Saturday, October 19, 2013

Stop # 16: Virginia Civil War Trail Marker in Seminary

A Virginia Civil War Trail was recently installed in Seminary, an area previously known as Turkey Cove. Another Virginia Civil War Trail marker was installed in Keokee recently, commemorating Union Guide Daniel Ellis.  Two more markers will be installed in Lee County.  One will commemorate the Battle of Jonesville.  The other will commemorate the Battle at Wyerman's Mill.

Civil War Drills at Seminary United Methodist Church
During the Civil War, the 64th Virginia Regiment drilled on the grounds of the Seminary United Methodist Church. Reuben Steele was chaplain in the 64th Virginia Regiment during the Civil War and was with them when they drilled on the grounds of the old Seminary Church in eastern Lee County. The church was established in 1851 in Turkey Cove.  Over the years the structure served as a church, a school, and a Masonic Lodge.  The historic marker is located on Old US-58, 1.4 miles northeast of the junction of Old US-58 and US-58 Alternate. 

Daniel Ellis Marker at Keokee
Daniel Ellis information is available at and also at

And here is some more information related to Keokee and the Civil War:
Historian Dr. Larry Fleenor relates, "I suppose that enough time has passed from the events of the War of Northern Aggression for me to relate some of the stories about the Morrises. It was told to me by them, so it should not be too sensitive. The original Mr. Morris from this area had five wives, one at a time. From each he had a set of children. Each time he remarried he moved a little further west, and so there are little nests of Morrises who are descended from half siblings strung out from Big Stone Gap, Turkey Cove of Lee Co., Upper Crab Orchard (now Keokee of Lee Co.), across Morris's Gap in Little Stone Mountain in to Clover Fork (Holmes' Mill, Ky.) on to Harlan.  What started out as just a bad case of "half sibling rivalry" soon was worsened by the Civil War. The Morrises to the east were Confederate, and the ones deeper in Ky. were Union.  An interfamily clan feud got started that was part of the basis for John Fox. Jr.'s "Trail of the Lonesome Pine". The heroine was June Toliver, who was a real woman named Morris. Her father was Pearl Morris, who was the character Judd Toliver in the book. He lived in Keokee across from the school, and at the Virginia base of Morris's Gap, which was named after him. He was famed as a coal prospector. In the book, what was then Upper Crab Orchard, and is now Keokee, was called "Lonesome Cove". The feud described in the book was the real interclan Morris feud."  

The Civil War Battle at Wyerman's Mill
Wyerman's Mill and Gibson's Mill were located a short distance from each other on Indian Creek in Ewing, Virginia.  The Battle at Wyerman's Mill occurred on February 22, 1864.  Company A and others camped at Wyerman's Mill and Gibson's Mill on the east-west gap road between the Cumberland Gap to the west and the picket guards put out to detect rebels coming from the east in the direction of Roanoke.  At dawn the rebels attacked.  There must have been no time for orders.  History books call it a "sharp fight" with 1200 rebels, many on horseback, in the attack.  The smart and lucky ones ran down the stream and made their way frantically up steep embankments that the rebel horses could not follow.  Confederate reports gave the number captured as 256.  Only 4 officers and 60 men escaped the surprise attack. 

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