Eller Chronicles Feb 92 p-9

The Eller Chronicles


ELLER CHRONICLES   Feb. 1992 Page 54


By Paul E. Hubbell

Emeritus Professor of History in Eastern Michigan University with a Foreword and an Afterword by His Brother Jay B. Hubbell, Jr. April, 1977


On N.C. Highway 52 (the Boone Trail) there is a roadside marker erected to commemorate the last act in a tragic and forgotten episode of the Civil War. Nowadays the cars speed past the marker too quickly for the motorist to read it. Years ago no doubt an occasional motorist slowed down to read the marker and perhaps tried to recall what in his youth he had heard about the Bushwhackers who in the winter and spring of 1864-1865 had terrorized the families of Confederate soldiers who were away from home fighting the last battle of a losing war.


Fortified stronghold
of band of robbers &
army deserters, was
captured by force of
citizens in May, 1865.
Stood one mile north.

Fort Hamby, as I learn from two unsigned articles In the Bicentennial issue of the Wilkesboro Journal-Patriot for October, 1976, was a two-story log house on a high hill overlooking the Yadkin River valley near Holman's Ford in Wilkes County. It was situated on the north side of the Yadkin and on the east side of Lewis Fork Creek. The revised edition of the North Carolina Guide (1955), edited by Blackwell P. Robinson, page 518, gives this all too brief account of the capture of Fort Hamby:

After the Civil War a band of army deserters and outlaws, who had been plundering Wilkes County for several months, were trapped in a house which was set afire. All the bandits except Col. Wade, their leader, surrendered, were tried, sentenced, and shot. Tradition relates that while Wade was being sought he escaped by hiding under the waters of the Yadkin River near the bank, breathing through a reed.

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Until after the Civil War our grandparents, James and Mary Ann (Carlton) Eller, lived in Wilkes County on Lewis Fork Creek; and my brother Paul, my sister Ruth, and I all have vivid memories of what our mother, Ruth Eller Hubbel (Mrs. David Shelton Hubbel), told us many times about the inhuman treatment her father and mother suffered from the hands of the Bushwhackers. In 1931 my brother, who is by profession a historian-- he taught modern European history for many years at Eastern Michigan University-- decided that it was time to make some permanent record of Bushwhacker activities while our mother and her brothers were still able to write and talk about them. He wrote first to her younger brother, Adolphus Hill Eller, Trust Officer and later Vice-President of the Wachovia Bank and Trust Company in Winston-Salem. He replied on September 23, 1931:

Your letter of September 10th came to hand, and as the Fort Hamby incident was a little too early for me [he was born in April, 1861] to recall the facts, although I had heard them discussed more or less all my life. I sent your sketch to brother H.A. and he has written his recollections of the incident and the period, which I am enclosing to you.

The older brother, Harvey Augustus Eller (born in July, 1855), was an Ashe County farmer and county commissioner. He wrote two long letters almost identical, one in pencil and one in ink. The letter of September 21, 1931 (in ink), included in my brother's essay, is a concise factual account of the activities of no less than three separate gangs of outlaws who plundered and terrorized the families of Confederate soldiers. This letter forms the basis of Part I of my brother's essay. Part II is based on his recollections of what our mother said many times to her children about the Bushwhacker atrocities. My brother also made some use of a letter that she wrote on September 15, 1931, after reading his first version of the Bushwhacker story.

My brother has recently revised the account he wrote forty-six years ago and now wishes it deposited with my professional papers in the Jay B. Hubbell Center for American Literary Historiography in the Duke University Library. In an Afterword I have added some account of the family of James and Mary Ann Eller after October, 1865, when they moved to Ashe County..... April, 1977, Jay B. Hubbell, Sr.

My mother's parents were James Eller (1828-1925) and Mary Ann Carlton Eller (1830-1924). They were married in 1849, and until October, 1865, when they moved to Ashe County, they lived near the New Hope Church on Lewis Fork Creek in Wilkes County, N.C.

