History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.  This article was published in the LaFollette Press.


     Gerald Lay, longtime resident of Elk Valley, along with Don Lay, a cousin, artist and portrait painter, wrote a fine article, "He Kept the Faith," which was enclosed in the Lay Family Genealogical Association (LFGA). The article contains a splendid composition of the life of William L. Lay, 1809-1907. At this time, we shall take from these writings the happenings of the Civil War (1861-65) in Elk Valley, text being transcribed exactly as these two gentlemen wrote it.

     At first, Tennesseans favored remaining in the Union although they recognized the right to secede. Then in June 1861, Tennessee citizens voted on the issue of secession: 104,903 for secession and 47,238 against secession. Campbell County clearly favored the Union. They voted 1,059 against and 59 for secession. About 100,000 Tennesseans fought for the South and 30,000 fought for the North.

     Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union. Tennesseans were both divided and defiant; and this was part of the great tragedy of the Civil War, with brother fighting brother and neighbor fighting neighbor. There were over 400 Civil War engagements fought in Tennessee. The first was the Battle of Shiloh, which was also the bloodiest. More blood was shed in Tennessee than in any other state except Virginia.

     When the war started, Jefferson Davis immediately established a military stronghold in Knoxville, approximately forty miles from Elk Valley. There was a lot of pilfering and plundering in this area of East Tennessee, perhaps because the people were so divided and defiant.


     As an act of defiance, the Scott County Court of Common Pleas and Quarterly Sessions voted to secede from the State of Tennessee and to create the independent state of Scott. They organized the "Home Guard." This did little but annoy the Confederates and create difficulty between the locals and the Confederate soldiers.

     Confederate Soldiers plundered, stole, and confiscated in Elk Valley. They even robbed the bees for honey. During these forays, the men who had not joined the Confederate Army would hide. The Confederates on Buffalo Creek captured a relative of William L. Lay, Lewis M. Baird, with two companions, Lark Cross and a Mr. Vanover. His two companions were "hanged on the spot in an apple tree." Lewis was spared because of his age and fact that he was the head of a family of importance in the area. He was taken as a prisoner of war to the infamous prisoner of war camp in Salisbury, North Carolina. He later was offered his freedom if he would take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. He refused to do so and died in Salisbury prison in 1864. He was buried in a common grave with 11,000 other union supporters.

     Louis Grant tells of one foray when soldiers came to the Grant farm, adjacent to the William L. Lay farm, and attempted to take the Grant's horse. The men were in hiding, and Grandma (Helen, daughter of William L. Lay) Grant took a butcher knife and stood with her back to the barn door and dared them to try taking the horse. She saved the horse.

     William L. Lay, like most East Tennesseans, was a Republican and a Unionist. His son, William P. Lay, served in the Second Tennessee Voluntary Regiment. Another son, Lewis, belonged to the First Tennessee Voluntary Infantry that was mostly made up of men from Campbell County. They were organized and drilled just inside the Kentucky line near Lot.

     On November 8, 1863, William L. Lay, Justice of the Peace, Campbell Co., Tennessee, performed the marriage of Pryor Lay and Rebecca Stanfill. Then, on September 2, 1864, he married Andrew Baird and Louisa Hix as a Minister of the Gospel, or "MG", as it is recorded in the marriage book.

     In 1865, he sold property to a son, Lewis Lay. Records show that William L. Lay served as juror. Once he served on the Circuit Court Jury when a Confederate sympathizer was indicted for treason in September 1865. The indictment accused the man of "Knowingly, wittingly, unlawfully, maliciously, and traitorously did enlist in the army of the so called Confederates States of America and did procure and persuade ______ to enlist in the army of the so called Confederate States of America and did procure and persuade fifty men whose names to the jurors aforesaid are unknown to enlist in the army of the so called Confederate States of America and furnish one hundred meals and diets to be used in ordaining, preparing, and levying the said war so traitorously commenced, prepared and levied as aforesaid, and thereby to enable him, the said _____ and the said Isham G. Harris, etc." This kind of indictment was typical after the war, when the Union Army occupied Tennessee.

     During the period April 3 to June 12, 1865, the first session of the Tennessee Legislature passed the Franchise Act, disenfranchising all former Confederate officers and soldiers, and all that had aided the Confederacy in any way. It also provided a reward of $5,000 for the capture of Isham Harris, former governor of Tennessee.

(The Lay family wishes to invite you to join in researching the interesting Lay, Ley, Lea, Leigh, Laye, Leh, etc. Families. All research sent in to be shared with the members, will be put into a database, and analyzed. A LFGA line number will be assigned, for ease of identifying other members who are researching your line. We hope to eventually merge some of our 70 or so lines, by identifying and documenting a common ancestor. The lines are published in our quarterly newsletter, "Lay of the Land" and on our web site. "http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Acres/8896/index.html" For more information Gerald Lay can be reached at his home IN ELK VALLEY

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