Friday, April 18, 2014

Zachariah Callaway - A soldier and a mountain man

(Family Lineage: 1 Zachariah Callaway;  2 Sarah Callaway;  3 Eliza Frances Walker;
4  Emarine Bartram, 5 Queen Rebecca Dickerson; 6 Edna Bethel Franlin ; 7 Judith Ann Hayward)

1749 - 1816

The Callaway family arrived in America in 1682 and became  plantation owners specializing in growing tobacco.  Although Zachariah is believed to have been born in Delaware, he and his wife, Ellender (aka Eleanor) Boyd, were married in Virginia, lived in Maryland, and died in the mountains of Monroe County, Virginia near Peterstown  (now West Virginia).  Life was hard and money was always tight for Zachariah and Ellender who, by 1776, had three children.

There is an unsubstantiated family tale passed down through the generations about two brothers (believed to have been Zachariah and Isaiah Callaway).   According to this story, in 1776 the older brother,  Isaiah, was able to convince Zachariah to enlist with him because the pay was good and dependable. 

Then, after succeeding in getting Zachariah to enlist, Isaiah smoothly talked himself into a cushy position on staff and became highly successful in establishing himself as a friend and confidant among the military officers and their families.  At the same time, however, his kid brother was assigned to guard the ammunition magazine filled with gunpowder, thus putting him into a constant state of anxiety about being blown up - a fear which consumed him for the rest of his life. 

According to his 1777 militia pay stub, in July 1776  Zachariah had volunteered to participate in the “Cherokee Expedition”  against the Cherokee tribes living in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. These tribes were strongly allied to Great Britain, and encouraged to wreak havoc among the Southern colonies.  In retaliation, the main force of 1,800 Virginia volunteers marched southwest, passing through the northern Cherokee border, while Georgians attacked north through the southern border of the Cherokee lands. At the same time, the North Carolina militia joined up with the South Carolina militia which aimed at the central heart of the Cherokee lands.
It wasn't long before the Cherokee became divided on their plan of action, and soon the elders and majority of the nation sought peace terms from the colonials.  From that point on, the expedition met little resistance as it marched into the heart of Cherokee lands in what is now Tennessee where their energies were devoted to rebuilding abandoned forts on the former Cherokee land, in order to establish a long term presence in the territory. However, even after the agreement was reached, a rogue faction of Indians, composed mostly of younger men, continued  to raid the colonials and then quickly flee.

Zachariah's official job title  was "armourer" and "assistant", meaning that he was responsible for maintaining and repairing small arms and weapons; and from 1777 to 1783 Zachariah served in Valentine White's Second Battalion of Augusta County, VA.  The fact that Zachariah was an armourer is especially interesting in light of his intense fear that he could be blown up someday by gunpowder. 
Gun lock on Revolutionary era rifles
  Official records show that upon resigning from active service, he was paid 20.10. pounds for his service, plus reimbursement for "two gun locks" (similar to the one shown). He was also granted bounty land on Peters Mountain, a 52-mile long mountain in the Allegheny Ridge, the longest mountain in the New River area of West Virginia.  History tells us that until his death, Zachariah lived and died in a sturdy "blockhouse" (such as the one showed below) on Trigger Run which could not be easily destroyed by fire or explosions. 


Zachariah's life was not always very laudable, but definitely interesting. For instance, on June 18, 1777, while under the command of Colonel William Meade in New London, VA,  27 year old Zachariah was a part of a mob which tarred and feathered a loyalist named John Hook.  

There is also the story that Zachariah had always believed in the honesty of his slaves and had stipulated in his will that upon his death that they were to be freed and provided for.  He simply would not believe his family members when they told him that his slaves were stealing from him.  Finally, in frustration, Zachariah's son lifted his dying 67 year old  father up so he could look out the window, where he saw his old slave walking out of the smoke house with a ham on his shoulder.  It was reported that after seeing what he thought was a betrayal,   Zachariah immediately called for his will and tore it up!  That is the legend - but his published will did not mention disposition of his slaves upon his death.  Perhaps he did free them before he died after all!

On the heroic side, he served valiantly for seven years fighting for our country in its early struggle for independence.  In addition there is no doubt  that he and his wife, Ellender, raised their 10 children to make a deep impact on their country and the generations which followed them.
In 2009, one of those descendants, Edward Stapleton, discovered in the middle of a farm field the small hidden Callaway Cemetery where Zachariah and Ellender had been buried.  The project to clean up the cemetery and restore the graves of their ancestors was then taken on by numerous members of the extended family.  Even the Veteran's Administration responded to the family's request to provide a new engraved headstone in order to honor Zachariah's service during the Revolution.  As all this work was progressing, a startling discovery was made. They found Zacheriah's original headstone lying face down - dirty but intact. It was carefully cleaned and re-set next to the new  headstone provided by the Veteran's Administration.  Both of them still stand today next to an American flag and a "Sons of the American Revolution" emblem.