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The Eller family was divided by the war. James Eller's three older brothers-- Harvey, John, and William-- settled in Iowa and Nebraska in the early 1850's. They were loyal supporters of the Union. The five younger brothers, all living in North Carolina, supported the Confederacy. Thomas Eller was killed at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863; his brother David died at Drewry's Bluff in 1864; a third brother, Captain Jesse Eller, who was wounded at Spotyslavania Court House, carried a rifle bullet in his body until his death in 1900. (Jesse Eller's grandson Earnest McNeill Eller graduated from the Naval Academy in 1925 and became an Admiral in the U.S. Navy.) At the outbreak of the Civil War James Eller was thirty-three years old with a wife and five children. Nevertheless he volunteered for service in the Confederate Army. He was rejected as physically unfit. Typhoid fever had left him with a slight lameness in one leg.

That kind of devotion to the cause of the Confederacy was rare in Wilkes County and, indeed, throughout Appalachia. In Smyth County, Virginia, where my father was born, his father Robert Henry Hubbell, thirty-four years old with a wife and six children, was among the first to volunteer. He served in the Confederate army for three separate periods of enlistment. When in 1864 he returned to the army for the last time, he took with him my father's oldest brother William, a lad of sixteen or seventeen.

The mountain people had few slaves, and many of them came to feel that they had been involved in the war by politicians from the cotton plantations where there were many slaves. As the war dragged on, there were heavy casualties and more desertions from the Confederate armies, especially after the loss of the decisive battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg. In 1864 the number of desertions increased as the armies of Grant and Sherman drew closer to Richmond and Atlanta. Some soldiers no doubt deserted because they thought their families desperately needed them, but most of them deserted because they no longer had any faith in a losing cause.

When the deserters came home, they found that some of their neighbors looked upon them as traitors. Often they had to hide out in a thinly populated Yadkin River valley. Soon there was limited warfare between the deserters and the militiamen of the Home Guard. There may have been some hardened criminals among them, but the Bushwhackers now seem rather the social and economic product of the war, civilian fear, and the dislocation of their loyalties and affections.

According to the Wilkesboro Journal-Patriot, there Fort Hamby some deserters from the Union armies; leaders of the gang, Wade and Lockwood, are said deserted from the Union army of General Stoneman who to have come through Wilkesboro In March, 1865. The probably wrong, for it does not allow enough time Yankee deserters to become the leaders of the Bushwhackers before the capture of Fort Hamby. That gang was said to have contained eighty-five deserters from Wilkes and adjoining counties. They are said, in the Journal-Patriot, to have been armed with Union army rifles of the latest model.

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Bina, NC
Sept. 21, 1931

Dear Bro. A.H.

.   .   .   Bow in regard to the fort Hamby matter I will say that much that was once fresh & plain in my memory has faded out in a measure, but I still remember some of what was current report during the spring of 1865.

Fort Hamby as you know was on the North side of the Yadkin river near the mouth of Lewis fork It was an old time log house & kitchen an a hill over looking the river for some distance up & down the Valley & also the roads. It was owned and occupied by Sallie Hamby, a woman of questionable character. In this house a number of Strangers to that locality congregated & went out from there over Wilkes & Alexander Counties plundering & robing during the winter & spring of 1865. The leader was called Maj. Wade good looking and fairly intelligent. Others of the gang were named Lockwood & Honeycut. Four were taken & shot at the fall of Fort Hamby, viz, Lockwood & Honeycut. I do not recall the names of the other two. Wade made. his escape to the river & concealed himself til he could escape. After the fall of Ft. Hamby times got better, as about that time the men returned home from the army. The men who took Ft. Hamby were from Alexander & Iredell Counties. The man who prayed for the desperadoes referred to in the write up was Rev. Steel & the commanding officer was Col. Sharpe./I/

Another Company who cooperated with the Ft. Hamby gang was headed by C. W. Hayes of Purlear, Wilkes Co. He operated about the same time as the crowd headed by Wade & in connection. Hayes had the largest gang and made his headquarters at his own house near Purlear 8 miles west of Wilkesboro beside the present State Highway No. 60 (the Boone Trail). His gang was composed largely of local deserters from the Confederate ranks. This gang did much robing & plundering, Housebreaking & c They were a terror to several counties in N.W.N.C.

