Old Lewisburg Academy


Thanks to Elinor Tyree for this item.

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From: INTERNET:TexasET@aol.com
To: Robert & Mary Tyree, 71151,2020
Date: Sat, Jul 20, 1996, 23:56

RE: Old Lewisburg Academy

Transcription of a difficult to read copy of a newspaper article appearing in "The Greenbrier Independent" on May 31, 1883. (Yes, 1883.)


The exact time is not known when the Tyree family came from England to America and settled in Virginia. The date falls within the Colonial period though for William Tyree, the immigrant and the grandfather of the subjects of this sketch, was a private soldier in the Revolutionary War. His first permanent settlement was made at the close of the Revolution in Charles City County, Virginia, which gave the Tyree family an establishment on Continental soil coexistent with the birth and formation of the United States of America. He died shortly after in Virginia, leaving a family of four sons:

(1) Richard F. Tyree, the eldest of these, when quite a young man was sickly disposed, and spent several seasons as a guest at the Old Sweet Springs, in Monroe County, which resulted in the perfect restoration of his enfeebled health. These visits were made to the mineral springs of Monroe some time between the years 1790 and 1800. Having acquired a stout and vigorous manhood, he was married April 3rd, 1804 to Miss Sallie Johnston of Greenbrier, whose father, Capt. Wm. Johnston, owned and lived on the Kearnes farm near Lewisburg. After the marriage, which was celebrated in the Old Stone House, still standing on this farm, Mr. Tyree settled in Lewisburg and kept a hotel in the "Long Ordinary". At that day it was the only hotel in the place. This old building, removed since the Confederate War, was used as a hotel at least two-thirds of the interval between its occupation by Mr. Tyree in 1800 and the beginning of the War in 1861. It stood opposite the Bank of Lewisburg and took its name from its unusual length - 10 X 75 yards long and only two stories high!

(2) Francis, who lived and died in New Kent County, Virginia.

(3) John, who visited his brother, Richard, in Lewisburg. Returning to eastern Virginia, he also died in New Kent County.

And the name of the 4th son of William Tyree is unknown. He emigrated to Kentucky at an early day and has been lost sight of by his family connections.

Who do you suppose carried on the first boot and shoe shop in Lewisburg? It was Richard F. Tyree, and he was considered a first-class workman too. His shop and residence (from 1810 to 1814) were both in the Smythee house, which house had been abandoned ten years before by the county as its first Courthouse. His stay at the "Long Ordinary" had extended from from 1800 to 1802. - Buying a farm on the Old State Road near "Mountain Cove", he kept a hotel until he built and again removed (in 1827) to the well-known stone house at the foot of Big Sewell Mountain, on the James River and Kanawha Turnpike. Before leaving Lewisburg the Governor had commissioned him a Justice of the Peace, which office he contineued to hold in Greenbrier and Fayette counties until his death in 1834. Then Justices were not elected as now-a-days. They were appointed by the Executive, and the senior Justice became, according to law, the "high Sheriff" of his county. He was at liberty to sell the Sheriffalty to a second party, or parties, but was considered the principal in the eyes of the law, and held responsible for a proper discharge of its duties. Under this rule, Mr. Tyree became Sheriff of Greenbrier, and filled the office for two years - 1829-30. His nine children were all born in Lewisburg. - Mary Jane married Wm. Feamster of Muddy Creek. - John died in Nicholas County in 1879. Rebecca married Robert Dunlap of Nicholas, George died recenty at the residence of his son, Dr. Walter Tyree, in Columbia, Ind., Samuel is living at Birmingham Ala, Martha C. married the late Dr. Joel Wills of Fayette County, and Sallie married Fielding McClung of Nicholas.

