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Bill Pack Points His Wagon Toward Floyd County, Finds Love and Adventure

Now, along about this time, Flem's brother, William (Bill) Pack figured it was time to make a change for the future. He bought a small conestoga wagon, and covered it with sailcloth.....

(Note: Haven't come across any facts to back up this story.  I supposed he could have spent time in Floyd County and married an Amelia, but I have found no record of this.)

 Bill Pack Points His Wagon Toward Floyd County, Finds Love and Adventure

Now, along about this time, Flem's brother, William (Bill) Pack figured it was time to make a change for the future.  He bought a small conestoga wagon, and covered it with sailcloth.  He took with him a three legged iron pot, a dutch oven, and a goose down feather tick, rolled up tight in sailcloth, and tied with a hemp of rope.  He wasn't planning on sleeping on it, but rather saved it for a new wife if he could find one.  Women were like money then - hard to come by.

 He took large and small candles that he had made from mutton and beef talor, or sometimes bees wax, and a brand new torch.  This was made from iron and shaped like a wine goblet.  To make the torch, strips of cloth were dipped in the talor, and stuffed tightly inside.  This thing would burn for days and days.  These were stored in a large wood box which would later be used for firewood.  They didn't use much light anyway, so a candle or torch, and a back log of green wood in the fireplace would give a lot of light.  They simply went to bed when it got dark. 

 The torch would burn in wind outside, as well as inside.  If they would have to go out in the night and check the stock, to keep them from freezing to death, Virginia's could east wind couldn't blow out this kind of torch. 

 Inside the chest where wooden dishes whittled in oblong shapes, called trenchers, and tin cups and plates, wooden ladles, homemade...(can't read)

 You see, Bill was going north a ways "to take up land" as it was called, which simply meant it was free land if you cold settle there, and clear it up, and make it liveable.  Along with many dried goods and trinkets of necessity, he was ready to start his long trip across the mountain to Floyd County.

 Many were the dangers that were waiting to befall Bill Pack on his journey to Floyd County. Every now and again, he thought he was being followed.  Bill was a kind man, but a little short on patience, so late one evening he said to his old white mule, "Brigadeer, (for that was his name) you and me are going to try some new strategy."  He took Brigadder and both horses and tied them around behind the wagon for the night. 

 Bill had caught two rabbits.  He skinned them and made himself a fire of pinecones, and put them on a roasting stake.  Bill Wasn't fond of rabbit.  Fish was his love, and he had spotted a creek nearly as big as a river when they had stopped on the knoll to park the wagon and make camp for the night.  So he said, "Come on, Ned" to his dog, "Now you be real still, Ned, and you and me might catch us a fish and might see something besides."

 I don't know what breed Ned was, but he was as big as and looked like a wolf...and every bit as quiet as one, too!  This dog wouldn't make a sound if Bill didn't tell him to, so Bill warned him to be quiet.  Bill and Ned went walking downstream, pole in hand.  When he thought he had gone far enough, they crossed the river on a fallen tree with a minimum of wading.  Quietly they came back upstream, and he had Ned hid in the willow bushes, and dropped his hook, and waited.

 By and by the horses became a little spooked, so Bill concentrated on watching the camp.  From out of nowhere came a tall, bronze, young male indian, then two, then three, then four.

 "Whee!" Sighed Bill, glad that was all of them.  "Wonder what they are up to?" He worried.  Presently, the tall bronze one, who seemed to be the leader and wore a bare claw necklace, turned to the others and held up one finger.  He said something in a language that was definitely not Cherokee, for Bill could ususally make out Cherokee.  So did the rest.  They then divided the rabbits among themselves, and sat down and ate with what seemed to Bill to be unusally good manners.  When they had finished they wiped their hands on their buckskin britches (Can't read) left it, and smelled it, said something to the others, and laid it back down.  Bill could have laughed, except the sharp steel knives (traded from the white men) that hung on all of their hips and the black flint arrows in their quivers told him he'd better keep quiet until laughing was safe. 