Another gang & and the first public outbreak of Bushwhackers in Wilkes Co. was led by Harison Church, in the fall of 1864. This outbreak was arrested by the leader being shot & wounded, and sent to Prison. It was shorter lived & more local than the others but It was headed & made up of desperate men & if it had not been checked would have done great damage. It was Hayes' gang that burned New Hope Academy at Purlear P. O.

This account contains some of the principal & leading facts about the time of the Fort Hamby history It was about the time of Lee's Surender at Appomattox and everything was unsettled, & law or order inforce except might & power and these bad men had it & exercised it.

If I can supply more data in detail I will answer any questions I am able. I was near ten years old when these things were enacted, and witnessed some very exciting & trying experiences that were forced upon my parents, kindred & friends, In Wilkes Co & not far distant from where these gangs operated.

I hope this may serve to give aid to P.H. in his write up.

As ever your Brother

H.A. Eller

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/1/ In the letter written in pencil H.A. Eller wrote: "I have seen a write up of the Ft. Hamby affair, but do not know who was the author, or where it can be found.”
The Journal-Patriot refers to Rev. W.R. Gwaltney's "eyewitness account of Fort Hamby, but does not state where it may be found.

When my Uncle Adolphus Hill Eller sent me his older brother's letter, he added this word of caution:

With these facts and your own imagination I am sure you can write a very interesting article. I have a little doubt about the wisdom of using the names of our family. Then too, If you mention the names of Hayes or Church they have numerous relatives in Wilkes and this section of the State, who can very easily take some offense.

My uncle's warning may perhaps have caused me to drop all thought of publishing my story of the Bushwhackers, but it did not prevent me from writing it. I see no reason why now, a hundred and twelve years after the capture of Fort Hamby, I should not make public my story. Many of the descendants of the Bushwhackers became good and loyal citizens, and no one should hold against them the sins of their ancestors.


My mother, Ruth Eller Hubbell (Mrs. David Shelton Hubbel), was seven years old in December, 1864. She was an intelligent, sensitive, and affectionate child; and in later years she had a vivid memory of what in her brother's letter was described as "some very exciting & trying experiences that were forced upon my parents, kindred & friends, in Wilkes Co & not far distant from where these gangs operated." There was deep feeling in my mother's detailed description of these "trying experiences"-- many times repeated to her children (my brother, Jay, my sister Ruth, and me). There was deep feeling also in the letter which she wrote to me on September 15, 1931.

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James Eller was a local agent of the Commissary Department, and when Wilkes County soldiers were reported as deserters, it was his duty to cut Off supplies of salt and meat that he had been distributing to the needy families of Confederate soldiers. As a result, James Eller became a marked man. The Bushwhackers began by plundering his home. They finally determined to kill him.

More than once the Bushwhackers raided my grandfather's place. These outlaws, my mother said, were "men of little property." 'Some of them", she added, " had worked for us and knew where to find things." They took meat and flour when they could find them. They drove off pigs and cattle and carried away chickens and turkeys. They took with them any firearms they could find. In her letter to me, written on September 15, 1931, she wrote: "They broke every glass in the windows and smashed most of the things they did not carry away."

Things got so bad that my grandmother, fearing for his life, insisted that my grandfather must go away from home for a while. On one such occasion he stayed with friends, I think, in Grayson County, Virginia. This time when the raiders came and failed to find him, they were profane and insulting to my grandmother. After digging up a ham, buried in the garden, they took away a horse -pistol and even cut some cloth from the loom. After loading up with pillows and quilts, one-armed Tom [Honeyhcut], who had lost a hand, seized a treasured bonnet and shawl for his share. Grandmother protested and told him that if he took "her own grandmother's silk bonnet and shawl," she hoped God would curse him and he would never know another moment's peace on earth. Tom gave way but claimed that he was "one of God's angels sent to punish her for her pride."

