Generations Past

There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors and no slave who has not had a king among his.  
----Helen Keller

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A History of the Varney's in Pike and Mingo Counties

and Elsewhere as told me by my father, Alex Varney, and from other authentic sources.)

by Nancy Jane Varney
September, 1936


The information I shall attempt to give in regard to the VARNEY family was given me by my father, the late Alex VARNEY, and is not of written record, but was handed down from generation to generation.

Some of the information, such as records of the families of my father's uncles and aunts has been given me by members of the families, and some by grand-children.

The first VARNEY of whom we have any history, was my great-great-grand-father, John VARNEY, who married Betsy HUN­TER and lived in Bedford County, Virginia.

To that union were born three sons and two daughters that we know of. The sons were: Alex, Andrew and Daniel-The daughters were: Mary and Nancy.

While the said John VARNEY was gathering salt-peter in a cave in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Bedford County, Virginia, a slide came and entombed his body, which was never recovered.

Alex, Andrew, Mary and Nancy migrated to this country and settled in what is now Pike County, Kentucky, and Mingo County, West Virginia.

I do not know whether the mother came to what is now West Virginia, with her four children, or came later. However she came, as we have always been informed that her body was buried at the mouth of Peach Creek, in Logan County, West Virginia.

Alex VARNEY, as I understand, the oldest son of John and Betsy Hunter, married Susie RUNYON and reared a family of seven sons and five daughters, namely, John, Henry, Frand, Andrew, Adron, Asa, Madison, Sally, Jennie, Celia, Matilda and Hulda Jane.

John married Annie ROMANS, settled about where the little town of Belfry now is, and later moved further up Pond Creek, as I understand, near where Stone, Kentucky now is.

The children of John and Annie VARNEY are as follows: W. A. (Anderson) VARNEY, married Jennie BLACKBURN, Henry married Lydia BLACKBURN, Flem married Sallie BLACKBURN, James married Ruth CANADA, Levi married Sarah Ann COLLINS, Adron married Lousia COLLINS, Floyd married Mary COLLINS, Lewis mar­ried Lucinda May, parents of Keenis VARNEY, of McAndrews, Kentucky, Vicy married Martin COLLINS, Celia married Moses CHAPMAN, Sally married Nathan COCHRAN, and Alex married Lousia PINSON, parents of the late Joe VARNEY, of Road Fork of Big Creek.  Lewis is the only surviving member.

Frank married Polly WILLIAMSON and settled on Brushy Creek; they reared a family of three sons and nine daughters­. The sons were: Mitchell, Lark and Henry. Mitchell married Susie SMITH, Lark, who was a Baptist preacher, married Delilah FRANCIS, the parents of Mrs. J. G. HARRISON, of Pikeville, Ken­tucky, and Henry first married Bell SESCO and his second or last wife was Lizzie WALTERS. The daughters were Annie, who mar­ried Jack CANADA; Nancy married Elisa FIELDS, Susie who mar­ried Lee SCALF, Lishie married John FRANCES, Luemma married Ran HARRISON, Mary married Green CANADA, Vicy married Avery STATON, Easter married Joe FIELDS and Jane married Lark LOWE, Sr. None of this family survive, Elder Lark VARNEY, being the last, died in June 1935.

Henry C., the third son of Alex VARNEY was born Sep­tember 15, 1817, and died April 16, 1896. He married Jane Yantas Mcneely settled on Rockhouse Fork of Pigeon Creek, and to them were born three sons and eight daughters.   The sons were Lewis, married to Elizabeth FARLEY, the parents of Sidney L., and Wallace VARNEY, of Williamson, T. B. VARNEY, of Matewan, Henry VARNEY of Chauncey, James and Dow VARNEY of Ragland, Mrs. Edna ESTEPP and Mrs. Jane FILLINGER of Rag­land, and Mrs. Ida STEELE of Logan. E. D. (Dow) married Roxie CHAFIN, Alex deceased either in child-hood or early manhood. The daughters were Tilda, married Lewis FARLEY, Emily married Add RUNYON, Sara Ann married Ned CHAFIN, Polly married Alex OOTEN, Hulda married Lewis CHAFIN (parents of the late John CHAFIN), Nancy married Nathan CHAFIN, Vicy married John P. JUSTICE and Celia died in childhood or early womanhood.

Lewis and L. D. are the only surviving members of this family; they reside at Ragland, West Virginia.

Andrew, the fourth son of Alex VARNEY, and who was my grandfather was born July 28, 1819, deceased May 27, 18$6. He was married to Nancy RUTHERFORD, March 1, 1838, settled and lived all his married life just below where Toler, Kentucky, now is. To that union were born twelve children; seven sons and five daughters. Reuben the oldest, died at the age of three years.

