Notes for LOVISA OTT: "The History Of the Pioneer Families of Conley and Sage"
By Glen Harrison Sage
"This is the life accounts of family members that contributed to the settlement and development of the New River and Clinch Valley Settlements of Southwest Virginia and their descendants that have continued to make America the great nation that it is today!"
The Sage Family Arrives In America
The earliest records that we have on James Sage "The Settler" was found in his old notebook made with a home tanned leather binding which is still owned by a descendant. James recorded that he was born near London England about 1749. He referred to Shepton Mallet, which is located in Summerset County of England as his "dwelling place". He also recorded in his notebook, "James Sage, Baker, for His Majesty, King George III". He made a notation about his departure from England, this note reads, "James Sage, Baker, from London 23 July, 1773. We have learned from other records that James sailed from Middlesex, where he was sentenced to transportation. He sailed on the Hanover Planter and the Captain was Master William McColloch. James must have been sent to the "New World" as a sentence for misconduct. This was a common practice for even minor infractions. This may also explain why James fought for the independence of the colonies against Great Britain.
James arrived in Philadelphia and came down the "Great Wagon Road" that stretches from eastern Pennsylvania through the Shenandoah Valley into the New River Valley. James settled in the New River Valley in the late 1770's on Cripple Creek near where it empties into the New River. It was there he met his wife-to-be, Lovis Ott the daughter of a German settler, Sylvester Ott (Utt) and they were married in Montgomery County (now Wythe County) on December 25th, 1780. James Sage was the administrator for the estate of Sylvester Ott and at the time of Sylvester's death, around 1803, Sylvester owned 60 acres of land on the New River, at the edge of Peak Creek in Wythe County but was living in Grayson County when he died.
James and Lovis continued to live on Cripple Creek, Montgomery County (now Wythe County) for few years after their marriage. It was rumored that prior to his coming to Virginia that he was with Gen. George Washington and that he was at Yorktown when Cornwallis surrendered. He served a number of enlistments in the Continental Army and most of these were for six months at a time. He was no doubt part of local militia call up for short local battles, mostly in NC. In his regular service he served under Capt. Robert Sawyer's company in 1779; 6 months in 1781 with Capt. James Montgomery; 6 months with Col. John Montgomery in 1782 and he also served in Col. Crockett's regiment in 1783. James Sage was listed in other publications as serving in the Colonial Army in the battles of Monmouth, Bunker Hill and Sullivan's Island. These engagements took place from 1775-1778, this would have meant that he served in the military from the time that he arrived in American until the end of the Revolution in 1783 and would have still been a private. I feel this is highly unlikely that he served over this span of time as a private when he had the ability to read and write. The first enlistment that we have records for was shown as 1779. Therefore the battles that he may have been involved in, under the commanders listed, would have been the Chickamauga Indian Villages around April 30, 1779. The Tory uprising on the Yadkin River of North Carolina in October 1780. Col. Joseph Cloyd raised 3 troops of horsemen (160 men) to ride south with him into North Carolina. James Sage raised "high bred" saddle horses and was a skilled horseman and a patriot. These troops would have had to ride south near James' house on the way to N.C. There is only a list of about 15 of these 160 men but I feel James Sage would have been one of those unlisted men.
"Backwater Men" also answered the call to assemble at Sycamore Shoals near Elizabethan Tennessee. This was for the purpose of confronting the British at Kings Mountain. A rider went from near modern day Christiansburg Virginia into the Elk Creek Valley, across Iron Mountain into Cripple Creek then to Marion, Seven-Mile-Ford and then into Bristol. He rode three horses into the ground as he called upon the "Minute Men of Virginia" to stop the advance of Gen. Cornwallis and Ferguson. These British commanders had sent word to the people of Virginia, warning them if they joined the fight, that the English would march into southwest Virginia and hang those that served with the militia and burn the homes and crops of the general population. The battle that followed was a great victory for American and gave new courage to the cause of freedom. Again the messenger gathering troops passed the home of James Sage and this brother-in-law, Fredrick Ott (Utt) on Cripple Creek. James Sage was listed as serving with Captain John Adams militia in his roster of March 12, 1783. Others listed on the roster include David Connelly (Conley) brother of James Conley Sr., David owned 400 acres of land on Walker Creek in an area known as Crab Orchard. Richard Chapman was among that militia company, he married Susannah Conley and this marriage took place in Montgomery County on May 5, 1790. Fredrick Ott (Utt) was listed on the roster of Fredrick Edwards company of militia on March 24, 1781. Details of the acts of bravery in the Battle of Kings Mountain are recorded in chapter one of this book.