On another occasion when my grandfather was away from home, the Bushwhackers came with intent to kill him. They threatened grandmother, but they soon found they could get nothing out of her. "She was brave and never afraid for her self," my mother wrote in 1931, "but saw the danger that Father was in." Then they threatened the colored boy Bill Carlton, a present (about 1854) from my grandmother's father. He was a "house boy," about eighteen years old. The Bushwhackers told him they would kill him unless he told them where my grandfather was. He knew where his master was, but his reply was always that he didn't know. Then the Bushwhackers stood him up in one corner of the yard, placed a newspaper in his hand, and used It as a target for the half-drunken ruffians to shoot at. Bill was a Black Negro, but his face, my mother said, took on the color of ashes. Finally, the Bushwhackers decided that the boy didn't know where his master was and let him go. Sixty-six years afterwards in her letter of September 15, 1931, my mother gratefully remembered “the loyalty of Bill [Carlton], the colored man, who was so trusty and helpful to Father and Mother in those trying times."

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On this same occasion, my mother said, the raiders killed the family dog and shot the chickens down. Then, she said, Grandmother "gathered us children in the dining room where we were protected by a double chimney. She prayed to God silently for “protection from these unchristian rascals."

To a family suffering heavily from the war, my mother said, the Bushwhackers were a final straw of torment. Her older sister and brother-- Martha Caroline and Thomas Hamilton--had both died in May, 1962. The Bushwhackers killed Billie McNeill, a cousin who had been in the Home Guard. One of Grandfather's brothers was killed at the Battle of Chancellorsville; another died in an army hospital; and a third was crippled for life by bullet wounds. I do not wonder that when the war came to an end, my grandmother said she could no longer live in a region where she would have to meet some of these men and their families.

Mother's account of the capture of Fort Hamby contains some details not found In her brother's letter of September 21, 1931. The first group of men who tried to take the fort, she said, were driven off. The Bushwhackers refused burial for those attackers who had been killed. A humane woman, like Antigone of Thebes in Sophoeles' tragedy, spread her apron over the face of the dead in spite of the threats and curses of the fort.

The country side was finally aroused by the cruelty of the Fort Hamby gang. Young boys were ready to help and older men tried hard to get firearms and ammunition. Occasionally shots had been fired at the raiders when they passed through wooded areas. By the time of Lee's surrender in April, 1865, only the more desperate Bushwhackers were left in the fort. About forty resolute men were mustered from Iredell, Wilkes and Alexander counties. They were commanded by Colonel Sharp, who divided his company into two groups so that they might attack the fort from two sides. The attack continued for two days. Many shots were fired.

On the second night the leader of the Fort Hamby gang, "Major" Wade, who was fairly intelligent in his line of work, managed to escape. The account given in my uncle's letter written in pencil differs somewhat from that in the North Carolina Guide: "Wade the leader escaped through the lines In the dark of night & concealed himself under cover of the growth about the river till the following night when he made good his getaway." He is said to have gone to Iowa.

By the time this foxy rascal left the fort, the Bushwhackers had lost three men and exausted their ammunition. On the second night one of the attackers had managed to set the kitchen on fire. A good swimmer is said to have dived into the river to escape notice and set fire to the kitchen with what he carried in a waterproof package. The four men who remained, some of them wounded, decided to surrender. They displayed a white tablecloth and came out dejected and with bowed heads-- no longer cocky and swaggering-- and gave themselves up to the attackers with their long squirrel rifles.

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A form of trial was held, and all the desperadoes were voted "Guilty." They were sentenced to be shot for armed plundering, murder, and levying war against the people of Alexander, Iredell and Wilkes counties. Tom [Honeycut?] the man with only one arm asked the attackers to "be quick and get it over with/" The Bushwhackers were tied to stakes, but before they were executed a minister named Powell was asked to make a short prayer in their behalf. My grandfather Eller remembered the minister's refusal: "I cannot pray for such wicked men." Among the besiegers there was another minister named Steel, who volunteered to pray for them. He asked for "mercy on their souls, if God could have any mercy on them after much- deserved punishment."