 They jabbered something else, then the one with the bear claw necklace jumped up and crept to the wagon, leaned in and sniffed for all the world like a dog.  Bill said, "I reckon I know what he's hunting for, Ned."  Old Ned had his ears laid back and his mouth open, like he wanted to attak them at any moment, for he didn't take kindly to anybody rummaging through his master's belongings.

 The indian sniffed again, and followed his nose to the white sailcloth bag hanging on one of the hoops.  He gingerly opened it, and then said something that couldn't have been anything but, "Ureka!" All smiles, he brought his prize back to the fire.  He reached in and brought out a mickey twist of homemade tobacco.  He then produced a pipe very similar to a peach pipe, broke off a piece and crumbled it in the pipe, got himself a twig, lit it, and sat drawing long white puffs of smoke.

 He stopped and handed it to the next one, and the smoked and handed it to the next. "Funny" thought Bill, "They only drew three puffs apiece.  Wonder what that's got to do with anything?"  They all enjoyed it, then put the bag back on the hoop after they had helped themselves to a twist.  Bill didn't mind this, 'cause he didn't smoke much anyway. He just kept the tobacco for cuts and bruises and such.

 Bill watched as the young braves climbed silently up the ridge where just at that mement he realized there were standing four painted poinies like none he'd ever seen.  He'd never known a horse - usually clumsy critters - that wouldn't make any sound, but these didn't make the slightest noise.  "Well, I'll be danged, wonder what else them fools know that we don't, Ned?"  Bill said.  The dog looked at him as if to say, "Plenty."

 Bill had a large fish on his homemade hook by now, so he pulled it in.  "Guess it's a good thing we did fish, Ned.  We'd sure be out of supper if we hadn't." He said.  They walked back down and across the river.  Now on the pole where the rabbits had been was a shiny hunting knife, all tied up with soft leather of a kind Bill did not recognize.  Bill took it loose, measured it to his own and - deciding the new one was much the best - took his old one off his belt and hung the new one on.  He kept this knife for many years, and it saved his life more than once.  But he never knew who they were or from whence they came, these gentle, funloving bronzed giants. 

By the time Bill got to Floyd County, he'd begun to wonder if it had all been worth it.  Through Floyd County was a beautiful place, it was also unsettled.  Handsome Bill picked himself a place in a flat valley, and rode for days to a trading post to have it recorded.  The man at the recording station said they hadn't any call for land in that valley, and allowed he reckoned Bill was the only one settled there, as far as he knew. Everyone who had gone tere so far had had trouble with grizzlies.

When he returned to his land, he had bought himself a cow and some chickens, and some country ham as a celebration treat, too!  After making camp in a reasonably cleared grove near a sparkling spring, he put his country ham on to fry and a flap jack or two, and sat down and leaned back against the trunk of a big old walnut tree.  His reason for sitting down to rest was that he was just plain worn out from the long journey to the settlement, and from cutting logs, too.  So he began to plan just where he would have his cabin.  It had to be near the spring, so he could keep his milk and butter cold.  By and by he became sleepy, and dozed off, and slept for some few minutes.

He awoke with a start at the sound of a keen crack of lightning, followed by thunder so loud it was deafening, just in time to see a large brown bear jump out of the wagon and disappear into the woods with the last of the uncooked country ham.  "Well, I'll be danged, Ned, I guess that's one ham we won't eat" Bill said.  "We'll just have to stick to fish.  The stream's just a quarter mile."

By this time the rain had started to come down in torrents.  He hurriedly grabbed the skillet and made for the wagon.  He sure was glad to set it down, but not before it had burned a blister.  Old Ned jumped in the wagon on the other end.  He then divided his supper with his dog, and as they ate Bill said the durned dog oughtn't to get any, since he was sorry enough to leat a bear carry off a whole week's worth of supper.  Ned didn't care, for he knew which side his bear was buttered on.

