and wife.

It was while working at the Goose Creek salt works in Kentucky in 1815 that John Scalf met another old veteran, Anthony Hall, who now resided in Perry County, Kentucky. Hall had enlisted in the Seventh Virginia Regiment in Halifax County. He was in battle with John Scalf and had examined his wounds immediately afterward, all of which he deposed in a statement made at two separate dates.

Hall took exception to the statement that John Scalf was too young to have served in the Revolution.

"This affiant states that it was not unusual for boys not more than fourteen years and earlier than that to be seen in the army. Even General Jackson, himself, when he served in South Carolina, was not more than 14 years of age and said Scalf is older than General Jackson by about one year and is older than this affiant." (6)

The old soldier began to build up massive evidence to counteract the statement that caused his pension suspension. He submitted statements from two physicians at Rogersville, Tennessee - Drs. Hu. Walker and A. Carmichael, who examined three wounds, two in the leg and one in the chest. They explained that "the shot (in the chest) having carried a portion of his shirt before it, on the withdrawal of which the shot dropped out."

The effort to restore his pension required much of the fast failing strength of the old soldier. He was now in his eighties and he was going deaf to the extent that it was extremely difficult to converse with him. He continued to procure depositions to bolster his claim to reinstatement. One was from Polly Trent, his daughter, of Hawkins County, who lived "within five or six miles of him." She knew Lewis Scalf and John Scalf both in Wilkes County, N.C. She had known John Scalf since her earliest recollection and estimated, in her deposition, that John must be about 85 years old. (7)

John went finally to Major David S. Rogers, who had served in the United States Army under Gen. Winfield Scott and besought a statement. They had known each other for ten years in Hawkins County. Major Rogers, not having actual knowledge of John's service, asked him to stay all night, which he did. That night Rogers put John through an interrogation on army discipline, regulations and the battles of the Revolution in which he said he had participated.

Being convinced that John Scalf had actually served in the Revolution, Major Rogers went before Robert Rogers, a Justice of the Peace, and signed a statement. He attested to the good character of John Scalf, and said: "He further states that the said Scalf has always bore the character of an honest man and ever since he knew him and that his general character is good except that he has at times become intoxicated." (8)

The next day after Major Rogers made his statement, he and B. McDaniel went with John Scalf to the office of Robert Rogers in Rogersville and a final appeal was written for the restoration of the pension. It is a highly literate document and could have been prepared by either of the trio. Since the old veteran could not write it was signed by a mark.

In this final statement he alluded to the family troubles a decade earlier with the Goses and Bush back in Russell County and expressed the conclusion that his troubles were due to the machinations of these enemies.

"...He is unjustly, wickedly and maliciously persecuted and knows of no other cause of such persecution unless it be as stated," the statement read. "That he has for several years been trying to have his pension restored through different persons but from some cause unknown to him they have been unsuccessful. and now this is his last effort; that he is now very old, his hair being silvered over with the frosts of eighty odd winters and with his feeble health and infirmities together with his extreme poverty he is unable to prosecute the matter any further; that he makes this last appeal to his country by way of vindicating his character and to the end that his country for which he has so severely suffered may do him the justice to restore him to the rights for which he is justly entitled..."

McDaniel and Major Rogers signed their names as witnesses and Justice Rogers, after attesting property to the document, added on his own:

"I further certify that I am personally acquainted with the aforesaid John Scalf, Sen., who is a resident of the aforesaid County of Hawkins; that he is an honest man of good character and respectability whose testimony is entitled to full faith and credit. I further certify from my knowledge of said Scalf and his general character I do not believe he would. perjure himself on any account, that he is the identical person to whom a certificate of pension was issued as stated in the foregoing affidavit... and from his personal appearance which indicates old age, the number of his children, the great number of his grandchildren and great-grand- children, some of whom I am personally acquainted with, I am irrestibily brought to the conclusion that said Scalf was not only a soldier of the Revolution but that he is now upwards of eighty years of age and I conscientiously believe from all the circumstances that he has been unjustly and maliciously persecuted." (9)

Months went by and no action was taken at Washington. Autumn came and winter approached and still nothing was heard. Early in the winter someone, probably one of the trio who had met in the office at Rogersville, suggested an appeal to Congressman, later President, Andrew Johnson, of Greeneville. Johnson was a man of growing influence at the capital city and the trio at Rogersville were influential constituents.

Johnson began his efforts by submitting a copy of a statement made eight years earlier by William Hill, Secretary of State of North Carolina. Hill had certified that he had examined the muster rolls of the Tenth North Carolina Regiment,, John Scalf, a Corporal, had "enlisted May 30, 1777 for three years, that he was a private in June 1778, that on the 21st day of April 1784 a warrant for bounty land for three years and three months service was issued..."

The Greeneville Congressman returned the copy to Commissioner Edwards with other papers germane to Scalf's case but wrote tersely on the margin of the envelope containing the certificate copy: "Col. Edwards Will please read the enclosed certificate and report the result of same." (10)

Whether it was Congressman Johnson's efforts that administered the coup de grace to Edwards' reluctance to restore John Scalf to the pension rolls is not known but we do know that he relented at once. He was restored to the rolls Jan. 1, 1846. He had been suspended September 28, 1838 and arrears to that date were paid. The arrears amounted to $560 and added to this was his semi-annual payment of $40, a total of $600.

