THE TREK WEST
The westward movement of the American people that had been halted by the Revolution renewed itself vigorously following the end of that struggle. They pushed west, northwest and southwest, establishing cabin homes, building forts, clearing the forest, erecting water mills, digging out roads and opening trails.
All over the frontier from the backwoods of Pennsylvania, down through Western Virginia, Western North Carolina and Western Tennessee there was restlessness and a yen to move. By the end of the century following the Revolution the flood tide of people going west had reached mammoth proportions. Down the Ohio, they came in every conceivable kind of craft; through. Cumberland Gap and other passes of the Alleghenies they surged either in covered wagons or on horseback.
In every thrust of a mighty current there are little eddies left or clinging on the side of the main stream but soon these too join the central body and become a part of the major movement. It was thus with many families on the frontier. They moved slowly at first, a few score miles perhaps and later, usually the next generation, they uprooted themselves and moved again, always west.
For a long time the Scalfs were eddies in this western movement and it would be three or four generations before they took long plunges into the west or northwest. Many of them, like James Scalf, of North Carolina, were possessed of property in land and slaves and felt least the general compulsion to leave the more established communities.
Restlessness, however, was manifest in the Scalf family to a degree as it was throughout the border counties. Lewis Scalf, born in 1745 in eastern North Carolina, moved to Wilkes County and. was there when the 1810 census was made.. He left within a few years, went to Georgia. (1) His son John, Revolutionary soldier, suffering from wounds incurred under Gen. Greene, had little of the physical stamina necessary to pioneer the west but was possessed of the urge to do so. Following his discharge from Revolutionary -service he went to Edgecombe County, North Carolina, married Edeah Carlisle. In another decade he was in Russell County, Virginia; by the time another decade had elapsed he was in Floyd County, Kentucky. Following a brief stay, not exceeding a few years, he went back to Russell County and then to Hawkins County, Tennessee. (2) By this time he was too old to wrestle with the hardships of migration but his children and grandchildren would. They thrust themselves into Southeastern Kentucky from where their descendants would move into Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and eventually farther west.
Brittain Scalf, son of John, the soldier, entrenched himself with land and livestock in Russell County, Virginia. and but for the panic of 1837 would have accumulated a worldly competence. He invested heavily in horses and mules for the southern trade but Jackson's panic struck and he lost everything he had but a few parcels of land. He was killed by a falling tree in the mid-1840's while serving as a road overseer. Immediately following Brittain's death, his widow, Talitha Couch Scalf, put her children and household furnishings in a covered wagon and moved to Johns Creek, in the present Pike County, Kentucky. (3)
Peter, Robert, and Jesse, brothers of Brittain, moved out of East Tennessee to Southeastern Kentucky. That part of Kentucky, in the first half of the last century was scarcely touched by civilization. It was almost roadless, courthouses were far apart and primitive wilderness encompassed much of the area. Wild animals infested the forests and fish abounded in the streams. It was mountainous and isolated but the Scalfs found free land and established homes. Courage and stamina were necessary attributes for settlers in the area.
By the middle of the last century little pockets of Scalfs began to show up in the western states, many of them like the Isaac Scalf family of McKinney, Collin County, Texas in 1860. His father was a native of North Carolina but he had been born in Tennessee. His wife and four of the oldest children were born in Ohio. He had evidently not been in Texas but a few months when picked up in the 1860 Census enumeration for his three youngest children, one of them a mere babe of less than 12 months, had been born in Tennessee, We are led to believe from the census that he had gone to Ohio and married, lived awhile there, moved back to his ancestral Tennessee and in either 1859 or 1860 moved to Texas. Where he fits into the family tree we are uncertain but he was probably a descendant of John, the Revolutionary soldier. (4)
In 1866 the Scalfs and allied Sellards of Floyd County, Kentucky, pioneered Minnesota, soon afterward North Dakota, South Dakota and Saskatchewan, Canada. They were one of the most restless of all the Scalf families and did not stop their migrations until they were in California, Washington, Sasketchewan, Yukon Territory and the upper limits of settled civilization in Northern Manitoba. The third and fourth generation of this family, descendants of John Scalf, son of Brittain and grandson of John, of the Revolution, continue today to manifest the restlessness of their sires.
The story of the Scalf-Sellards Colony in Minnesota begins on Buffalo Creek, during the Civil War. John Scalf, son of Brittain, had married Clarinda Sellards, granddaughter of the pioneer John who founded the Sellards Settlement there in 1794. They had four children by 1864 and fought valiantly to stay alive in a region, infested by guerrillas.