Alex, who was my father, was born July 12,1840, deceased March 19, 1919, was married to Pricy A. BEVINS, November 18, 1875. They lived on Road Fork of Pond Creek. To this union was born one daughter Nancy Jane, who has three children, Lucy Ellen, Wade and Pricy.

            Mary Ann, the third child of Andrew, born September 9, 1842, married Samuel G. FARLEY and lived on Buffalo Creek. She deceased August 18, 1916. To that union were born eight chil­dren-namely; Caroline, Rebecca, Andy, Vicy, Alex, Leauder, Thomas and Nancy Jane-Rebecca, Andy and Alex survive.

Lewis, the fourth child, born April 23, 1844-died March 14, 1906, and lived on Road Fork of Pond Creek. He married Samantha MAYNARD, to them were born ten children; Pricy, Bell, Ida, Fanny, Melvin, John B., Rebecca, Ella, Roland and Julius. After the death of his first wife Lewis married Mary RATCLIFF; to them were born two children-Clyde and Bertha.  Of all the children, Ella and Bertha survive.

Caroline, the fifth child, born February 5, 1846, (still liv­ing) married Alvin HATFIELD; reared four children-Elbert, Emma, Howard and John. She lives near east end of the Hatfield tunnel.

         Harrison, the sixth child, born May 27, 1848, died March 3, 1924, and lived on Road Fork of Pond Creek, married Pricy WEST; to them were born Mary, Martha, Matilda, Parlee, Mintie, John, Birdie and Nancy Jane-Martha, Matilda and Birdie deceased. After the death of the first wife, Harrison married Jane BALL, and after her death, he married Anjaline Weddington BALL, who survives.

Henry, the seventh child, born July 11, 1850, died March 31, 1919-lived at Lynn, West Virginia. Married Peggy Chris­tian FERRELL; reared three children; Tilden, Sink and Elsie; Sink deceased.

Sallie, the eighth child, born July 7, 1852, still living, mar­ried Ulysses HATFIELD. She lived on Big Blackberry Creek. To them were born six children; Wayne, Lydia, Fanny, Tilda, Bertha and Zettie.  The latter four survive.

John, the ninth child, born January 5, 1855, deceased February 21, 1926-lived near Toler, on Pond Creek and mar­ried Parlee WEST, and to them were born eight children-Alfred, Cora, Myrtie, Esta, Truman, Bessie, Marie, Tom and Marvin. Cora, Esta, Truman and Marvin survive.

Nicholas, the tenth child, born March 23, 1857, married Matilda WILLIAMSON and lives on the farm where he was born. They reared two children-Ira and Ida, a small son, Freddie and an infant daughter passed on.

Matilda, born March 24, 1859, lives in East Williamson­ married John T. OLIVER and reared the following children. Rosa, Delia, Texie, Sherman, Alphia, John, Willie, Homer and Walker; one son, Filmore, died in early childhood.

Nancy Jane, the youngest, born November 25, 1862, lives at Logan, West Virginia-married Alford BUSKIRK; to that union were born three children: Elsie, May and Richard A., who are all living.

After Andrew, whose family history I have just given, the next brother was Adron, commonly known as "Uncle Add." He was born in the year of 1821. He married Lucy WEBB and settled at the mouth of Sycamore Creek, later lived around the mouth of Pond Creek, about twenty-eight years after his mar­riage moved to what is now the town of Kermit, West Virginia, and two years later moved to the mouth of Jennies Creek, there he lived until the time of his death, in February, 1906.

His family consisted of two sons-Thomas and Samuel; the daughters were Sarah Ann, Francis, Nancy and Hulda. Thomas married Polly PARSLEY, settled near the town of Crum, West Virginia. Their family consisted of five sons and three daughters; the sons are S. M. VARNEY of Sciotaville, Ohio, A. J. VARNEY of Williamson, J. H. VARNEY of Delbarton, West Virginia, John B., and W. J. VARNEY, both of Crum, West Virginia.            The daughters are Francis FARLEY, Laura SAMMONS and Virginia SAMMONS all of Crum.

Samuel married Cloah PARSLEY and lived near Crum. Their sons are Tom and A. C. VARNEY of Crum, Alex VARNEY of Kermit, Nicholas VARNEY of Nolan and Don VARNEY of Chattaroy, West Virginia. .The girls are Lena, of Crum, Tennie of Kermit, Rebecca of East Williamson, Sara, Sallie, Mary and Polly-addresses unknown-also names of husbands unknown.