On February 10, 1781, word was sent to Maj. Joseph Cloyd to gather troops to assist Gen. Nathaniel Green in North Caroline. A message went out through Montgomery County to assemble at the lead mines (Austinsville) south of Wytheville, on the New River. Answering this call was 350 men. This was at a time when the adult male population of Montgomery County (present Montgomery, Floyd, Patrick, Carroll, Grayson, Tazwell, Wythe, Pulaski, Giles, and all the counties of southwestern West Virginia) was less than 1800 men. Many of the men in this 1800 total population count, would have been too old, young or physically unable to serve in the militia. Therefore about every able-bodied man that was able to get the word and get to the lead mine was there. We have no list preserved, but I'm sure that the Sages, Otts and Conleys were well represented. This meeting place was only about 8 miles from the home of James Sage and less than 20 miles from the Conley clad. Details of this engagement are found in chapter one of this publication.
There was a number of other battles fought in North Caroline, through 1783 and James Sage was listed as being active in the militia through the ending of the Revolutionary War. Some of these battles were Whitsels Mill, Great Island, Cherokee Indian Campaign, Guilford Court House, Reedy Creek and the search for Tories.
Other writings have suggested that James Sage moved to Elk Creek in present day Grayson County in about 1791. I believed that he moved there over 7 years prior to that date. On November 14, 1784 James Sage signed a petition in Montgomery County to give himself and others title to land in present day Grayson County, that "many of these people had lived on for over 30 years". This land was part of a 10,000 acre grant owned by Peter Jefferson, Thomas and David Mealeweather, and Dr. Thomas Walker. Those holding the land grant had sold land to these people of Grayson County (the Montgomery County) but they had not given them a deed. This contest was settled by the people paying the government $4.22 per 100 acres to secure title to their land. Stephen Austin, the father of Stephen Austin II later the governor of the state of Texas also signed this petition. Another indication That the Sage family moved to Elk Creek prior to 1791 was the wording in a survey appointment; "On September 28, 1790 a survey was to be made from the Elk Creek road to where Sage's wagon overset on the Dry Branch near Spedwell."
In the period of 1740-1800 the state would tax the people by having them raise hemp for the making of rope and other related products. Most of the small land owners on the western frontier were busy raising enough crops to feed their families, building cabins and fending off Indian attacks and they had little time to produce hemp. Most of the larger plantation owners didn't have this problem. On May 24, 1782 James Sage signed a petition in Montgomery County, to be submitted to the Virginia Legislators, requesting that a different system of tax be approved for the frontier. This would allow people to pay with deerskin rather than hemp. James Sage was more a hunter than a farmer at this point in his life. Using deerskin for currency is where the term "buck" originated.
From the time that James Sage arrived in America until the end of the Revolution, every day was a struggle for survival on the frontier. The winters were cold and brutal, summer brought Indian raiding parties into the New River Valley. Threats from wild animals were very real (bear would kill hogs, bounty was paid on wolfs heads, rattlers and copperhead snakes were abundant). From 1777 until 1794 almost every family had close friends and relative to die or be captured by Indians. Some of these families experienced loss at the hands of the Indians more than once in their lifetime. In one year over 28 people in the New River settlement lost their life to Indian attacks. Many more were wounded or carried into captivity beyond the Ohio by the Shawnee. These Indian attacks were more frequent on the north and west areas of the New River Settlement. This may have influenced James Sage in his decision to move a little to the south across Iron Mountain. Just over the mountain to the south of Cripple Creek lay a very fertile valley that was well watered by Elk Creek. This valley lay nestled between Iron Mountain to the north, Point Lookout Mountain to the southeast, White Top and Mount Rogers to the west. These mountains to the west were over a mile high and had a climate much like Canada, due to their high elevation. The mountain ranges provided great hunting conditions and the valley was a wonderful farming district. The Cherokee used While Top as a major hunting area. There remains evidence of this, even today, around and in some caves on the top of this mountain.
