top of page

Francis Marion Wilcox Journal

Part 2

Francis Marion Wilcox


Part 2

      I have been silent so far as to our own Grandfather's history in order that I might give him a place just before that of our own dear father's history. Hence I will tell you now what little I know of him.

His Christian name was Isaiah and he was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina on February 20th 1796 and remained in said county with his father until grown.

     A portion of Wilkes County was stricken off and the County of Ashe made when our people moved into the new country, settling on the south fork of New River, on the waters thereof. The County was new with game in abundance everywhere and much of Grandfather's time was employed in the chase after elk, panther, bear, deer and wild turkey. Yet at intervals he worked on the farm and in his father's shop. Being a natural genius, he soon learned to be a good workman in iron and steel, also a very good gunsmith. In a word, he was a good blacksmith and could make any piece of common machinery then in use. While in the woods he was equally good, Yet he devoted most of his time to making wagons which he ironed and sold as occasions demanded.

     Grandfather, while hunting and roaming over the hills of this new country, became acquainted with one William Greer, whose wife was a relative of the eccentric Peter Cartwright, being herself the mother of several young ladies among whom was Jacintha, who afterward married one Hardin Parsons, and one named Fannie. Isaiah became "all broken up" on the latter. He courted, wooed and won her hand and about the year 1817, they as before stated, were married and settled on New River in Ashe County, North Carolina.

     On or about the year 1820, William Greer with his family, also Isaiah Wilcox, his son-in-law, concluded to migrate to the Three Forks of the Kentucky River in the State of Kentucky, what is now called Owsley County, Kentucky. They made the trip like the Boones on horseback and pack mules and after crossing many high hills and precipitous mountains, they finally arrived at the end of their journey and made another addition to the few then comprising the settlement at the Three Forks of Kentucky River (where now the town of Proctor is located). Here for a short time they devoted their attention principally to hunting and farming and blazing out new lines of travel and while here in this wilderness home, on the 7th of March 1821, Isaiah's second son was born whom he named after his father, calling his son Samuel.

     The small colony became homesick and as the Indians quite often made dashes into the wilds of Kentucky in search of game and generally decorated their belts with more or less white scalps. This magnified their horrors and made them long for the flesh pots more than ever and on or about the fall of 1821 or in the spring of 1822, they pulled up stakes, packed their horses and mules and after a long, yet successful journey they arrived in Ashe County North Carolina where all settled anew. Some of those who returned, to lament their choice, while others were only to remain, gather fresh courage and be off again.

William Greer remained on the waters of New River until removed by death during the spring of 1862, being near ninety seven years old. He always longed for Kentucky and believed it to be the "promised land". His wife Hannah also died there in the same year being up into ninety. He heard their funerals preached by Uncle William Wilcox in the summer of 1862.

Isaiah Wilcox after his return to Ashe County, worked at his trades and devoted considerable time to hunting. He had now become older in years, the county was becoming more densely populated, schools were being formed and children given a limited education. Isaiah had never had a chance to educate himself, yet from moments gathered, he learned to read, write and cipher quite well. Though his books were few he came more diligent in pursuit of the Bible. With him to read was to know it and from its sacred pages, he was led to behold his fallen state, implored God's mercy, received pardon and was called to preach the Gospel that he had been reading.

      At first, he told me, he disobeyed the call. Yet, there was no rest of mind or peace of soul until he gave the inviting spirit his word that he would make an attempt. He obeyed, the spirit came, light shown in and darkness went out. God, thru this man, spoke to many crowds of people. Years rolled on and his fame went abroad. He was called to the highest seat in the Baptist church. The Lord seemed ever with him, but lo, in an unguarded moment, Isaiah listened to the tempter's sweet voice. He forgot God and relied on himself and was no longer a pillar of strength. He attempted to speak and preach but the enlightening Spirit had taken its flight. The flesh is weak, the Devil comes now boldly forward and demands his labors and Isaiah forgets and gives his consent. Oh wretched man that he was. He desires to see those to whom he had preached Christ to no more. He arises up and abandons those who had almost worshipped him. He comes to Kentucky once more, this time stopping in Pike County, Kentucky, but here he would not remain. He longs for the chase and here he goes to the wilds of the Elk River in West Virginia where game abounds. Here he hunts, traps, makes guns and seems in almost isolation, unsatisfied.

Father and Joseph Houck go in search of him about the year 1847 to find him on the head of the Elk River in rough country. They induce him to return to North Carolina and he did so only to see his deserted family.

