I thought y'all might be interested in this history on one of our Alabama Bickley's from Virginia. it comes from the "Memorial Record of Alabama. A concise account of the state's political, military professional and Industrial progress, together with the personal memoirs of many of its people. In Two Volumes. Illustrated. Brant & Fuller, Madison Wis., 1893. Volume I. pp. 687-691"
While it only briefly mentions G.W.L.Bickley and the KGC it gives an excellent representation of the family that influenced him. I have more to write and hope that this one is not too lengthy but will post again if any find this interesting.
MAJOR E. L. BICKLEY, one of the prominent and well known business men of
Tuscumbia, Ala., proprietor and senior partner of the firm of Bickley & Raiford,
the largest hardware store in the city, was born in Clinch Valley, Scott county,
Va., June 30, 1843. He is a son of Chas. W. Bickley, who was born May 16, 1798,
at the old Bickley Mills homestead in Castles Woods, Russell county, VA. His
father, Charles Bickley, came from eastern Virginia, was the son of John who was
the son of William Bickley, who was the first of the Bickley family to settle in
America, at Williamsburg, Va., in 1670. He was a knight of the garter of
Northamptonshire, England. Charles Bickley the grandfather was a soldier in the
Revolutionary war, and his son Chas. Wesley, the father of the subject of this
sketch, though but a beardless boy of fourteen, volunteered his services for the
war of 1812.
After the wars were over he remained in Castles Woods with his father until
1823. He went to Scott county and bought what is yet known as the Bickley
homestead in Clinch Valley, promising $1,500 for about 500 acres of river bottom
land, made a cash payment of 4400 (about all he was worth) and had five years
time granted him in which to pay the deferred amount, his neighbors predicting
that he had simply lost or would have to forfeit his first payment, as it would
be impossible for him without any operative capital to meet his obligations.
He knew no such thing as failure, however, and went to work, built him an
humble cabin, felled the timber, and made a fair crop, the first year. On March
16, 1825, he married Miss Mary P. Burdine, who was born in Russell County, Va.,
February 16, 1809. She was the daughter of Rev. Ezekiel Burdine, and itinerant
Methodist preacher, who from the year 1809 to 1812 traveled a circuit, the
territory of which now, constitutes the whole of the Holston conference.
Charles Wesley, with his new made bride, returned to their new home on the
Clinch, March 20, 1825. Realizing their situation, surroundings and obligations,
they met the issues of life as a reality, and with their united efforts and
labors they were enabled to and did meet the obligations in the purchase of the
home, discounting the last note a year before it was due. They were the parents
of eleven children, nine of whom lived to maturity, and seven of whom are still
living, four sons and three daughters. Both were consistent members of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, south.
Politically the father was an uncompromising democrat of the Breckinridge
wing. After accumulating a competency for old age and seeing the children (all
living) self sustaining, the mother died of diphtheria, December 29, 1866, and
the father remaining at the old home with his son until May 17, 1880, when he
passed from earth to his reward. The eldest of their children, Chas. Washington,
was born July 3, 1827, and went west in 1852, was married to Miss Laura R.
McFarland of Jackson county Mo., November 1, 1857. They had born unto them the
following named children: Otelia, Charles D., Leroy Hopkins, Laura Emmagene,
Willie E., Katie L., Jennie, Oscar, Paralee, and Hettie.
At Pikes Peak and other points in the Rocky Mountains his health was impaired
and he came back to Alton, Ill., and from thence back to the Old Dominion; he is
still living near the home of his youth. Nancy Elizabeth, born May 28, 1829,
married to Col. James H. Godsey, an attorney at law of Prestonburg, Ky.,
September 6, 1853; they afterwards moved to Platte City, Mo., where they lived
until the opening of the Civil war. Col. Godsey raised and organized the Fourth
regiment, Missouri infantry, which he commanded under General Price and was
killed in the battle of Osage, Kan., in 1863.