A decision was made by James and Lovis Sage to move across Iron Mountain unto the banks of beautiful Elk Creek. This decision was made in the late 1780's. At this point all the settlement in the Elk Creek Valley had occurred by families moving up from North Caroline through the gaps in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Sage family was the first to come from the north across Iron Mountain. There was nothing but "bridle trials" across the mountain and James had accumulated enough house wares that a wagon was required for the move. James packed up the family and started up Dry Run Creek, he came to a waterfall that was over 6 feet high. James "scotched" the wheels, unloaded the wagon and then disassembled the wagon and carried it piece by piece over the waterfall and reassembled it on the top. He re-hitched the horses and became the first settler into the Elk Creek Valley from the Iron Mountain side. For many years this waterfall was know as "Sage Falls". There is also evidence that James Sage's wagon overturned on this trip across Iron Mountain. Mary Kegley in her book, "Early Adventurers on the Western Waters", noted a reference on a road survey as, "ending at the point of the Sage wagon upset". Following the move across Iron Mountain, new neighbors would join in to help construct a cabin. These cabin raisings could often be completed in as little as two days. People in Elk Creek were always glad to see new settlers because neighbors were "far and few". Additional settlers meant greater safety from both Indians and roving rogues. James Sage was later to suffer greatly from both elements.
In 1791 James Sage received title to the land that he was living on in Elk Creek. He purchased a superb stallion and began to raise horses as a money crop and for his own use. He also had a neighbor, that raised horses, Mr. Cornute (Cornett). In the summer of 1792 Mr. Cornett went to check on a number of horses that he was grazing in a nearby pasture field and he discovered that three of his horses were missing. He found tracks and other sign that would indicate that his horses had been stolen. He along with Michael Delp and James Sage begin to track these horse thieves and their trial led toward White Top Mountain. The trail divided but Sage and Cornett continue on the trail leading toward White Top. Near the summit in a saddle in the mountain, in an area known as Elk Garden, the horses were found grazing and hobbled. Perhaps the thieves knew that someone was hot on their trail, so they left the horses and ran for their lives. If you stole a man's horse, and was caught you would be hanged. The recovered horses were brought back home to Elk Creek.
After several weeks James and his older boys were clearing "new ground" for future planting. His wife Lovis was washing clothes in the creek and their five year old daughter, Caty was playing with a rag doll nearby. When Lovis began to look for the young girl, she was nowhere to be found. There was the small rag doll lying where Caty had been taken. It is thought that the horse thieves may have returned and kidnapped her. Indians may have been responsible for both the abduction and trading of Caty. A search was made by the neighbors, James Sage spent the better part of a year trying to locate his missing daughter. For years after the abduction, the family followed every lead to no avail. At one point James traveled to North Caroline to confer with a fortune teller named "Granny Moses". Granny told him that Caty was alive and well, but he would never know where she was or what happen to her. She added that late in life, Caty's mother would have news concerning her but would never see her again. She also said that Lovis, Caty's mother would outlive Caty. All of these predictions came to pass.
Caty (Catherine) was taken to the top of White Top Mountain by the horse thieves or Cherokee Indians and was later traded to the Wyandotte Indians. She was taken by way of trails along the New River into Ohio and was soon on the Great Lakes at Sandusky Ohio. She and her tribe were moved west to Kansas to a reservation in the 1830's. She was found by a brother in 1847. Her brother Charles was hauling supplies for the military on the "Old Santa Fe Trail". He went to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1847, to pick up supplies for the U.S. Army that was fighting in the Mexican War in Mexico. When they were about to leave, a Wyandotte Indian told them of an old white lady who had been with their tribe many years. Charles wrote a letter to his mother and brother with a description of the white lady living with the Indians. She had a "Ginger bread" colored birthmark and a scar that she received from a burn prior to her being kidnapped. Her oldest brother Samuel came and was able to identify her and had to talk with her through an interpreter, she had forgotten how to speak English. Letters were exchanged back and forth between Elk Creek and Kansas and Caty was planning a visit back to Elk Creek but she died of Pneumonia fever before she could make the trip. Caty's death took place on January 21, 1853. In letters written by her brother Samuel, she described her conversion to Christianity thirty years before and gave an account of many of the events of her life. Several books give additional details of her life, these are "March of the Sages," by Ball; " Red Trails and White", by Bonnie Ball, " Yourowquains, A Wyandot Indian Queen", by Bill Bland.