In the log house Colonel Sharp's men found objects plundered from a hundred homes, such things as lace and vases from closet and parlor, bridles and saddles stolen from barns. While the executioners were burying the last of the Bushwhackers near the fort, others set on fire the house from which so many neighbors had been plunged into terror for their lives.

Times grew better after the capture of Fort Hamby and the return home of the Confederate soldiers in the armies of Lee and Johnson. Not long after the capture of the fort, as my mother remembered, a small detachment from Sherman's army passed that way on the Yadkin. When they were told about the outrages of the Fort Hamby Bushwhackers, the Union officer assured the families of Lewis Fork Creek that if there were any such gangs on their line of march, they would certainly give them the justice the Bushwhackers so richly deserved. The Bicentennial issue of the Wilkesboro Journal-Patriot gives the name of the Union officer as Captain Cowan. He ordered his men to give three cheers to celebrate the capture of Fort Hamby.

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My own recollection of what our mother told her children tallies with my brother's. I have added to his account a few details which I found in two unsigned articles in the Bicentennial issue of the Wilkesboro Journal-Patriot for October 28, 1976, and also two or three other items from a sketch of our family history which I wrote in the 1930's. In 1912 or 1913 I published in the Wake Forest College literary magazine a semifictitious story, entitled "Mose," based upon what my mother had told us about Bill Carlton. I have no copy of the story now.

Two or three years ago I saw on television a Walt Disney movie which seemed to me clearly intended as a dramatization of the Fort Hamby story. There were some excellent scenes which might well have been filmed in Wilkes County. Walt Disney's heroes, however, were entirely fictitious. They were a wounded Yankee colonel who took refuge in the home of a Confederate soldier and the Confederate soldier's twelve-year-old son. The Yankee colonel eventually rejoined his regiment, and it was his soldiers who captured the fort. Disney had left out the really heroic figures: Colonel Sharpe and his riflemen, the courageous and faithful slave, and our indomitable grandmother.

I recall some lines form Emerson's essay on "History:" "Time dissipates to shining ether the solid angularity of facts. No anchor, no cable, no fences avail to keep a fact a fact." The poet, he novelist, and those who make the Disney motion pictures seem to prefer legend to fact; but the historians--and my brother Paul is a historian-- make it their business to correct errors and give an accurate report of what actually happened when they can ascertain the facts. Mary Ann Eller and Bill Carlton were real people, not legends, and I don't want them forgotten. I remember the one occasion on which I saw Bill Carlton. That was on a visit to my grandfather's Ashe County home in the summer of 1911. Bill, who was then living somewhere in Southwest Virginia, had come with his horse and buggy to see his old master and mistress. That was forty-six years after he had become legally a free man. My grandmother gave him a room in the house, and she and my mother cooked his meals. He ate in the dining room along with the rest of the family but always at a separate table. But when I say my grandfather and Bill Carlton sitting on the front porch and talking about old times, I got a new conception of what in the antebellum South race relations had often been in families that owned only a few slaves. As I listened to their talk, there was no mistaking the feeling of mutual trust, respect, and affection in these two old-fashioned Southern gentlemen.

My grandfather and grandmother had been so outraged by the behavior of so many of their Wilkes county neighbors during the war that they did not want to ever see them again. So James Eller sold his Wilkes County farm and in October, 1865, moved his family over the Blue Ridge into Ashe County, which borders on Virginia and Tennessee. He bought a farm on the north fork of the New River at the foot of Phoenix Mountain. (altitude 4700 feet)) not far west from what is now the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The New River county is one of the most beautiful regions in the Southeast. and the New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world. It does not flow eastward like other rivers into the Atlantic Ocean but northward into Virginia. It cuts through the Appalachians into West Virginia, empties into the Kanawa, becomes a part of the Ohio and the Mississippi, and so finds Its way into the Gulf of Mexico.

