November 3, 2008

The Giant of the Mountains

Michelle gave me some information a few days ago about Jim's family tree.  I have been looking to see if I could find anything to add to it.  So far, I have found more information on the CHURCH branch of his tree than any of the other lines.

There appears to be at least one very interesting character in his ancestry.  I have found several Internet pages that mention Jim's G-G-G-G-Grandfather Gabriel Church.  Here are a few excerpts...

From An Economic and Social Survey of Wise County, Virginia By Ralph Emerson Kennedy
The first settler on Powells River was Gabriel Church, known as the Giant of the Mountains. He settled on Roaring Fork, and it is told how he would shoot a deer, tie its legs together and hunt all day with it swung around him.

I imagine Gabriel probably looked something like this  drawing of an anonymous Mountain Man:

Gabriel was said to be a fine poet and balladeer. At least one song that he wrote has been preserved.  A few verses of his song "Poor Goins" are listed in these books:

The full lyrics of "Poor Goins", as well as an audio recording of the song done by a couple of  Gabriel's great-nephews, can be found at the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum website.  NOTE: You will need the Real Player plugin to be able to listen to the song.


Michelle said...

That is great!! I am going to share this information with Teresa for Ryan. I think it is great to know about your heritage.

Michelle said...

Jim and his mother both enjoyed this story. Jim said he had an Uncle Frank that was a good story teller and musician. Maybe it runs in the generations.