Sara Ann, oldest daughter of Adron VARNEY, married William ETTER, Francis married Sylvester MCCOY, Nancy mar­ried James HENSLEY and lived in Martin County, Kentucky. Hulda was never married.              She lived with her father and died in 1889.

Melvin, a son of Adron VARNEY, died 1863 while a pris­oner of war.  He was not married.

Asa, another brother of Adron, first married Vicy RUTHER­FORD and never settled at all. Their family consisted of two sons and two daughters -namely; Matt married Mary MAY and lived in Roane County, West Virginia; Millie married a GRIFFY, also of Roane County; Floyd married Jane TROUT and Polly Jane married Harvey MAY, the last two named resided on Pond Creek Mrs. MAY still survives and lives on Ball Fork of Pond Creek.  After the death of his first wife, Asa married Basha MUR­PHY and to them were born nine children-Will, Wade, Charlie, Asa, Laune, Columbia and Nancy are living; one son, Ira and two daughters are dead.

The youngest brother of Adron VARNEY, etc., was Madi­son, born in the year of 1830. He married Piata STATON and settled on Road Fork of Pond Creek, spent his life there and died at the old home place in January, 1908.

Madison's family consisted of one son and seven daugh­ters. The son was Asa H. VARNEY, born December 4, 1854; married Nancy WEST, and to them were born five sons and seven daughters. The surviving sons are K. L., A. M., W. P. T. and C. B. VARNEY; surviving daughters are Martha, Pauley and Agnes BLACKBURN of Road Fork, Kentucky, Alice LIGON of Appo­mattox, Virginia and Bertha WILSON of Stone, Kentucky. One son, Greene and three daughters-Laura Jane, Gertrude and Joyce died in infancy.

Asa H. VARNEY, was probably one of the most widely known of any of the VARNEYs.  He was a great educator; taught in the public schools for forty-seven years-a Christian gentleman, a teacher of morals and manners, was a great lecturer and always held out the very best of encouragement and advice for the up-building of the young people and the country at large. I can not say enough to do justice to the great man. I started to school to him, as a teacher, and if my memory serves me right, went to him seven school terms. He was like a father, sympathetic and kind, always trying to help in every way pos­sible.                                           He passed to his reward October 21, 1921.

            The daughters of Madison VARNEY were as follows: Nancy married Thomas JOHNSON, resided near Catlettsburg, Kentucky, deceased.  Pricey married Henry LOCKARD, deceased in May 1921.  Juda married J.M. Hensley, lived on Road Fork of Pond Creek; deceased January 12. 1932. Jane married Joshua WEST and resides at Canada, Ky. Arminda married J.B. (Bud) Smith, resides near Hardy, Kentucky.  Vicy married Johnson MCCOY and resides on Turkey Creek, Kentucky. Sally, another daughter of Madison and Piata VARNEY, died in childhood.

Sally, daughter of Alex VARNEY,.Sr., married John WHITE, moved to what is now Braxton County, West Virginia. I can not give much information in regard to her family, about all I know is that Arter WHITE was her oldest son and Mary was the name of her youngest daughter.

Jennie, another daughter of the said Alex VARNEY, mar­ried Calahan RUNYON and lived on Trace Fork of Pigeon Creek. Her sons are Alex, Albert and Green Runyon-all living; daughters-Sara married Rush FLOYD, Sr., and Vicy (last name un­known.) Both daughters deceased.

Celia, another VARNEY sister, married James WHITE, lived on Elk Fork of Pigeon Creek. Their sons were-Thomas White, deceased; Allen White, deceased; Henry White married Victoria MAYNARD, now deceased and Comfort WHITE, married Anjaline EVANS and resides on Elk Fork of Pigeon Creek.  Daughters; Susan married Jonathan ESTEPP, Lucindia married W. B. ESTEPP, Betty married Sam GILMAN, after his death she married John L. HICKS. Nancy married Lee HALL and is the only surviving daughter.

Matilda VARNEY married Thomas HUNT, lived only a few years after her marriage,  leaving two children-Alex and Nancy HUNT.

Hulda, the youngest of the Alex VARNEY family, married Andy HENSLEY and reared a family of six sons and one daughter. The sons were James M., married Juda VARNEY, deceased in October 1935, Compton married Polly BLACKBURN, Asa mar­ried Nancy STEELE, Andy married Nellie HUNT, Lewis married Missouri SMITH, Henry married Mariah, and the daughter, Jane was never married. Cumpton and Henry are the surviving members of this family.

The body of Alex VARNEY, Sr., was interred on Elk Fork of Pigeon Creek.