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A dozen years ago the Appalachian Power Company made plans to build in Grayson County, Virginia, two dams that would have flooded some forty thousand acres of good farm and woodland and driven four thousand people from their homes In Ashe and Allegheny counties in North Carolina. None of the electricity generated by these dams would have been available to those who live in North Carolina. There were naturally vigorous protests from farmers, educators, and environmentalists. Arrayed against them were not only the Appalachian Power Company but the Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Power Commission, the AFL-CIO, and the courts. Yet just when after a dozen years of agitation and controversy the farmers and environmentalists seemed to have lost their case, President Ford and the Congress approved legislation which added the New River country to the Federal Wild and Scenic Rivers System, thus preserving it as a natural resource for future generations. North Carolina Congressman voted as a unit to save the New River. The Virginia Congressmen will, I hope, live to regret their opposition to it.

In this out-of-the-way part of the world life must have been difficult in the seventies and eighties of the last century. Roads were poor, and there was no railroad in Ashe County. The Ellers, however, were hardworking and thrifty, and they were good managers. My grandfather, the "Squire" as he was called, had a good farm on one side of the river, and three of his sons owned farms on the other side. Most of the time "Squire" or one of his sons also kept a general store and served as postmaster. During the first World War the name of the post office was changed from Berlin to Bina. Their neighbors as I remember them were for the most part hardworking and thrifty, and they owned their own farms. I never saw in Ashe County anybody who looked like the legendary "poor-whites" of Southern fiction.

When I was a boy I loved in summer to explore my grandfather's orchard for red June apples. In the early fall I would climb the big hill where the cows were grazing to pry open burrs that held beautiful brown chestnuts. I loved to pole my grandfather's dugout canoe up and down and across the river, and I remember how cold the river water was even in summer when my brother and I took a plunge in it before breakfast . With some of our many cousins we climbed old Phoenix for a fine view of the New River country.

I have no doubt that our grandmother spoiled us with honey, cookies, pies, and the yellow cheese that visitors praised as the best they had ever eaten. Mary Ann Eller was small of stature but full of energy and very affectionate. My mother left me a beautiful woolen blanket that Grandmother had made for her son Franklin Plato Eller before he entered the University of North Carolina as a freshman in August, 1889. She made the blanket out of wool grown on Grandfather's flock of sheep. She carded the wool, spun it, and wove it on her own loom. In 1976 it was still a beautiful blanket when I gave it to the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh to be added to its historical collection of textiles.

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My grandfather I remember as tall, handsome, well-built, still able at the age of eighty-three to do a day's work in the hayfield. With his gray beard be looked very much like General Robert E. Lee. He was a fascinating talker. His enunciation was excellent, and he had a deep musical voice. My brother remembers hearing him in the summer of 1911 singing "The Bonnie Blue Flag," One stanza, his favorite, reads:

For North Carolina and Arkansas
      Let a royal shout be given
For the one lone star of the Bonnie Blue Flag
      Has grown to be eleven.

He was intelligent, well-informed, and companionable. He took a lively interest in politics and might have been a candidate for office but he knew not only that Grandmother would not like it but also that he was a Democrat in a part of the state dominated by Republicans. Before he died, he had the satisfaction of seeing two of his sons elected to the North Carolina General Assembly as Democrats. He served as a deacon in the local Baptist church; and in earlier years he and his oldest son, Harvey Augustus, had devoted a great deal of time and energy to build up the Baptist churches In Ashe and Wilkes counties. (See the Index in George W. Pascall's HISTORY OF THE NORTH CAROLINA BAPTISTS, Vol. 11, 1955.)

My grandparents had ambition for their children, and they gave them the best education they could afford. My mother studied for a year at a girls' school in Abingdon or Bristol) Virginia. Most of her brothers had a year or two at the Moravian Falls Academy in Wilkes County. The three youngest went to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Adolphus Hill Eller graduated and became a successful lawyer and banker in Winston-Salem. Franklin Plato Eller died in Chapel Hill at the end of his junior year (June 15, 1892) of typhoid fever. The youngest and perhaps the most gifted of the brothers, John Carlton Eller, graduated in June, 1896, and came home to die soon afterwards, like his brother, of that same terrible plague, typhoid fever. In 1909 my uncle Adolphus Hill Eller, who had carefully preserved the college records, speeches, etc. of his younger brothers, asked me to make a book of them. The result was my first book, privately printed and paid for by my uncle, LIVES OF FRANKLIN PLATO ELLER AND JOHN CARLTON ELLER (1910).

