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Generation VI: Epaphroditus & Temperance Penley

Life and Times of Epp Penley in Scott County

The early settlers of Scott County were mainly Scot-Irish, though some, like the Penleys, were of English descent. They came from other parts of Virginia, from the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina, and a few directly from Ireland. Some of the thousands who traveled the old Wilderness Road on their way westward grew weary of the journey, and settled on land that would become Scott County territory. A string of log cabins lined the Wilderness Road from the Blockhouse to Cain Gap at Powell Mountain. Thousands just rested for a while before meandering on west. Some, like many of Epp Penley's descendants, lingered another hundred years or so, and remain there today.

Scott County was formed by an act of the Virginia legislature on November 24, 1814, from parts of Washington, Lee, and Russell Counties and was named for General Winfield Scott, a hero from the War of 1812. In 1856, a section was carved away as a part of Wise County. The first Scott County court was held in a dwelling at Big Moccasin Gap in 1815, and the first public free schools were opened in 1870.

The population still consists largely of descendants of the early settlers. Most of the people live on smooth land near streams and on the smoother ridge tops in the valley uplands. Few live in the steep and rugged mountain areas where much of the land is unsuitable for intensive use. Where nature contributes a rolling landscape between mountains, the soil is fertile.

"Five separate mountain ridges cut on a southwest diagonal through Scott County, Virginia: Powell's and Stone westernmost, out by the Kentucky border, Clinch Mountain farthest south and east, not far from the Tennessee border; and in between the Copper Creek and Moccasin ridges. Every big valley rolls and folds into itself, forming valleys within valleys, haunts and hollows that can't be seen from even the highest perch in the county, on top of Clinch Mountain, 3,200 feet up."

(Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone, by Mark Zwonitzer, Simon & Schuster, 2002, page 13)