About Pound & Wise

Town History for Pound and Wise. Excerpts from Luther Addington's book about the story of Wise County, Virginia


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Central High - Towns of Pound and Wise

Historical Information About Pound and Wise

The following is a history of the towns of Pound and Wise as told by Luther Addington:


Historical Information About Pound

The Story of Wise County (Virginia)
By Luther F. Addington

"Pound" pages 195-198 ©Copyright 1956

Pound, the oldest town in the county, was the last one to be incorporated. It was incorporated April 7, 1950 and the first council held its first meeting Sept. 4 of that year. The members of that council were W. F. Jackson, mayor; Fields Austin, G. C. Branham, K. W. Meade, B. L. Bentley and Orby Cantrell, treasurer.

In thinking of Pound we naturally think of an area surrounding the town. Benjamin BoIling, whose story is related elsewhere in this book, was one of the first settlers. He came to the headwaters of the Pound River soon after returning to North Carolina from Guest River in 1789. Still dreaming of a home in the Cumber- lands, he made a permanent settlement at Flat Gap.

His ancestry can very authentically be traced back to Pocahontas the Indian princess who married John Rolfe. Other settlers on The Pound were Cantrell, Mullins, Hubbard, Bike, Branham, Shorts, Sandier, Boggs, Maxwell, Roberson, Baker, Church, Swindall, Pilkenton, Hay, and Killen.

Abraham Cantrell, the first of the name to settle in The Pound, came from South Carolina. He settled on the slope of Pine Mountain, south of Osborne's Gap and near the river. Sons of his settled on Bold Camp. It is said that Ambrose Mullins built the first house on Bold Camp. He had a large family and today his descendants are scattered over Virginia and Kentucky.
The Shorts were from Tennessee. They settled first on the South Fork of Pound. William Short was a descendant of the early settlers in Eastern Virginia.

Eff Sowards was the first settler on the North Fork. He built a mill there in 1835. William Roberson, who is probably remembered better than any other of The Pound Pioneers, because he established the first mill on the river, was, according to his son, Gus Roberson, born in England.
His first mill was situated in the bend of the river, east of the present crossroads in the town. It was not a mill in the modern sense. It was a horse-operated mortar and pestle, which pounded the grain into meal. From all over the country, five, ten, fifteen miles away people brought their turns to "The Pound." And people have been saying "The Pound" ever since.

There are those that contend that The Pound got its name from the practice of Indians pounding horses in the bend of the river. But it is known that Indians who traveled in these trails from north to south, walked.

Another theory is that the Long Hunters pounded their horses in the bend. But we know also that most of the long hunters walked. Then, even though horses had been brought here in the early days, a fence across the neck of the bend would not have kept the horses from crossing the river at most any place they might have desired to cross. Hence, it seems to this writer, that "The Pound" name originated from the big pounding mortar mill.

Roberson's first mill, operated by waterpower, was built a short distance down the river from the last mill, the one that washed away. William Roberson was succeeded as miller by his son, James who built the last mill about the year 1875. Gus Roberson inherited the last mill on the death of his father, James.

The Church family came to Pound from the Roaring Fork of Powell River where they had settled about 1810. They are descendants of Lord Hoag of England. The Hubbards', Standifers', Boggs, Pilkenton, Maxwell, Swindall, Hays and Bakers came from North Carolina. The Austin family also came from North Carolina.

It is said that these settlers at first subsisted for weeks on a diet of turkey, bread and bear meat. Then there came along corn pone, milk, butter, mush and hominy. Salt had to be hauled from Saltville.

In the early days lumbering became one of the chief industries. An old tram roadbed can still be seen reaching from The Pound to the gap near Glamorgan. Then, later, with the coming of good roads, Pound began to grow. People with progressive minds, long finding no outlet, began to progress with the coming of a new era. Perhaps one of the first to catch the spirit was Chant Kelly who for many years worked untiringly for the progress of the area.

Even as late as the middle twenties there was but one small, three-room school at the place. This burst its seams. An old church was used as a classroom. There came a new building. The high school grew from a one-teacher school to three. In 1928 the time had come when a first senior class was an actuality-a class of one, Miss Thelma Roberson, who had the distinction of being the one and only first graduate.

From then the school continued to grow until now the community is blessed with a modern high school plant and a student body of around 500 to enjoy it. On May 21, 1948, the Meade Mine, owned by the Clinchfield Coal Corporation, with A. R. Matthews as president, shipped its first load of coal over the C & O Railroad, this being the first to pass over the newly constructed C & O line, which had reached its long arm through Pine Mountain from the Kentucky side. And with this operation under way, Pound took on the real aspect of a boom.
The elevation of Pound is 1,550 feet.


Historical Information About Wise

The Story of Wise County (Virginia)
By Luther F. Addington

The Town of Wise

Wise, a residential and college town, and the county seat of Wise County, takes its name from Henry Alexander Wise, governor of Virginia from 1856-1860. Located on the western edge of a plateau in an area in which the terrain is predominantly sharp ridges and narrow valleys. Wise, at an elevation of 2,454 feet, has the highest altitude of any town in Wise County.

The area now comprising the town of Wise was known as "The Glades" or "Big Glades" when it was a part of Russell County. It took the name from the "glady" expanse of land which extended from the town up Glady Creek past the present high school. The act creating Wise County from Russell, Scott, and Lee counties on February 16, 1856, changed the name of the town to Gladeville. On May 4, 1856, the name was changed to Wise Court House; however, since there was a post office in West Virginia by the same name, thus causing confusion in the delivery of mail, the name was changed on May 16, 1893, to Wise. The town was first incorporated in December, 1874.

The first school in Wise, which was located on Nottingham Avenue, was an old log building with a dirt floor. The next school was located in the old log Primitive Baptist Church which was built in 1847. Following this, classes were held in the old Methodist Church and in a building on the corner adjacent to the Wise County Courthouse. A brick building located on Main Street later housed both the elementary school and the high school until the early 1950's. On August 25, 1953, the present high school, located on Birchfield Road on a 52.5 acre tract of land, was occupied for the first time. It was named for Dr. J. J. Kelly, Jr., superintendent of Wise County Schools from 1917-1963.

Dr. J. J. Kelly, Jr. began his service as superintendent on January 1, 1917. During his administration, schools and school attendance grew tremendously. Because of his successful work in the school system, the new high school at Wise was named J. J. Kelly High School, in his honor. Dr. Kelly was a graduate of Washington and Lee University and a graduate student at the University of Chicago. He served as a president of both the Virginia Education Association and Department of Superintendents.

Dr. Kelly's foresight in school matters was evidenced by a number of programs, first of the kind in the state, instituted with success in Wise County. In 1919, Wise County was the first to organize a summer high school program. In 1921, Wise County was one of the first to have a nine month school term. In the 1920's, Wise County was the first to employ high school principals on a twelve month basis, and was one of the first to place commercial courses in the regular high school curriculum. In 1936, Wise County was the first county to organize and offer a five-year high school course. Beginning in the early 1940's, Wise County was also the first to own and operate a county-wide vocational school, transporting students to and from the regular high school.

Education in the county has changed enormously since the days when students walked several miles to one-room schools. Students can now take advantage of a variety of programs designed to meet their needs and interests. J. J. Kelly High School strived to meet the changing needs of its students and those of the community it served.

All the information on this page is from:

The Story of Wise County (Virginia) written by Luther F. Addington.



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