by Margaret Fleenor

As with any genealogy, it is never a completed product. To think that one could do a complete genealogy if one lived a life-span of a hundred years would not be logical. As long as a child is born, there is another branch to add to the tree, so on and on we go.

I have not fantasized that I could ever complete the Scalf family history alone nor, have I considered that it could be possible to finish with the hired help of a professional genealogist. However, I do believe that a "near" genealogy of one's ancestors can be accomplished with the help of all lines of the descendants.

It was my original plan to complete the third Scalf History in follow-up to Elmer Scalf's book as he suggested to me when I found him in 1986, but time has changed my mind considerably on that adventure.

My journey began in 1984 when my younger brother, Douglas Scalf, asked me who Berry B. Scalf was. My reply was, "well.....he was your great-grandfather, why do you ask?" Doug, (as he was more commonly known to us) was too young to remember the stories of the "old folks" even though he had spent as much time with our dad as I had when he reminisced about his ancestors. I, on the other hand, was a big whopping five years older and had a memory like an elephant! I was hanging onto every word. Not because I was such an attentive person, but I loved the old stories of an earlier time when life was much different and so very fascinating to me, not to mention the fact, I had never known grandparents and had always desired to have them.

While other children were playing "hide and seek," riding their bicycles, etc., I was roaming Chimney Top Mountain with my dad listening, spellbound, to the stories of folks I had never seen. The genealogy bug had bitten and I didn't have a clue what genealogy was. Over the years, I would remember the stories and the names but not how they fit.

That summer day in 1984 when Doug asked the question and explained how he had stopped off at the library to see if he could find his wife's family and had found some of ours, something happened. I just kept wondering who was Berry B.'s parents and their parents and the search began. For the next six months or so, my daughter, Doug and I spent many hours at the library trying to figure out just how this worked.

Eventually, my daughter would give it up and Doug had to stop going so much because it interfered with work, mowing the yard and of course, family time. However, I was not working and I didn't have to mow the yard so, I became such a regular customer at the libraries and courthouses in the East Tennessee area, they actually knew me by my first name and I could walk into the courthouses and straight on to the room I needed to go to without announcing who I was and what I was there for. I made many friends along the way, too.

I have seen several folks slip away to join that part of history. These folks were very helpful with suggestions about where to look for information. I have waded creeks, driven for miles on end, visited with folks I didn't know and have even been in life threatening situations just to find a SCALF.

Yes, I looked for the name on the mailbox, looked for the name in telephone books and even stopped at their homes, just to find out which Scalf they were. Crazy? I suppose so, but I met many, many wonderful folks and I don't regret a mile of it. Well......maybe the time in the mountains (I'll refrain from mentioning where this mountain was) when my car was surrounded by people while I was in the house talking to a 90-year-old-gentleman in bed sick and couldn't even hear me.

Little did I know before his daughter almost dragged us into the house to talk to him that he was actually dying. It was very hard to get away too, but when I saw the folks gathered around my car walking around it and looking into it rather suspiciously, I was a little uneasy for the first time in my journey and held my breath all the way to the car. I found out after my cousin and I unlocked the doors and got in, they were very interested in my brand new 1988 Cavalier. They thought it was really pretty. However, it reminded me of a scene from "Deliverance" and no one said anything until I started the car. An older gentleman tapped on the window (yes, it was rolled up) and asked what kind it was and said he really liked it. I was a bit relieved, but a little more cautious next time. A "little more" cautious that is.

Not enough though, for I found myself downtown in one of the larger cities in a neighboring state at 1:30 a.m. in the morning searching for the Archives while there was no traffic to worry with and I could look without any hindrance. This was not a good idea, for the street was full of folks and some were fighting. I ended up with a police escort and folks rolling across my car. Oh yes! always check with neighbors before you go onto land where there are old abandoned cemeteries. They can warn you about any land feuds going on or any possibility someone might shoot at you thinking you are the enemy up to "no good." If you check before you go, you won't have to find out afterwards that you could have been shot. Those are just a few tips on how to research in the Appalachian area, so please keep those things in mind.