Mrs. Godsey with her sons Willie and James returned to the old home, April,
1865, where she remained with her parents until May 18, 1868, when she married
John W. Banner, of Russell county, Va., and is still living at St. Paul. Her
oldest son, W. E. Godsey, of Spring Valley, Ala., is an employee of the B., S. &
T. R. R. company; his brother, James H., Jr., is engaged in stock raising in
Tazewell county, Va., and the younger brother, and only child of J. W. Banner,
is with his parents on the farm. The third child, Martha J., was born December
1, 1831. Was married to Rev. W. P. Queen of the Holston conference; they raised
two children, both girls. Mr. Queen was the representative of Scott County in
the senate of Virginia at the time of his death. Mrs. Queen with her youngest
daughter, Mattie, is still living at the Queen homestead, near Hagan Sulphur
Springs. The fourth child was Mary Ann Eliza, born September 20, 1834, and died
March 20, 1843. Emily Burdine and John Hopkins (twins) were born February 1,
1837. Emily died August 31, 1871. John H. was living at old Estillville (now
Gate City) in 1861, with Col. H. A. Morison; he volunteered and went out with
Capt. H. Clint Wood's company of infantry., Col. Samuel J. Fulkerson's
Thirty-seventh regiment, twelve months Virginia troops, Confederate States army,
was with Stonewall Jackson at Laurel Hill, Mt. Arry, Gettysburg,
Chancellorsville, after which he was transferred to cavalry, and commanded
company C, Thirty-fourth battalion Virginia cavalry until the close of the war.
Was married to Miss Rhoda Thompson, of Ryecove, Scott County, Va., January 10,
1867. They had born unto them the following named children, viz.: Anna Bell,
Mary Ellen, Charles W. Lee, William Elbert, Clarence, Myrtle and Grover
They still live at the old Bickley homestead on the Clinch, and the land that
his father bought, in 1823, for three dollars per acre is now worth fifty
dollars per acre. The captain established a post office in connection with a
lucrative mercantile business at the old home. Henry Powell was the seventh
child, and born February 10, 1840, died April 20, 1840. Elbert La Fayette was
the eighth. Margarette Minerva Ellen and Joseph Wellington were twins, born
February 21, 1846. Ellen was a gentle, loving Christian child, professed
religion and joined the Methodist church, south, when but a girl and lived a
consistent, cheerful member of the same; died in the triumphs of faith in the
Saviour she had so early learned to love, and had so faithfully served, which
was the greatest delight and joy of her short earthly life. She died May 24,
1870, leaving the saviour of her life, both precept and example, as a rich
legacy, to her bereaved and sorrowing brothers, sisters and a host of other
relatives and friends. Joseph W. being the youngest son, had some advantages
more than his elder brothers, his education was more liberal, finishing up at
Emory & Henry College.
He was married to Miss Mary E. Petty, late of Texas (at the time of Cuba), May
24, 1874, they subsequently made their home in Virginia at the old homestead
until about the year 1877, they removed to Alabama, where they now live at
Hunter, having with the aid of General Joseph Wheeler, M. C., established this
new post office, of which J. W. Bickley was the first postmaster appointed, and
has served the office as such ever since. He has also run a general supply store
in connection with a farm.
They have a family of six children: the eldest, Miss Leila E., is about grown;
second daughter, Miss Elberta, and Mary A.; George W. L., the first son was
named for his kinsman, Dr. George W. L. Bickley, late of Baltimore, Maryland.
Dr. G. W. L. Bickley, it will be remembered, was the originator and organizer of
the order of Knights of the Golden Circle, about the year 1848, with the purpose
of invading Mexico and making himself emperor of the same; he however failed to
carry his scheme of conquest; notwithstanding the organization had reached a
formidable point numerically, he was betrayed and his plans and purposes
exposed. He wrote a history of Tazewell county, Va., in 1852, where he was
living at that time, and was president of the Jeffersonville Historical society,
he also published a work on botany, besides writing a number of novels and other
miscellaneous matter of journalism.
The fourth and last daughter is Josephine, and the baby boy Seldon Preston
Hopkins, who is now six years old. The youngest daughter, eleventh and last
child of Charles W. and Mary P. Bickley, was Melissa Catharine, born April 18,
1848. She was married to the Rev. J. M. Massey, of the Holston conference,
November 5, 1868; they now live at Dungannan on the Clinch, Mr. Massey having
located, studied and gone into the practice of medicine.