COL. WILLIAM TYREE, born in the "Long Ordinary" in the year 1807, was five years old when he began his education with Dr. McElhenney. The Colonel has been twice married by Dr. McElhenny. His first wife (Rebecca) was a daughter of Joseph McClung of Greenbrier, she died 1841. By this marriage there were four children (three now living and one dead), - Mary S., the wife of Col. G. W. Imboden of Fayette, and Joseph M., and Dr. Woodson A. Tyree, who are both married and living in Fayette county. When Col. Tyree moved to his present home in 1838 it was called "Mountain Cove." The name originated with George Hunter, its first postmaster, from the "cove" or bend in Gauley mountain at that point. At different times the office has been removed, until it is now located four miles east, and the mining town of Ansted, from Prof. Ansted of England, has succeeded to what for many years was known as the old "stage stand" or halfway point to Charleston. The first and only road to the Kanawha Valley before 1774 was the old Indian trail that passed through "Mt. Cove," and crossed Gauley mountain at the "low gap" just above the present coal mines. Coming east the trail passed through Lewisburg and forked at Greenbrier Bridge. One branch, following up the "Indian" (Monroe) Trail, rounded the south point of Peters' mountain, and penetrated into Virginia by crossing New river at the "War ford." - The other ran up Anthony' creek and crossed toward Fort Young on Jackson's river. Mrs. Mary Ingles, of Virginia, was probably the first white person who traveled over this trail. She passed down the Kanawha Valley with the Indians in January, 1755, as a prisoner on her way to the Shawnee towns at the mouth of the Scioto river. The Old State Road from Lewisburg to the Ohio river also crossed New river at Bowyer's ferry (now Sewell Station), and was superseded in 1826 by the James River and Kanawha Turnpike. This "pike" in turn was supplanted by the Chesapeake and Ohio railway, (opened on New river in 1872), which has caused such a rapid development of Fayette - the wealth and population doubling in the last eleven years.

Col. Tyree was the first sheriff of Fayette county, and held the office from 1834 to 1846. He also represented his county in the Virginia Legislature in 1855-6. For several years previous to 1861 he was Colonel of the 142nd regiment, Va. Militia, and when the alarm of war was sounded he prepared for the clash of arms by raising a volunteer company in Fayette county. These volunteers, with Col. Tyree as their Captain, were placed as Company "C" in the 22nd regiment, Virginia Infantry. This was "the old 22nd" so dear to the people of this section, that helped to gain the battle of White Sulphur, and distinguished itself on many a hard fought field - equalling in valor, as expressed by the Colonel's war record, the flower of "Stonewall Jackson's men." Yet it didn't always whip in the neighborhood of home. Memory recalls it marching from Lewisburg to the fatal field at Droop Mountain, and vividly pictures the dead and wounded and prisoners left behind May 23rd, 1862, after the battle of Lewisburg. These were the battles that filled the soldiers' Cemetery on our western hill. Thyphoid fever forced Col. Tyree to relinquish his command in 1862, and Dr. Henry Dickinson succeeded to the Captaincy of Company "C." The Colonel, after a lapse of twenty years, still suffers from the effects of that illness. His two sons remained with the "22nd" until the close of the war. He owns a fine estate, and much care and many years of labor have been devoted to its cultivation and improvement. There lies buried on his farm the mother of Lieutenant-General T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson - "Lee's right arm in battle; so rapid in execution, so resolute in conduct, so pure in Christian character, that when he died May 10th, 1863, he had secured the devotion of his own troops and the respect of his enemies." This hero's mother was the wife of William Woodson, the first Clerk of Fayette County, when she died about the year 1832. Her grave is entirely neglected - not even a stone to mark the spot!

The Colonel's farm is also traditionally historic. In the field in front of his house is "Camp Rock," under which old "curly" John McClung and Capt. Matthew Arbuckle of Greenbrier, famous hunters of their day, rendezvoused season after season and killed bears and deer. This hunting was done before there were any settlements west of the Sewells and when game, especially the black bear, was very plentiful in the region that now includes the Sewells and Gauley mountain. These daring hunters were the first white persons to discover the two great natural curiosities of Fayette county - the "Hawk's Nest" and the Falls of Kanawha, Mrs. Ingles ought probably to be excepted, as she is likely to have seen the former when passing down the valley with her captors. - One day McClung and Arbuckle's dogs "treed" a bear on Gauley mountain, and one of the hunters cautiously approached to get a fair shot when one of his feet slipped over the edge of a fearful precipice before he noticed the danger. The bear and the dogs, in the hunter's excitement, were entirely forgotten. He returned to camp in double-quick time to break the news to his comrade. Examining the curiosity the next day they called it "Hawk's Nest cliff," the name being suggested by the fish-hawks that built in its fissures and crevices. In 1812 the new name of "Marshall's Pillar" was given it, "in honor of Chief Justice Marshall, who, as one of the State commissioners, stood upon the fearful brink and sounded its exact depth to the river margin, which is about 1,000 feet! From its verge the river, as a silvery thread between two borders of grass, appears to wash the base of the cliff, yet it requires a powerful arm to cast a stone into its waters." In ante-bellum days aristocratic people often amused themselves by throwing silver quarters and half dollars into the river. Success depended on casting the coin or stone downward at an angle of 80 degrees, and not in sailing it away horizontally. The second curiosity alluded to was the Falls of the Kanawha, where "the river is 500 yards wide, and has a fall of from 18 to 22 feet over a ledge of rocks extending entirely across the stream. These falls are not to be spoken of with Niagara or even with Shaufausen, but the scene, under the light of a full moon, is strikingly interesting. At the foot of the falls the river dashes and foams, and lifts its voice from the depths beneath to Him who holds the waters in the hollow of His hand. It has done so for ages past; it will do so for ages to come. There the dusky savage has stood but will never stand again, thinking he heard in those waters the voice of Deity, and gazed with wonder til the spirit of worship was stirred with him." When the hunting season ended Arbuckle and his friend would carry their pelts to these falls, build a canoe, and float down to the French trading post at Point Pleasant and exchange them for powder, lead, etc. Once upon a time as the story goes, they hired an old French woman at the Point to wash their clothes. She returned them clean in the morning and refused the money for her labor, saying she had been "well paid by the bear's oil obtained from the clothing."