      He longed to be back. He takes Aunt Nancy Matilda and goes to Pike County, Kentucky. Here he remains only until Aunt married and then Isaiah arises and goes to Pound River, Virginia and there forms an attachment to Sarah Mullins who becomes his second wife. They remain here two or three years, then move to Wise County at the Pound post office in said county about five miles south of the top of the Cumberland mountains at a point called Pound Gap. Here he worked the blacksmith trade until 1853 or 4, moved to Pike County, Kentucky and settled on Shelby Creek where he remained until 1863 when he immigrated to Carter County, Kentucky, settling on the Little Sandy River. While in Pike County, Kentucky on or about the year 1856 or seven, he was again visited by the Spirit and promised the Lord once more that he would go about His work. He did so and the Spirit of the Lord attended him as he claimed enlightenment and understanding was given him and more light on His word then ever before. He lived in the county until February 10, 1879. He preached an able sermon on Sunday morning and returned home and that evening contracted pneumonia, grew worse and on Wednesday following was summoned away from earth, dying as one going to sleep. He was decently interred on Thursday evening on top of a hill near where he died on the left side of Little Sinking Creek and on the left side now of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad on Upper Hill Farm then belonging to William Salsbury.

      The writer of this sketch was present and saw Isaiah Wilcox buried, he buying his last suit in which he was clothed for the last time. His wife and children have written their consent that his remains be exhumed in this year 1893 and be transferred to the family cemetery of our family on Deer Creek, Carter County, Kentucky and laid by the side of his son, Sam - the first man buried here in the year 1864.

     Grandfather Isaiah Wilcox was a man about five feet ten inches tall, would weigh about one hundred and sixty five pounds at his fighting weight in middle age. He was fair complected and a good looking man, with straight black hair, blue eyes, shoulders a little stooped and as age came upon him he became more so. He was a man of rather slow speech, yet positive and firm when not roiled. Yet when his temper became aroused, his whole frame seemed set in motion and his tongue worked as though on a pivot.

     He was a man possessed of a quick temper, yet he controlled it in a becoming manner and if enraged, like a troubled water he soon became smoothed down and was a pleasant as though nothing had disturbed his peace and quietude.

In the days of his young manhood, he more than once was assailed by young bloods who desired to test his manhood. They offered insults and received blows until satisfied to say enough. He did not seek pugilistic engagements, yet accommodated those making a trespass on his good nature. Hiram, his second son by his second wife Sarah Mullins, more fully represents his temperament in youth that I can from his own descriptions of himself to me.

He was fond of telling hunting stories-true, which were always patiently listened to by us boys and relished at all times. He possessed much good judgment and was able to give advice well calculated to benefit all.

      He wore a 7 1/4 hat in size, a number 15 collar, 37 coat and vest, pants 33 by 33, shoes number 9 and often 10. One of his favorite sayings in the pulpit was, "Sometimes Old Zade gets into very deep water and 'tis with much difficulty he wades out!"

When attended by the Spirit in addressing an audience and when warmed up, he would invariably call them all "Children - Children!" His prayers offered were such as seemed coming from the heart, made by groanings and utterings of the Spirit, yet destined to reached the Courts of Heaven, pierce the ears of a kind Savior, Jesus Christ, when he preached and plead for those lost by Adam's transgressions.

      He was in politics a Republican, deep and dyed in the wool. He believed in one Government, one flag and one Constitution and a government for all. He died a poor man, yet it is often said to the writer that at death he would be as rich a man as those possessed of their earthly millions.

     The second wife of Isaiah Wilcox was as stated before a Miss Sarah Mullins born March 1826 and a daughter of one John Mullins called, I believe, Chunky Bill. He was a descendant of a tribe immigrating to Virginia in an early day and their name and number in and about the head of the Big Sandy River in Pike County, Kentucky and Wise County, West Virginia is like the sands of the sea. The mother of Sarah was a Miss Temperance Blaylock, a daughter of John Blaylock of Dee River, North Carolina who was a soldier in the Revolutionary War of 1776. He proved to be a gallant brave soldier possessed of much true courage and daring that never knew fear or shirk from performing a duty no matter how perilous.

      To Isaiah and "Sallie" (Sarah) were born the following children: Dulcenia, Louisa, Andrew Jackson, Hiram, Carolina, Thomas Jefferson, Isaiah and Catherine as well as one or two pair of twins that died in infancy whose names I never knew. The above named offspring all reside in Carter County near Willard. Carolina died some years ago. The boys are all good clean men and useful. They are esteemed by me as good boys and should I never see them again, I wish them well, also "Sallie" their aged mother who has often divided rations with me.


       She was a woman possessed of much courage, tall, rather dark complected, black hair, black eyes, stammered a little in speech and when roiled would say, "There's nary a Devil if I don't learn you on which side your bread is buttered!" and 'twas only a word or a blow with her. Her and grandfather lived agreeable. She was very kind and devoted to him all through his life. Her nature was to be kind yet she lacked nothing in temper but could control it admirably.

"Sallie" after Grandfather died remarried a man named Wright residing on the waters of the fork of the Little Sandy River near Willard, Carter County, Kentucky. Wright died on or about the year 1888 and "Sallie" went to live with her son-in-law, a Mr. Bryant residing in Willard, Kentucky (whose wife was Catherine). She lives there yet, I presume.


bottom of page