They had only one child, a daughter, Ellena, who married John Hagan, son of the
Hon. Patrick Hagan, of southwest Virginia fame and notoriety as a lawyer and
capitalist. We now come back to the proper and central subject of this sketch,
viz., the early life training, education and personal character of Elbert
Lafayette, fourth son of Chas. Wesley and Mary P. Bickley. His early training in
the home of his parents so impressed him as to develop, and establish in his
character the principles of industry, economy, prudence and piety. Inheriting
the most potent features of his father's character, with strong convictions, and
indomitable energy of purpose, he as it were forged his way, and built character
from his boyhood.
School facilities were very poor, and the most schooling he got was by walking
about three miles to an old log schoolhouse, and this through snow and slush.
After having made a full hand on the farm through the crop season, which he
always did, leading the hands of the plantation from the age of twelve until he
was grown, in the fall of 1855, on a camp-meeting occasion in Castles Woods, he
joined the Methodist Episcopal church, south, and has lived an acceptable member
He was at Stony Point Academy at school the winter of 1861-2, and in the spring
he felt an impulse to go into the confederate army, and with the approval of his
parents left home in March, 1862, going out as special courier with Maj. Ben F.
Bradley, Humphrey Marshall's brigade—was in the first battle at Princeton; in
West Virginia; the following May was with Gen. John H. Morgan at Perryville and
Hickman, Ky.; in Bragg's campaign the following fall. He was kept in West
Virginia along the mountain passes most of the year 1863, having been
transferred to Col. V. A. Witcher's Fifty-fourth Virginia cavalry, and was with
Gen. Joseph Wheeler through Tennessee and Alabama. Thence back to Virginia under
Gen. Preston, serving as adjutant of the Thirty-fourth battalion, Virginia
An attack having been made on the garrison at Winfield, W. Va., Maj. McFarland
was run in and hemmed behind the blockhouse with half a dozen other men—cut off
from the command. Adjt. Bickley planned and led a charge upon the garrison in
the night, and succeeded in liberating Maj. McFarland, losing Lieut. J. L.
Williams and two or three other men. For this Maj. Bickley was presented with a
beautiful sword, which he yet has and prizes very highly.
After the surrender of the confederate State of America, Maj. Bickley returned
to the old home, spent the summer of 1865 in agricultural pursuits, and, not
being satisfied with his education, he resolved to go to school one more
session, which he did, at the rye cove academy during the winter of 1865-66.
Leaving school he spent two years with Col. H. A. Morison at Estillville (as
clerk in a dry goods store), and from thence with Dickenson & Alderson, in
Russell county, where he was given general control of their mercantile business,
until the year 1869, when he engaged in the stock business, and after going east
with and selling a drove of cattle in Loudon county, he returned to the
southwest and continued his journey, passing the old home with the purpose of
visiting his uncle, Joseph Bickley, at Indianapolis, Ind.
Stopped off at Tuscumbia, Ala., and visited a cousin, T. B. Bickley, of Spring
Valley. While there he met and was introduced to Miss Sue Jackson, daughter of
James and Sarah (Hodges) Jackson, whom he subsequently married February 14,
1871. Returning to Virginia with his bride they spent one summer and the
succeeding fall returned to Alabama, locating in what is now Spring Valley, in
Colbert County. Here he opened and established a mercantile business, which he
runs successfully in connection with agriculture; he also, through the
assistance of Maj. Joseph A. Sloss, member of congress, of his district,
established a post office, the first the community had ever had.
Remaining at Spring Valley until 1888, he then removed to Tuscumbia, where he
erected a handsome residence where he now lives. Mr. Bickley was raised to the
master's degree in Free Masonry by Catlett Lodge No. 34, at Estillville, Va., in
1866, and took the degrees as a Knight of Honor about the year 1875, and in 1889
was made a Knight of Pythias by Colbert lodge, No. 12, and of which he is now
the V. C. C. Mrs. Bickley, whilst delicately constituted, and almost an
incessant sufferer, has borne it all patiently, and has been truly a helpmate to
her husband temporally and spiritually. Her life has been a benediction to him
and we might say to all with whom she has come in contact.
With no children of their own they have adopted a niece, Miss Katie L.,
daughter of his elder brother, C. Washington Bickley, having taken her when but
a child of six or seven. She is much the same as if their own, educating her in
the Deshler Female Institute, Tuscumbia, and finishing in the Huntsville Female
College. She is the pride of the household and truly an affectionate, dutiful
child—the staff and comfort of her uncle and aunt—as they pass down the stream