John and Edeah Scalf moved several times in their old age, always trying to reside near one of their 16 children. The arrears money and the continued annuity enabled them to supply simple needs. Edeah Scalf made a statement in Claiborne County, Tennessee, June 7, 1851, that her husband died March 10, 1848. He was about 88 years of age. (11)


1. Order Book 6, page 258, Russell County Clerk's office, Lebanon, Virginia. Justice John Harmon presided at the hearing.

2. Order Book 6. page 274, Russell Count.- Court Clerk's Office. Present were Gentlemen Justices John Lake, Samuel Aston, Nathan Hamilton, James Browning and James Dickenson.

3. Order Book 10, page 155, Russell County Court Clerk's office. Present were Gentlemen Justices James Browning, John Jessee, Harvey Gray, John Sewall and Cummings Gilmer.

4. Deposition of John Scalf, Sr. made August 23, 1839, before Robert Rogers, Hawkins County, Tennessee. The full quotation is: "'Affiant believes this Mr. Hopkins is the person who has preferred the charge against him and that it was done for revenge because this affiant would not pay the remainder of an enormous fee, which the affiant could not have done for want of the money."

5. Deposition of Patsy Scalf, wife of John Scalf, Jr., July 17, 1845, before Robert Rogers, Hawkins County.

6. Deposition of Anthony Hall, Perry County, Kentucky, dated July 5, 1839, made before Robert Rogers, Hawkins County, Tennessee. Hall had gone from Kentucky to Tennessee to make the statement.

7. Deposition of Polly Scalf Trent, daughter of John Scalf, Sr. and wife of Alexander Trent, made before Robert Rogers, Hawkins County, Tennessee, July 17, 1845.

8. Deposition. of Major David S. Rogers, Hawkins County, dated ,July 17, 1845, made before Robert Rogers, Justice of the Peace.

9. Deposition before Robert Rogers, Justice of the Peace, Hawkins County, Tenn., dated July 18 1845.

10. Memorabilia preserved in a packet of papers in the John Scalf, Sr. file in National Archives. Johnson's short note to Edwards was undated. We are able to infer from the memorabilia that Johnson conferred with Edwards on the Scalf case.

11. Edy Scalf, widow, made the statement in a deposition sworn to June 7, 1851 before Jesse G. Palmer, Justice of the Peace, Claiborne County, Tennessee, She was, according to her statement, 80 years old. This would make her birth date either 1770 or 1771.


I.     Polly Scalf, born March 22, 1788
II.    Nancy Scalf, born April 29, 1790
III.   John Scalf, Jr., born (ca 1794)
IV.   Brittan Scalf, born (ca 1795), killed 1845**
V.    William Scalf, died before 1845
VI.   William Scalf, died before 1845
VII.  Berry Scalf, born (ca.1811)
VIII. Ira Scalf, born 1812
IX.   Lee Scalf,
X.    Peter Scalf, born 1808, died 1897
XI.   Jesse Scalf
XII.  Robert Scalf
XIII  Dicy Scalf
XIV  Betsy Scalf
XV   Lydia Scalf
XVI  Cecelia Scalf

* We are indebted to depositions of John Scalf, Jr., Patsy Scalf, and Polly Trent, Hawkins County, Tennessee, for statements that John Scalf, Sr. and Edeah (Edy) Carlisle Scalf were the parents of 16 children - ten sons, and six daughters. The depositions were made in 1845 in order to assist John Scalf, Sr, to procure a restoration of his Revolutionary War pension which had been suspended in 1838, Patsy Scalf, wife of John Scalf, Jr. names each of them but unfortunately fails to state whom they married. According to her statement there were two named William and both were dead in 1845, They probably never married.

** There is no uniformity in the spelling of Brittan Scalf's name. The spelling used here is the most common.

*** The spelling of Lee Scalf's name, like that of Brittan's. is not uniform on the old records. One record spells it, "Lea." He had a nephew named Levy or Levi so it could possibly have been that.

                             JOHN SCALF, SR - CENSUS RECORDS

                               1810 FLOYD COUNTY, KENTUCKY

John Scalf

      Males under 10 years........3
      Males under 45 years........1
      Females under 10 years....3
      Females under 26 years... 2
      Females under 45 years....1

                                 1820 RUSSELL COUNTY, VIRGINIA

John Scalf

      Males under 10 years.........5
      Males 10-16 years.............2
      Males 16-18 years.............1
      Males 18-26 years.............2
      Males 45 years, older.........1
      Females 16-26 years..........2
      Females 45 years, older......1

                            1830 RUSSELL COUNTY, VIRGINIA

John Scalf

      Males 15-20 years.............2
      Males 20-30 years.............3
      Males 60-70 years.............1
      Females 10-15 years.........1
      Females 20-30 years.........1
      Females 60-70 year...........1



Following the death of the Revolutionary War soldier, John Scalf, Sr., who died in 1848, his widow, Edeah Carlisle Scalf, applied for a military bounty land warrant, under the Act of 1855.

Records in the National Archives at Washington show:

Military Bounty Land Warrant 67702, 160 acres, act of 1855, was issued to Edy Scalf, widow of John Scalf, Private, Revolutionary War. On Jan. 5. 1858, Edy Scalf, for value received, sold and assigned this warrant to Richardson Adams who in turn on October 7, 1867, for value, received, sold it to Oren B, Sturtevant. The latter used the warrant to locate the E 1/2 of NW 1/4 and N 1/2 of SW 1/4 of Section 15, Township 41 North, Range 26 West in Minnesota.

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