In 1864 the dreaded outlaws came, seized all of John's livestock, poultry and house furnishings. What they could not carry away they destroyed and the family was left destitute. John, undaunted by this catastrophe, went to work on the farm in a desperate effort to stave off starvation. Overwork and worry wore him down and he became an easy mark for pneumonia. He died in the spring of 1864. (5)
Clarinda Sellards Scalf, mother of four children and looking forward to nothing but privation and toil in a land wasted and ruined by civil war, agreed readily to a suggestion. from her father Thomas A. Sellards that they pioneer in Minnesota. One day after May 6, 1866, Clarinda and her four children, the oldest only 9 years of age, with her father and mother, Mary Clark Sellards, and three, possibly four of Clarinda's little brothers, set out on the long journey to Minnesota.
Four years before the two families left Kentucky for Minnesota the Santee Sioux raided far and wide over the face of the land in which they expected to settle but Little Crow was dead three years-hence and only a few gaunt chimneys marked where his warriors had descended upon unwary settlers. Clarinda Scalf and Thomas A Sellards built cabin homes beside a mile-wide lake near Dassel, Meeker County. Only three years earlier it had been in Sioux country and the lake had an Indian name. Now it would be Sellards Lake and it is so called today.
The Scalf and Sellards children grew to adulthood and began to move on themselves. Mary Clark Sellards died in the 1880's and her husband moved to Fredericktown, Missouri, where he died in 1889. Solomon, Scalf, eldest of the Scalfs, homesteaded at Norma, North Dakota, in 1900. In 1908 he was at Coronach, Sasketchewan, a town 25 miles north of Scobey, Montana. Wheat from Solomon's farm was wagoned to Scobey. (6)
George Scalf, son of Solomon, engaged in the farm implement business in Coronach until the 1930's. We are indebted to his son, Clare, for an interesting commentary on the time and place.
"Came the great drouth that gripped the Western United States and Canada in the early '30's and George Scalf was forced out of business. Clare remembers his father repossessing farm machinery on bankrupt ranches. Sand was piled everywhere, against the fences and barns and over the machinery. He helped dig the machinery out. Clare remembers, too, the grasshopper plague that attacked the area later. The 'hoppers consumed everything edible and relief trains of the Canadian government doled out food." George finally located in the town of Swan Rivers Manitoba, in 1939, where he has been mayor for 15 years.
"This branch of the family has ever been restless, always seeking a new frontier ... Gloria, daughter of George, married at Juneau, Alaska, and keeps the postoffice of Haines Junction, operates a store with her husband, Alvin Franklin Allison, at Mile Post 1016 in the Yukon Territory on the Alcan Highway." (7)
Out of the obscurity of the past emerges a Scalf family, its genesis in Pennsylvania, that located in Missouri two decades before the Civil War.
"The family record goes back to 1815, to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to the birth of John Scalf. Little is known of his early life in Pennsylvania but we do know that he came to Southeast Missouri in 1840. There he married and though the name of his wife is not known, we do know that they had two sons, Wess and Frank. Sometime after the birth of the youngest child, his wife died. John, being a man who loved to travel, left the two sons with a Mr. Young in Unionville, Mo. and began a long career as a roaming man.
"He first made his way to California in 1849 with dreams of making a fortune in the Gold Rush. Unlike many, he was fortunate enough to strike it rich. He tired of the life of a miner or else the gold strike ended. The next record we have is that of further wanderings. He boarded a ship and sailed around Cape Horn and landed at Philadelphia.
"The urge to see his sons and the old home in Missouri possessed him and he went to the railway station but he found that he would have a four-hour wait before he could entrain. While he was waiting his attention was drawn to a little house just across the street from the station. His gaze kept going to the little old man who was sitting on the porch ... Something about that man seemed to draw John. The impulse to go across and speak to him grew stronger and stronger and just when he had decided to go speak to him the train pulled into the station. Years later, when John's brothers Louis Scalf, came to Missouri, he told a story that caused John untold sorrow as the years went by. Louis said that the old man reading the newspaper on the porch of that little house was none other than John's own father whom he had not seen since he left his home in Pennsylvania in his youth." (8)
Records show that John Scalfs the Revolutionary soldier, and Edeah (Edy) Carlisle Scalf, had 16 children, - ten boys and six girls. Several disappear in the limbo of the frontier of the early 1800's; a few emerge briefly with marriage and land records.