(Eds. This book is reviewed elsewhere in this Issue of the Eller Chronicles.)

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My father, David Shelton Hubbell, as a young Baptist minister in Southwest Virginia, preached occasionally in Ashe County in the early 1880's. It was on one such visit that he first saw my mother. They were married on April 24, 1884. It was a happy marriage. Ruth Eller Hubbell was like the Biblical Ruth, who said to Naomi: "...whither thou goeth, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou dieth, will I die, and there will I be buried." My father no doubt often remembered these beautiful words and knew how well they described my mother. The last time I saw him only a few days before he died, I heard him say to her: "I have loved you ever since the first time I saw you."

Jay B. Hubbel, Sr.

(Eds. Our thanks to Patricia
Beck, Salisbury, N.C. for
a copy of this manuscript.)




(Eds. This and the following page obtained from the Baptist Archives, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC) This is the JAMES ELLER as in the above Bushwhacker story.

James Eller was born in Wilkes County, N. C. June, 25th, 1828. Professed a hope in Christ 1847. Was ordained a Deacon in New Hope Baptist Church 1853. Was a delegate to the Western Convention 1860.

Brother Eller came to Ashe County in 1865. He was President of the Convention that organized the New River Association at Mt. Pleasant Church He was leader of the movement to get letters for all the Churches in Ashe and form the Ashe and Alleghany Association, which was organized at Buffalo Church in 1886, with six Churches in Ashe and three in Alleghany. He was Vice -President of this Association for a number of years, and was Moderator of the Ashe Association 1898-1899-1900. Was a member of the State Board of Missions for several years.

James Eller was married to Mary Ann Carlton Oct. 24th, 1849. At this writing both are living, having been married seventy-two years. Through all of these eventful years Sister Eller has been one of God's real Saints and a true helpmeet to her husband. No sweeter Christian character can be found than that possesses by her.

The Lord has wonderfully blessed these good people with a long and fruitful ministry in His service. They have also been blessed with a highly honored and useful family of devoted Children and to whom they have been a real Mother and Father.

As a little token of appreciation of their great and useful lives and of the sweet personal fellowship with our dearly beloved Bro. and Sister Eller we hand to you this sketch.

May God bless them with many more days of happy service and testimony for Christ.

Yours in the Lord's service.

Geo. M. Reeves.
Bina Garvey Reeves.
138 Dewey Ave.,
Spartanburg, S. C.
Sept. 1st. 1921

(Eds. For more on the James Eller family see J. W. Hook, Geo. M. Eller, pp.269-276
Also, story of his son, Adolphus Hill,Eller, Eller Chronicles Vol. III,.No. 1, pp. 1-6.

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A Presentation at Conf. '91
A. W. Eller

It is not my intent in this presentation to cover the genealogy of the Ellers of Nebraska but rather to show how important it is to future generations to document the information that you and I have available to us as well as to encourage those who are disinterested to contribute.

The genealogy in Hook's book of two of the Nebraska Ellers, Harvey Eller, and his brother William, my great grandfather, shows the difference in results when some are interested and some are not.

Observe page 115 of the 1925 Hook book [See below], showing the total extent of William Eller's family - about one and one-half inches. The Harvey Eller family at this time covered about 10 pages. Pages 184-185, of the 1957 Hook book [See below] show the total extent of the William Eller family, almost one page. At this time the Harvey Eller family occupied nearly 100 pages. Incidentally p. 164 shows a method for inserting a note referencing revisions to be found in the projected Volume II. The Harvey Eller family had an enthusiastic genealogist in the James W. Hook, who was a member of the family by marrying Virginia Eller, Harvey's daughter, whereas it was apparent that there was no interested person to contribute information for our family, even thought they lived in the same county.

My grandad, Robert T. Eller, gave me the 1925 green book [James Hook and Virginia Eller] back in 1947 while visiting him in California. I'm sorry that I didn't have the forethought to grill him about his siblings or, of stories about him or of his grandfather.

