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James Cannady Generation 9-narrative

The Canada Family of West VirginiaThe Legend of the James Cannaday Family

The family settled during the Colonial Era in the mountains of Virginia. Our James Cannaday came to Franklin County, settling on the Blue Ridge. Many direct descendents reside there today. The area James was born in is not known; however, it has been said that the family came from Buckingham County (one of the counties originating from the Original Shire-York). The family is of Scotch -Irish descent. No doubt they suffered persecution in Ireland at the hands of the English, and many fled into Holland, Germany, and the New World, arriving in Virginia, settling and building homes in the mountains-high and free from
any overlords. he Scots also were oppressed by the English. The grievances of the lrish against the English were many and long-standing. English aggression was the cause of constant rebellion down through the centuries, from the start of the English conquest in 1169 and even up to today. Confiscation of property and massacres drove the Irish from their homes, hence to seek their fortune in other lands and starting the migration. This branch of the Cannaday Family is believed to be descended from one of the brothers who came to America in the 1600s. The earliest history and record of our early ancestors is found in the county records of Franklin and Patrick Counties, Virginia. Personal family records were found. In the Akers Fami/y Record, Franklin County, the Cannaday family is one of the first families settling there. Material in this book was checked by this author from the following sources: Franklin County, Virginia, Registry and Pioneers and their Coats of Arms, by permission of the author, Sue Jefferson Shelor, Floyd,Virginia. James Cannaday (Kennedy) came to this country with his wife, Elizabeth Raikes, a relative of Sir Robert Raikes, an English founder of Sunday Schools. History tells us that Sir Robert Raikes, b.1735, d.1811,took his Bible and song book and went among those who herded cattle and sheep, and taught in the fields; then he came to America. The information I found concerning Robert Raikes is contained in the Family sheets, located in the Family Archives in the Genealogical Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. We still have no proof as to the relationship of Elizabeth Raikes Cannaday to Sir Robert Raikes. James Cannaday was a Revolutionary soldier. His war record will be found in the section James Cannaday Family. He and his wife
(she was only twelveyears of age when she married) settled on 'Runnett Bag Creek, ' in a house which still stands-opposite Trinity Methodist Church. Below is a picture of this old house as it appeared in June of 1982.

On the hilltop, to the left and rear of the house, is the old Cannaday Cemetery, where James and Elizabeth and their son, Pleasant, are buried. Their graves, however, are lost, as the stones are not legible due to moss and weathering. Pleasant, however, has a very nice stone, fairly new. There are other
graves of Cannadays and Sims, but the entire area is growing up with underbrush and will be lost if it is not cleared soon. Much of the family heritage will be lost. The house is two stories high with one large room with a fireplace downstairs. On the second floor, there were probably two rooms. The large room on the ground floor opens out onto a large porch. The huge fireplace with a mantle has a very interesting story, as follows:

There was a two-pronged fork wedged tightly above the mantle in the old chimney. Mrs. Cannaday placed it there in the late 1700s, so we hear. The story was that she put it there because, after forks were invented to use with knives, a man used a fork to mutilate and kill his wife; therefore, the legislature passed a law forbidding the use of forks. The fork stayed in the chimney until the late 1970s. The legend says that a curse would be placed on any person who removed it from the mantle and tried to leave with it. A boy went into the house, removed the fork and tried to leave, taking the fork. He got as far as the gate, but could go no further. He had to return to the house. So far as anyone knows, he put the fork back. It may be in the wall back of the mantle; it has never been found. It is said that this boy has since murdered several persons and is at the present serving time in the penitentiary-a life sentence.
Another folk story about the house is: It's haunted! One of the neighbors and a friend decided to stay overnight in the house to prove it was not haunted. The report is that they heard noises, like tubs rolling down steps with chains, getting louder and louder. Terrified, they left quickly, vowing never to go back.
So far as I know, they haven't.

Another incident that occurred at the house is worth mentioning. After the deaths of James and his son Pleasant, a disagreement arose between the two Elizabeth's. They were both living in the house. This led to a court case. The judge divided the house down the middle and ordered each woman to stay on her own side of the house. Eventually, the younger Elizabeth moved to West Virginia with her children, leaving her mother-in-law there.

Elizabeth Raikes Cannaday lived to be 105.

The old superstitions, sayings, and ghost stories were believed by many-the Pennsylvania Dutch settlers, fresh from Pennsylvania (probably Quakers), German people from the Black Woods and the River Rhine
with superstitions native to Germany. These blended stories are still native to Floyd County and may last as long as the credulity of man is a factor in their propagation. As one story goes, there was a doctor, an educated man of the old type, who owned a large farm and a number of slaves and had a wide country practice. He was the only doctor for miles around. For pleasure he farmed, for the life of a doctor under
those conditions was a very hard one-particularly in the winter. Frequently, he had to be in the saddle all night, facing the storms of snow and rain to help some sufferer who could only offer his thanks as pay. Most people were very poor. It was a custom of the well-to-do farmers 'before the war' to gather up the farm produce of tobacco, apples, potatoes, turkeys, chickens, butter and eggs and make a trip to market in the fall of the year, in a four or six horse wagon. Near Roanoke, one little boy accompanied his father on such a trip, riding his pony part of the time, sleeping in the wagon at night, and coming home the proud owner of a new pair of boots.