One of these sons, Peter, came from Southwest Virginia, settled in Southeastern Kentucky. He took his fling at the midWest, stayed 18 years in Indiana but returned to die in Knox County, Kentucky. Ira, his brother, was a minister of the Baptist church, and a farmer. He was probably born in Russell County Virginia, married in South Carolina, and moved to Clay County, Kentucky. The restlessness of the Scalfs found outlet in his preaching missions over the region. If we are to believe tradition he was home chiefly at planting time and at harvest. His descendants are found all over the mid-West.(9)
The frontier was disappearing in the last decade of the Nineteenth Century but at late as the first years of the new century Scalfs were probing the west, seeking new homes and a better life than the montane region of Eastern Kentucky offered. Left to homestead were large areas of Oregon and Washington.
The picturesque wagon trains. to the west had disappeared with the building of the transcontinental railways and it was possible to migrate west in comfort and security. Back on Buffalo Creek, Pike County, Kentucky, Scalfs heard of the unappropriated lands in Washington. In 1911 they were in a fever pitch of selling land and making preparations for the transcontinental trip.
Heading the western venture were the brothers, John Wesley Scalf (1873-.1962) and William Wayne Scalf (1870-1931). Accompanying them were their uncle, Amos, and several of the allied families of Goble, Thompson and Music. All took their families to heavily forested but unappropriated lands on the Cowlitz River, in Lewis County, of Central Washington. Following in a few years was Melvin Scalf, grandson of Brittan, to homestead also on the Cowlitz. He reared a family, his wife died and in his declining years he returned to die and be buried on the ancestral farm on Buffalo Creek,, Descendants of the others on this 1911 migration to Washington are still there, their homes under the backdrop of Mount Ranier. (10)
America was young when Lewis Scalf was born, In the intervening two and one-third centuries of Scalf history members of the family had gone west and north with the tide of empire. Out of Colonial North Carolina, into the new states of Kentucky and Tennessee, the Scalfs moved, slowly at first and then in succeeding generations, impelled by the innate restlessness of the tribe, faster and farther to the west and northwest.
Wherever they went they had a nostalgia for the lands they left and their people wherever they could be found in the burgeoning America, They have ever been gregarious and garrulous, always vocally articulate with stories of the past and an exegetic analysis of ties of consanguinity.
In 1962 a segment of the Northwest Scalfs converged on the World's Fair at Seattle and, typical of their tribal affinity for others of the clan, held a reunion. Many of them had seen a lot of the world since their widowed ancestress, Clarinda Sellards Scalf, had settled a century earlier in Minnesota. "It was a glorious reunions" one wrote. "Their slides each night of Europe and Asia were enriched with narration, records, native wear and pieces of art....About thirty of us had to stay under one roof the city was so crowded...."
He closed with a warm concern for a distant relative.
"Wherever you are, may the winters be light on you." (11)
CHAPTER VII NOTES
1. Deposition of John Scalf, Jr., Hawkins County, Tennessee, July 11, 1845, before Robert Rogers, Justice of the Peace, in support of his father's pension application declaration.
2. Deposition of Polly Trent, Hawkins County, Tennessee, July 17, 1845, before Justice Rogers, in support of John Scalf, Senior's declaration.
3. Tradition of the Hezekiah Scalf generation who heard it directly from Talitha Couch Scalf.
4. Collin County, Texas Census for 1860.
5. Told by Ellen Shortridge Tunnell, Seattle, Washington, who heard the story from her mother, Clarinda.
6. Letters of John R. Scalf, nephew of Solomon, Shreveport, La., to the present writer.
7. Excerpt from "Descendant of Floyd Immigrant Intrigued with Wiley Country," by Henry P. Scalf, in Floyd County Times, Prestonsburg, Kentucky, May 28, 1959.
8. Manuscript on John Scalf family of Missouri prepared by Della Rae Marvin, Seattle, Washington, and in possession of writer.
9. Research of Mrs. Elsie Payne Archer, Springfield, Illinois.
10. From manuscript on the family by Mae Scalf Kirkpatrick, Elbe, Washington, in possession of writer.
11. John R. Scalf, Ruston, La., to Henry P. Scalf.
Copyright (C) 1970 by Henry P. Scalf, All Rights Reserved.