Col. Tyree's present wife (Sarah C.) is a daughter of Andrew McClung of Greenbrier, and his only child by this alliance, Charles W. Tyree, is married and living in Fayette County. The Colonel is a member of the Methodist church. At the present writing he is suffering with cancer of the tongue, which is likely in time to prove fatal.

FRANCIS TYREE, was also born in the "Long Ordinary" in the year 1806. This date makes him the elder of the two Tyree pupils at the Academy. - He was well known to a great number of people, who remember with pleasure the warm receptions given them when guests at the "Old Stone House." His widow (Margaret) was a sister to Col. Wm. Tyree's first wife. Mrs. Tyree was an estimable lady, and her character is deserving of a longer tribute than the few words here alloted to it. - Though tender and kind toward the needy, she also exhibited a forethought and a wit and shredness rarely found. During the late war she remained at home with a few trusty slaves, trying to protect her property from the pillage of the armies of both sides. One who knew her well says "her acts of bravery and self-command, if given to history, would compare favorably with the sorest trials of our mothers in the earlier days of American history." Gen. Henry A. Wise was assigned to the department of the Kanawha in 1861, and stopped to breakfast with Mrs. Tyree when advancing with his "Legion" from Lewisburg to Charleston. At the table he boasted that "in three weeks he would ship the Yankees out of the Kanawha Valley and set his foot in Ohio." A few days afterward, when closely pursued by the Yankee army, and the ruins of Gauley bridge still smoking from the torch of his own soldiers and by his own order, the General again stopped to dine in hot haste with Mrs. Tyree. He could originate the axiom that "the office should seek the man and not the man the office," and could boast of victory when the enemy was far away, but when Mrs. Tyree expressed her disgust at the disparity between his former statement and present action, he sat speechless under the force of her crushing witticisms. Mrs. Tyree survived her husband eleven years, and died in 1879. Francis Tyree was the first County Surveyor of Fayette after its formation in 1831. Besides serving many years as a Justice of the Peace, he also represented Fayette county in the Legislature of 1842. Agriculture was his chief pursuit through life. Dying in 1868, aged 62 years, he was buried near the Old Stone House in which he had passed 41 years of peaceful, happy life, having for many years identified himself with the communion of the Presbyterian church. - His children were five - Wm. M. Tyree, present Sheriff of Fayette County, who owns his father's old homestead; John M. Tyree, deceased, late of Putnam county; Augustus, who was accidentally shot and killed in the Meadows by a Mr. Livesay during the war; Mrs. Dr. Aylor, of Putnam county; and Capt. Samuel Tyree, who raised in Fayette for the Confederacy an independent volunteer company. This company was attached to Derrick's Batallion, but was kept constantly on detached service during the whole war. - Capt. Tyree married a daughter of Wm. and Patsy Feamster of Muddy Creek, and is living on his farm near Lewisburg. "Raven's Eye" post-office, near the Francis Tyree house in Fayette, was named by Judge Nathaniel Harrison in honor of a beautiful black-eyed girl living at the time in that vicinity.


M. W. Z.
Lewisburg, May 28th, 1883.



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