Genealogy can be hazardous to your health. It most certainly can cause you much disagreement with family members, as well. Not all the family can see that visiting cemeteries on vacation is a thrill! I don't know why, but some folks are just funny that way. No libraries, courthouses, archives, visiting folks with family names on the mailbox. The family will usually want to do boring things like swimming, lying in the sun, boating. Really now, how can you find a mailbox on a pair of skis and you could be inside the archives where it's cool instead of in the hot sun, so the best thing to do is just leave the family at home or let them go and you stay home. You can have so much more fun while they're gone and you don't have to spend so much time trying to convince them that you'll only be a few minutes in the cemetery they just insisted you pass by. Don't let anyone tell you that you are addicted to it either. You can quit anytime you want to. I have quit many times.

To be reasonably good at genealogy, you must first raise children. Through this experience, you will acquire the knack of reading between the lines, digging out the answers and sharpening your powers of mental telepathy to know ahead of time, just where to go. If you have not raised children, then it can be done, but it might take a little longer to fine tune these abilities. It is also comforting to know that the kids who are making fun of you today for visiting cemeteries are the adults of tomorrow who will be insisting to their kids that they will only be a few minutes in the same cemetery they made you pass up, so just smile at them and know. They won't have a clue what you're smiling about either.

It has been a wonderful and very rewarding journey into the Scalf family since 1984 and I expect it to get even better as we build it together. I have taken the past works and followed up on the researchers before me as well as I possibly could. It is my hope and desire that we together, can bring this history together as near accurate as it can possibly be. One person can write a book and print all the documents found to support their information; however, one family can contribute much to fill in the gaps where records are not available, or folks do not live where the records are accessible to them. This is not just my family, but yours also. This genealogy belongs to all of us and we should build it together for we are family no matter how distant in miles, we share the same blood. It can also serve a medical purpose for our descendants to be aware of and maybe save some of them from early deaths, such as my brothers suffered.

Doug has passed on since that day in 1984, as well as the only other brother I had, James Harvey. They both lived long enough to know much of what I have found, but my dad did not live to see it begin. He would have been excited to know so many of his relatives for he loved the "kinfolks" and never stopped searching the cemeteries until he was no longer able. I feel it important to note here for the line of Berryman Scalf that there has been a considerable amount of heart problems and stroke in this line that has taken away many Scalf men of this line. Please be aware of this if you descend from this line and keep a close check on your heart and your blood pressure. There is a considerable amount of pulmonary and hypertension problems in this line. Female, as well as male. I have one sister left to share the history with and my mother. Our Scalf line ended with my brothers and this small contribution to our East Tennessee Scalfs is contributed in their memory.

   Ira Bernie Scalf (b) May 24, 1909 (d) April 6, 1972.
   Douglas Edward Scalf (b) March 16, 1957 (d) January 29, 1997.
   James Harvey Scalf (b) May 7, 1945 (d) November 28, 1988.

I have chosen to begin with Lewis Scalf because he is the first Scalf to be documented as a Scalf with this spelling. I do have information before Lewis, however, at this time I feel it more important to try and bring the descendants of Lewis together before we continue backwards. Please remember that these writings are my theories and theories only. I have based my theories on what the records show after a careful study and some reading and studying of the Colonial histories. In no way do I claim that any of this is written in stone, but I welcome any responses to this whether it be critical or supportive.

I think we should discuss our various thoughts on these issues. Someone may have something from the records that I don't have. I will follow these chapters with either descendant charts or genealogy reports so the references can be seen.

Margaret Fleenor

NOTE: Margaret Fleenor passed away on Thursday, March 31, 2022 after a courageous battle with cancer. Her contribution to Scalf family history will be a blessing to family history researchers for generations to come.