It kept raining, so hard that Bill felt sure he'd never go to sleep.  But sleep he did, to awake to a brand new morning.  The birds were singing, and early spring flowers were just beginning to bloom.  The sky had a way of being so clear and blue, without a cloud anywhere except for a few puffs rising on the crest of a mountain facing west.  Bill allowed he wasn't going to worry about them, because every durned thing that could happen had already happened anyway.  So he worked hard, day after day, cutting all the small logs that he could by himself, and leaving all the large trees for shelter breaks.  He always left some time each day to gather nuts, wild plums, and apples which he dried for winter.  He also had racked up giant piles of wood logs to fit the fireplace he had just started to build.  One warm afternoon Bill was standing in the front door of the cabin, admiring his handiwork; a beautiful fireplace, a large two-room log cabin complete with heavy shutters, homemade table and chairs, and bunk beds.  He looked southward towards the settlement, and discovered more then one tree was beginning to turn orange. 

"Great creeps almighty, Ned, it's turning fall already," Bill said.  "You and me has got to make some cages for those chickens, and we've got to sell them." The two dozen he had bought had multiplied to about 50 young fryers.  So Bill made cages for all of them, waited until dark, entered the homemade henhouse, caught the chickens, and put then in the cages.  Next morning he loaded his old pack mule with herbs, roots, and a bundle of skins, and set out for the settlement with his wagon full of chickens.  He had to sell most of the animals so he wouldn't have to feed them. He took his cow down the road a few miles and asked his neighbor to milk her for him until he got back.  The man was more than happy to do so.

When he had been at the trading post a day or two, he met a young lady.  She wasn't beautiful, but she had a nice turn.  He began to talk to her, and courted her for more than a week.  Then he told her just what he had and what to expect, and asked her to be his bride and go back to his valley.  Amelia was her name - we have no account of what he last name was.  Far into the winter, Bill taught Amelia to shoot the only long rifle they had.  One day he told Amy, as he now called her, that he was of a mind to string those bows he had fashioned the summer before.  Amy allowed she guessed it would be a good idea. 

Every time there was a clear day and no snow, Bill would look for the black flint to make into arrowheads.  He told Amy those arrows the Indians had must have come from a long way off, for there was no trace of the flint around here.  This didn't stop Bill.  He made bowstrings out of stout deer hide leather, and when he finished, all three bows were a work of art.  Amy thought they might take one the next fall and trade it at the post.  Bill said yes, but what int he world would he use for arrow tips?  He had already gotten more then two dozen straight arrows made, and the snow had started to fall.  He knew they would be snowed in for some time to come.  Amy walked up and offered him a tin plate and their extra cup.  He sat looking at them a while, then using a couple of flat rocks, a sand rock, and the fireplace, he fashioned razorsharp arrohead tips.  Very proud of what he had done, he pulled his knife and sat scraping one of the arrows with it.

Amy jumped up, "Where did you get that?" she asked excitedly.  "This knife, you mean?"  Bill asked.  "Yes, and that sheath, too," she said.  "Oh, you see, it was like this..." and Bill told her of the events leading up to his having the knife.  "Why did  you ask?"

"Well," said Amy, "When I was at the settlement, I saw four Indians who said they were from west of the big river in the land of the rising sun. They said the leather was made from buffalo hide, the handle from bone, and the blade came half way across the world from a place called San Francisco, CA" 

"Well," said Bill, "No wonder I didn't know what it was. Those Indians were friendly at the time."

"Yes, at that time," She said, "but four or five days later, a hunter came in for supplies who said he had run across four Indians attacking a lone wagon.  He shot at them, one dropped his knife, and the man picked it up, and he still had it. He said he'd like to trade it so I bought it from him for enough calico to make a dress," Amy said, "He liked that - said he'd make it a gift to his wife.  I think, as a matter of fact, that I still have it," said Amy. She rummaged in her big old leather travel trunk and came up with it.  They compared knives and they were the same.  Amy said to Bill, I guess you were lucky. They were scalp hunters too!"

*Georgia Maude Quesenberry Maxfield, an 80 year old Tazewell resident (deceased), wrote recollections of early Tazewell County life as told to her by her great-grandmother and her grandmother. Her Recollections appeared in the Tazewell Newspaper sometime in the early 1980's. Georgia was the daughter of George & Mary Frances Burress Quesenberry.


Linked toWilliam M. "Bill" Pack

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