Thursday, August 18, 2011

Eph of All

When it comes to family history, there are things we know and things we think we know. There are things we know we don't know and things we don't know that we don't know. There are things that are true and things that we wish were true and things that probably aren't true but sound good anyway, so we hang onto them. There are also things that, no matter how hard we try and how diligently we search, we will never know, and that's just the sad fact of the matter. At that point, I guess we just have to make things up.

Let me start out with something we know. Ephraim Hatfield is the ancestor of almost all of the Hatfields of the Tug River Valley, and of a good portion of everyone else who lives there as well. They don't call him "Eph of All" for nothing. It was the sons and, eventually, daughters of Ephraim Hatfield who originally settled Blackberry Creek sometime around 1816 (we'll get around to that later) and who raised large and, I suppose, troublesome families, some branches of which crossed the mighty Tug into Virginia (eventually to become West Virginia) and started their own troublesome families there.

We don't know (in the sense of having documents to prove it) a lot about Ephraim Hatfield. He may or may not have been the son of Joseph Hatfield, a Revolutionary War veteran who was apparently known as "the best Indian spy and woodsman on the Western frontier." He may have been married first to Mary "Polly" Smith or Mary "Polly" Goff, but no one is quite sure which (although some researchers seem to have created a combination wife - Mary "Polly" Goff Smith). I'm not sure, for my purposes, that it matters, since Ephraim and one or the other of these Mary's had two children that interest me - Joseph (born about 1785) and Valentine (born about 1789). They interest me because the two of them, along with their wives and children, were the first settlers on Blackberry Creek. We also know that Ephraim was part of the rescue party that tracked down Annie Musick and her children after they were captured by Indians in 1792 and that, several years later, Ephraim and Annie began to co-habitate (though they were not married until many years later, after they had followed their children to Blackberry Creek). Annie had several children of her own to raise after the death of her husband at the hands of those same Indians in 1792. They were Elexious, Abraham, Elijah, Samuel, and Phoebe. (Phoebe was also among that first group of settlers on Blackberry Creek - she and her husband, Ferrell Evans, came along with Joseph and Valentine. Ferrell, by the way, was the brother of Joseph Hatfield's wife Martha Evans.) Ephraim and Annie then had several children together - Mary and George and Margaret and Jeremiah, all of whom eventually moved to Blackberry Creek as well, thus making sure there would be plenty of prime Hatfield genes to fill the entire Tug Valley and more troublesome families than you could shake a hickory stick at.

We know, too, that Ephraim and Annie came to Blackberry Creek some time before 1830, were finally married (at the insistence, it seems, of their children), and lived the rest of their lives surrounded by their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Eph of All died around 1847 and Annie died in 1859. They were buried in what came to be known as the Anderson Hatfield Memorial Cemetery, just above the spot where, 30 years later, Ellison Hatfield would be killed by Tolbert, Pharmer and Bud McCoy and our little patch of otherwise unspectacular ground thrust out of obscurity and into something like myth.


  1. I would just add that I'm not terribly interested in anything that comes before Ephraim. Since I'm mostly interested in writing about Blackberry Creek itself and its relationship to the people who lived there, it makes little difference to me who Ephraims father was or what they did before they came to BC or where they were from originally, etc. It isn't the family in the strict genetic sense that I'm fascinated by, so much as how they transformed and were transformed by the Tug Valley once they showed up.

  2. I would not add that I disagree with what I said above and I am in fact interested in what came before, just not with the same level of intensity.