Andrew, second son of John VARNEY, married Sallie TAYLOR and reared, as I understand, seven children, namely, Sam, Alex Henderson, Alvis, James, Vicy and Matilda. I can not give a thorough history of the said Andrew VARNEY's family as they were reared and many still live, in the head of Pigeon Creek, and I am not very familiar with them as a whole, but shall proceed to tell what I do understand in regard to them.

Sam VARNEY was the father of Mrs. Sara MUSIC, also Mrs. Jane MURPHY, wife of Johnson MURPHY, Sr., and mother of N. V. MURPHY of Rawl, West Virginia.

Alex was a Christian preacher.

I know very little of the family of Henderson VARNEY, except that he was the grandfather of Hank VARNEY of Red Jacket.

Alvis married a Sansom; they were the parents of Mrs. Floyd Hatfield and the grand-parents of Richard Ferrell of Williamson.  James was the father of Andy VARNEY of VARNEY, West Virginia, and the grand-father of Riley VARNEY.

Vicy married Moses MAYNARD and resides on Johns Creek; she was the mother of Mrs. Matilda WILLIAMS and the grand­mother of Bob WILLIAMS, Mrs. Sally HATFIELD and Mrs. Zettie AKERS, all of Pikeville.

Matilda married Nathan CHAFIN; of their family four daughters are as follows: Vicy, wife of "Devil" Anse HATFIELD, whose son was the late Cap HATFIELD, Betty, wife of Elias HATFIELD, Sr., the mother of Greenway HATFIELD of Williamson and Dr. H. D. HATFIELD of Huntington, Mary wife of John Wallace WEBB, the mother of W. V. WEBB, of Williamson.

Mary, daughter of John VARNEY, married John TAYLOR­.  They were the parents of the following children-Peggie TAYLOR married Daniel Mccoy, whose son was Randall Mccoy, whose son was "Sheriff" Jim MCCOY, Jinnie TAYLOR married Elder John FERRELL, whose son was Anderson FERRELL and also a daughter, Martha HATFIELD, wife of Tolbert HATFIELD. William A. TAYLOR married Sallie MAYNARD, whose son was Alvis TAYLOR, the father of John TAYLOR of Stone, Kentucky.  Harriette TAYLOR married Alvis MAYNARD, Sr., whose children were Alvis, Jr., and Billy MAYNARD-Alvis, Jr., being the father of Pierce MAYNARD and Mrs. Belle PINSON, and Billy the father of Mrs. Jane BISHOP and Mrs. Ann SHUMATE.  John Taylor was never married.  Matilda TAYLOR married Sam FARLEY, whose son was Ali, whose sons are R. T. FARLEY and J. B. FARLEY. Azandra TAYLOR, married Rose­anne RATCLIFF, whose son was Calvin TAYLOR, whose daughter is Virgie MAYNARD.  Sallie TAYLOR married Ali SMITH, whose son was Henry SMITH, whose sons are Tom and Ken. Cyrus Taylor married Louisa SLATER-no children. He was killed by a man named GUNNOE, during the Civil War.

As I am in possession of more history of William A. TAYLOR'S family-I shall give it too. In addition to Alvis TAYLOR, before mentioned, there was another son, John TAYLOR married Jane PHILLIPS. The oldest daughter Margaret married Mitchell RUNYON.

Next was Lydia married Fount LOWE, Sr.-grand-parents of Mrs. Amos RUNYON of Belfry, Kentucky.

Vicy TAYLOR married Ransom HATFIELD, the parents of the late Mrs. Ester RUTHERFORD, whose son is W. T. RUTHERFORD of Hardy, Kentucky.

Pricy TAYLOR Married Jacob SMITH, the parents of Will M. SMITH.

Jennie TAYLOR married K. F. LESLIE, the parents of Mrs. Ollie Auxier MAYNARD of Pikeville.

Sarah Ann TAYLOR married Dallas BEVINS, whose son is Mont BEVINS of Heisey, Kentucky.

Harriette TAYLOR married Allen WILLIAMSON, whose son was Emsy B. WILLIAMSON of Fort Gay, West Virginia.

Parlee TAYLOR married Ben D. WILLIAMSON whose son was the late John B. WILLIAMSON.

Nancy another daughter of John VARNEY was the mother of the late Ambrose MORRIS, the grand-mother of John B. MORRIS of Road Fork of Big Creek.

Daniel, the youngest of John VARNEY'S family was reared by foster parents of great wealth. He remained and died in Virginia, and we have been informed that he was never married and he inherited a vast estate left him by his foster parents.

We have been informed, but do not know how authentic this information is, that there was another daughter of John and Betsy Hunter VARNEY, who married a STRATTON and remained in Virginia.