James Sage lived out the remainder of his life on Elk Creek where he and Lovis raised 14 children of their own and one grandson. In genealogical listings there are 15 children due to the grandson that was raised by James and Lovis (Martin Sage born in 1803) and there is no paternal listing of his natural parents. These children are as follows;
1. Samuel Sage - born August 5, 1781, Montgomery County Va: M. Charity_________? 2. John Sage -b Oct. 24, 1782. Montgomery County, Va: d. in infancy 3. James Sage Jr. - b June 17, 1782 d. April 21, 1869; M. Catherine Canny, Grayson County Va. 4. Mary (Polly) Sage - b. Dec. 4, 1785; M- John Hall, Oct. 30, 1804 in Grayson County Va. 5. Catherine (Caty) Sage - b. Jan. 5, 1787 Montgomery County Va.:d. Jan 21, 1853 in Wyandotte, Kansas, married three times to Indians 6. Lovis Sage II - b. March 1, 1788 Montgomery County Va.; M. Peter Rauhoff, May 1811 Grayson County Virginia 7. Margaret (Peggy) Sage - b. Feb. 1, 1790, Wythe County Va.; d. Oct. 15, 1870 (unmarried) 8. Sampson Sage - b. Feb. 11, 1792 Grayson County Va. D. March 25, 1872 Lee County Va.; m. Lydia Fletcher in 1816 Lee County Va. 9. Esther (Hester) Sage - b. Oct. 26, 1793 Grayson County Va.; m. John Cooper, Sept. 17, 1817 10. Anna (Ann) Sage - b. Oct. 26, 1795, Grayson County Va. ; m. James Nelson 11. Charles (Comer) Sage - b. July 11, 1797. Grayson County Va. M. Elizabeth Bryant 12. William Sage - b. May 11, 1800 Grayson County County. Va. D. Feb. 1, 1824 13. Ezekiel Sage - b. May 17, 1803 d. in infancy 14. Elizabeth (Betsy) Sage - b. April 12, 1805; m. Jacob Delp in 1836
James died on March 17, 1820 on Elk Creek. Lovis died on August 28, 1854 and they are both buried in the Sawyer Cemetery at Elk Creek. This cemetery is located on a hill looking down on the Elk Creek Dragway. A marker was placed on the grave of James Sage by the D.A.R. in 1936. On Labor Day of 1995, a marker was placed on Lovis' grave by 10 descendants. All the other graves in the Sage section appeared to be marked with fieldstones and no inscription. The infant children, that was lost by James and Lovis were buried on the Sage family farm and today are marked only with a fieldstone with no inscription.
My line extends from the eighth child of James and Lovis Sage and I will now continue to follow the progression of that line. This was Sampson Sage who was born on Feb. 11, 1792 and was married to Lydia Fletcher on Nov. 18, 1816 in Lee County Virginia. Lydia was born on Feb, 3, 1798 in Montgomery County (present day Giles County). Lydia was the daughter of Aaron Fletcher and Elizabeth (Milam) (Davis) Fletcher, who were married in Montgomery County in 1797.
Sampson's oldest brother Samuel made his way to Lee County Virginia in the early 1800's. Sampson may have moved at the same time or a little later than his brother. Samuel was later to serve in the War of 1812 as a private in George W. Camp's Company, 4th Regiment, Virginia Militia. He was discharged at Fort Norfolk in 1814. Sampson also served in the war of 1812.
Sampson Sage purchased a farm on the foothills of Powell Mountain, near Wallen's Creek, at Stickleyville, in Lee County Virginia. His land bordered Claiborne Young's farm and his Sampson's grandson married Mr. Young's granddaughter over 2 decades following Sampson's death.
Sampson's wife Lydia served as a midwife and traveled miles to perform her services. According to reports her normal charge was fifty cents. This usually included staying with the family for a few days and helping with house keeping and nursing the baby and mother.
For many years a legend persisted that Lydia had buried a lot of money in a small pottery jar. A number of People have searched for Granny Sage's lost treasure but it has never been discovered. Much of this money was buried during the Civil War. It was during this time was that the renegade band called "Witchers" killed and decapitated her oldest son, John Davis Sage. In chapter four, I will trace the family line through Sampson's third son William Winfield Sage.
More About LOVISA OTT: Ancestral File Number: 2B5R-2R.2284, 2285 Burial: Unknown, Buried in Saver Cemetery, Elk Creek, Virginia.
More About LOVISA OTT and JAMES SAGE: Marriage: December 25, 17802286
Children of LOVISA OTT and JAMES SAGE are:
+CHARLES COMER SAGE, b. July 11, 1797, Elk Creek, Grayson County, Va.2286, d. December 03, 1879, Miami County, Kansas.