Errors occurred in the 1925 book that were carried over into the 1957 book. A minor one concerned my granddad's middle initial. It was shown as 'M' in both books when in fact it was a 'T'. He was commonly referred to as 'RT' as well as Bob. He moved to California in 1939 and so was not around when the information was being gathered for the 1957 book. The other error was rather major. In the 1925 book there were 10 children of William Eller. In 1957 this had grown to 11. However, Mary and Angeline were one and the same. Obviously it was not a family member who furnished this informatin to Hook.

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In order to try to fill out the family of William Eller, I visited Clay County Courthouse where I found information about marriages of most of his children. I also found William's will which confirmed all of the children's names. There was one mystery which remains to this day. One of the children was named Frank Eller in both books. It turned out his name was shown in several documents as B.F. Eller. Other sources revealed that his name was Benjamin Franklin Eller. I also obtained cemetery records of several cemeteries in the surrounding counties. I owe a lot to Gerald and Donald Eller-, both grandsons of Harvey, for showing me my great grandfather's grave market, in Harvard, NE which gave me cause to pursue the cemetery records.

After I gathered all this information, I decided to try advertising in the Omaha, NE newspaper which in itself took several months to accomplish before I could find the correct department and person to handle the request. The -Feature writer's main theme was to give advice to people who were looking for their forebears. She wasn't too keen on printing my request verbatim. But enough was printed that I received a number of letters with some valuable information. Other contacts resulting from the newspaper article have given me a wealth of information with which to expand our family in Vol. II. However, whatever happened to Benjamin Franklin Eller remains the sole mystery.


    resided in Clay Co., Nebr.; (7) Sophronie Eller m Payton Colvard and resided in Okla.; (8) Edmund Lee Eller.
  • (3) Polly Eller, b. 1823; d. 1894; m. Esq. Allen Whittington. Lived and d. in Wilkes Co., N. C. Children: (1) Leander; (2) Elvira who m. Rufus Colvard who d. 1891; (3) Emily who m. a Vannoy; (4)Benjamine who m. a Colvard and d. 1891.
  • *(4) William Eller, b. 1825; d. Aug. 9, 1876; m. Catherine Parnell whose father was a drummer boy at Guilford Courthouse on Mar. 15, 1781. The family emigrated to Iowa with bro. John Eller in 1853 and later moved to near Harvard, Nebr., where he d. Children: (1) James Calloway Eller of Folsom, Calif.; (2) Thomas J. Eller of Clay Center, Nebr.; (3) Rev. David Eller, a Baptist minister; (4) Frank Eller; (5) Robert M. Eller; (6) Henrieta who m. Adalbert Peck of Wapello Co., Iowa; (7) Angeline who m. Mr. Hackett of Harvard, Nebr.; (8) America who m. John Knorr; (9) Martha who, m. Cleon Gould, and (10) Fannie, all of Clay Center, Nebr.
  • (5) James Eller, b. June 28, 1828; still living, 1925 ; m. Oct. 24, 1849, Mary Ann, dau. of Thomas Carlton, Esq. of Beaver Creek, N. C., b. Aug. 15, 1830; d. Aug. 30, 1924. He was made deacon of the New Hope Baptist Church in 1850 and was a delegate to the Western Convention in 1860. He tried to enlist in the C. S. A. in 1861, but was rejected on account of erysipelas. He was later appointed director of food supplies in Wilkes Co., and served in that capacity until the end of the war. His home was devastated by the invading Northern Army and camp followers and looters, and when the war had ended he moved his family to Ashe Co. near Berlin (now Bina) where he still (1925) resides. He was President of the Convention that organized the New River Baptist Association. He also Helped organize the Ashe and Allegheny Baptist Association and was elected Vice President. He was Moderator of the Ashe Association 1898, 1899 and 1900, and was a member of the State Board of Missions for several years. (See forward for children.)

From: J.W. Hook, James Hook and Virginia Eller, 1925
(Eds. This is the same James Eller, picture on p. 65 of this sisue)

ELLER CHRONICLES   Feb. 1992 Page 69

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