Thinking back on the old timers, and the records of the first settlers of our native home, l can see the mother and father seated before the old hickory-log fire glowing in the wide fireplace, recounting with their neighbors the old days and the War. The father's eyes would light up as he would reminisce about the Western Campaign-the days spent scouting and guarding along New River. And his first little fight, the skirmish at Pearisburg, Giles County, Virginia, coming by way of and through the present site of Bluefield, on to Princeton, the county seat of Mercer County, and hearing complaints that the Confederate soldiers were burning the rail fences for fuel for their campfires.

James Cannaday owned a large number of slaves, as did all of the people in that area. He had a vast estate along these creeks. It is said that many times when people were traveling along the road back of the house, they stopped and bedded down their slaves for the night in front of the house near the spring.
The queer name, Runnet Bag Creek, came from that of a spring in Smart View Park, spelled 'Rennet Bag,' on Blue Ridge Parkway signs labeling the creek. It starts as a small stream high in the mountains,
running along the roadside, winding down through gaps and valleys, receiving other small streams, rippling along the wild rugged mountainside to the base where it forms a good-sized creek. At one time its water grew corn that was ground at the old Cannaday Mill built over one hundred years ago by a Mr. Treadwell. This old mill was destroyed by fire several years ago. The creek joins Otter Creek in the midst of the John Treadwell Cannaday farm, still owned (in 1948) by his granddaughter, Mrs. Sallie Cannaday Ross. The last I heard, she was very ill in the hospital in Collinsville, Virginia (1984). The lake above the U.S. Flood Control Pilpot Dam, built in 1953, covers more than two hundred acres of this farm, which made it necessary to abandon the family home. These creeks wind their way to the Smith's River which forms the lake at the Fairystone State Park. Corn grew and still grows on those rich bottom lands at the top of the mountains in Floyd County; slaves would take their sacks and descend the mountain, carrying bags of corn. The chief occupation of the people was farming. The manners and customs of the people were halfway between the primitive backwoods settler and the educated and refined. They moved on across New River, lower down among the hills of Greenbrier, at Big and Linle Suel Mountains. On the hill they had a good position, but through faulty judgment and the curse of banle gave it up and marched down into the lower field nearer town, leveling the fences as they went. There, to their surprise, an overwhelming force of Unions soldiers drove them pell-mell back over the level fields with such momentum that it was impossible to stop and reform on the crest of the ridge. Once, they had an almost impregnable position. Now, the battle was lost and General Floyd almost heart broken against the Master spirit of the forces of Grant of the West, camp life, sickness and almost death, fever, etc....The hickory logs were burning, throwing a faint glow far back in the room, making deep shadows. One of the old timers began to tell the story of the 'Real War' and proceeded to tell of the Crossing of Washington's army over the Delaware River and of the intense cold-how, in these latter days, we do not have winters
so severe, snows so deep, nor ice so thick as in his day. He told of his march with the army into Princeton the next day, how they surprised those happy, beer-drinking Hessian-Germans, sent them helter-skelter to cover and gained a glowing victory. This so heartened Washington's Army that they were enabled to
withstand the intense cold and near-starvation in the winter in Valley Forge. :

It is told that James Cannaday of Runnett Bag would be introduced at these gatherings and would tell of his services along the southern border of Virginia and into North Carolina, chasing and being chased. Mostly being chased. "What we did for that fel!ow, Tarlton, confound him, was aplenty," continued James. They would all laugh and called him the "father of 'Patrick Billy' ", now famous for his twenty-four children. Captain Benjamin Weddle (also married into the Cannaday family) would come down from West Fork and tell of the battle of Point Pleasant. He took his company and ambushed the extreme northwestern end of the fort. He would re-enact that memorable battle of grapple and death with the savages, the winning of which according to Weddle finally broke the backbone of the Indian resistance to colonization along the Ohio River and farther in to the west!

He told how the Indians Were so enraged at him that they burned his home on New River Fleeing With his family, we went to Bent Mountain, Montgomery County, where it is believed that his descendants can still be found. Wouldn't it be wonderful if some of the memories of the lives and experiences of our forebears
could be recalled today. Our life, with all the modern trials and tribulations, would be nothing by comparison.

Listed as a private in American Rev. War and is listed in the 1966 D.A.R. Patriot Index on page 382.
His will was probated 9 Feb. 1817, executors were am William Cannaday and James Cannaday. Recorded in Will Book 2 , page 169, Rocky Mount, Franklin County, Virginia. 12 children only four mentioned in the will But he said " that he put them all on 'a' equal 'footing' except his youngest 'sun Pleasant' and he wanted him to have the land he lived on himself and two hundred dollars also 'William' Cannaday a certain tract of land and also John Cannaday the right to a cert in tract of land, and he said he wanted them to o 'sumthing' clever for a granddaughter of his also stating that he wanted William Cannaday and James Cannaday to be the executors to the estate. The will was witnessed by James Radford and Joshua Young.

Will proved in court 3 mar 1917. An inventory on 17 mar 1817 listed 6 slaves valued at $1,596.00, household good app. $148.83, farm equipment app. $45.00, 2 horse $125.00, 5 cows $50.00, 5 yearlings $7.50, 28 head hogs $28.75, 14 head sheep $28.00, 14 geese $3.50, one still $60.00, eight barrels corn $40.00. Total inventory app. $2,150.00.

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