Friday, November 14, 2008

And you thought cast iron was just for cooking...

I did a nutshell view of the Kilgore family in an earlier blog. Rafe Kilgore married Amelia "Millie" Wheatley. Their daughter Nancy Kilgore married William Addington. Their daughter, Malinda Addington, married John Martin Bentley. Their son, Otho Bentley, married Nancy Alice Hall. Otho and Nancy were my grandparents. That would make Millie Wheatley Kilgore my great great great grand grandmother.

You also know that we are part of the Boone family. Daniel Boone is my first cousin eight times removed. Daniel's aunt, Mary Boone, married John Webb. That is our connection to Daniel Boone through our grandmother Mary Boone Webb.

I found an article that John Taylor Adams wrote describing an incident that happened to Millie when she was about 17 years old. What a family we come from.

Kingsport Times News
Kingsport, Tennessee
November 19, 1950 Page 12

Millie and the Bear by James Taylor Adams

Daniel Boone killed a bear.

I’ll go as far as to say that he may have killed a whole passel of bears. For if the
carved records, found all up and down East Tennessee, over Western North
Carolina, across Southwestern Virginia and throughout most of Kentucky, are
to be accepted at face value Daniel must have divided his time, about equally between shooting bears and recording the incident by knifing the bark of the nearest beech at hand.

If all the trees bearing the crudely carved legend: “D. Boon Kilt a Bar 17…” and
so on are taken into account, one is left wondering how the hardly old adventurer found time to blaze the trails and kill the Indians, credited to him by the historians.

One thing stands out: If Daniel Boone
carved all these beech bark records of bear killing he was a far-seeing man; he
fully appreciated the place he would occupy in history; and he didn’t want
to deprive the writing boys of a single thing that would make good reading

But Millie Wheatley was not like that. Milly took the killing of a bear in stride. She looked upon the affair as just
another incident in the life of a teen-age girl, living on the ragged fringe of
civilization; and she didn’t do any carving or, or even, drive a stake to
mark the spot where she laid low the ferocious beast. And, remember,
Milly did the hard way, without benefit of a gun of any other ordinary weapon.

Daniel Boone took a good aim and shot his bears, marking the places with laborious carving. But Milly Wheatley beat her bear’s brains out with a long handle skillet; cleaned up the mess, and went about her chores as if nothing had happened.

The time was about 1819. The place was Rye Cove section of Scott County.

One night William Wheatley and his wife left home to attend a religious service
at a neighbor’s house, several miles across the hills. Milly, who was about 17, stayed home with her brothers, Arter and Jackie. Maybe there were other brothers
and sisters; but, if so, I have no record of

Along about bedtime the fattening hog, penned about fifty yards, from the house set up a terrific squealing. The young folks knew that the porker was being
attacked by some wild beast.

The two young men looked about for the
gun. It was not to be found. Then they remembered that their father had carried it with him to the meeting. They were afraid to venture out in the night without arms. They would go as far as the door, then back up. All the time Milly was begging them, pleading with them, to go to the rescue of the defenseless hog. But she couldn’t get them started.

Standing on the steps, her hand shading her eyes, trying to pierce the dark, the girl could hear painful grunts and squealing
laments of the hog and the vicious growls of its attacker. And she knew by the growls that it was a bear.

Millie couldn’t stand it any longer.
Danger or no danger she was going out there. So, Running back into the
house and still pleading with her trembling brothers to do something, she
grabbed up the first thing at hand which happened to be the long-handle skillet,
in which they baked their bread, and rushed out into the night.

The boys, still shivering in fear, heard the bear’s growls increase in ferocity as
the hog’s defender arrived at the pen
and began to belabor the beast with the
skillet. The fight went on for ten or fifteen minutes. Then everything was quite (sic) for a moment except the more normal grunting of the hog, after which
They heard Millie calling, “Come out here, fraidy-cats, and bring me a torch!”

The young men obeyed their sister’s command, and, when they arrived at the hog pen, they found her tugging at the body of the biggest bear ever killed in that section of Scott County, trying to drag it out of the pen. Seeing that it was stone dead, the boys helped Milly get it
into the yard just as their father and mother arrived home from the meeting.

It is said that the Wheatleys had bear meat enough to last them all winter, even after they had distributed a mess here and a mess there, all over the neighborhood.

Soon thereafter, Little Rafe Kilgore, hearing of the bravery and prowess of pretty Milly Wheatley, began going over to William Wheatley’s courting; and it wasn’t long until he proposed and was accepted.

Brave Milly and Little Rafe were married in 1820. Soon thereafter they struck out to find a new home in the wilderness. They found it on Rocky Fork of Guests River; and here at the core of the community now known as Big Laurel, they built the first house in this section of Wise County and here they lived out their days and lie buried close by.

And today, the Kilgores are building a
monument to mark the site that Milly and Rafe chose for their home.

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