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Generation VII: The 14 Children of Epp & Temperance Penley

Epp & Tempie's Children

Between 1804 and 1834, Epp and Tempy gave birth to FOURTEEN children in Scott County, but ONLY twelve survived to adulthood. There may have been other infant deaths before 1820, as there is a long gap between Nancy, born 1806, and Hiram, born 1816. That gap caused researchers to question if Jane and Nancy were Epp's sisters, but found documents prove both to be Epp's daughters. Possibly the usual Penley names of William and Joshua were given to children who did not survive.  The twelve children of Epp and Tempy who survived as adults were:   Jane Penley, Nancy Penley, Hiram Penley, Ira Penley, John Penley, Samuel J. Penley, Anna Penley, Alice Ally Penley, Thompson Martin Penley, Lovina Sarilda Penley, James Newton Penley, Thomas Eldridge Penley.

Penley Generation VII: 
Epp and Tempy's Fourteen Children

By the 1850 Census, the mountains were alive with Penleys. Epp and Tempy’s 12 children and 33 grandchildren were recorded. Epp and Tempy had 79 descendants by 1870. On the 1860 census, most of the Penley sons are listed as literate, though Hiram stated that illiteracy was a problem in settling Epp’s estate. Their daughters were listed as illiterate, but 16 of their grandchildren were enrolled in school during the previous year. 

Though many families splintered off to greener pastures in this era, ours remained close. Most of Epp and Tempy’s children remained in Scott County for over 100 years, clustered around Manville, Copper Creek and Clinch Mountain. Many descendants are nearby today. Daughter Nancy never married, lived at home and cared for her parents in later years. Also living at home were daughter Jane and two children, Angeline and Andrew. Two known children preceded Epp in death, Jane in 1858, and Ally Foster circa 1862. 

The 1850 census enumerator's path illustrates a tightly knit family. Epp and Tempy, both aged 61, lived in household #14 with Jane, Nancy, James, Thomas Eldridge, and grandchildren Andrew and Angeline. With a Hammond family between, the Samuel and Thompson Martin families were at #16 and #17. Daughter Sarilda and Thomas Shoemaker lived in #29. John Penley is listed as the owner of land at #38, but Ally’s husband Anthony Foster is listed as head of that household. Anna and Ruban Bellamy lived at #146. Hiram and Ira lived the furthest, but were close to each other in households #1081 and #1090. Ira's family eventually lived near Duncan Mill, about 12 miles from Manville by car, but rest assured our Penleys knew some shortcuts through the mountains.

The 1860 Census reveals the same closeness. Daughter Ally Foster’s family was at #1018, Hiram at #1019, Thompson Martin at #1020, Epp near the center at #1021, and Sam next door at #1022. James and Sarilda lived at #1036 and #1037, and John at #1150 with Ira a few miles away at #1200. Jane passed away in 1858, the Bellamys headed for Kentucky, and Thomas E. Penley moved by 1857 to raise a large family 50 miles away in Greene County, Tennessee.  In 1850, Epp, Hiram, John and sons-in-law Shoemaker and Bellamy owned land, by 1860 Epp was the only land owner. 

James Newton Penley was a circuit riding Methodist Minister. He preached in Scott and Lee Counties, Virginia and Estell and Wolfe Counties in Kentucky. James and Louisa's great grandchild,  Helen was the mother of Richard Scherer of Kansas, noted Penley genealogist, treasured mentor, and wood carver.

The sage of Penley genealogy, the late Jerry Allen Penley was a great-grandson of Epp down through Ira's line. Jerry had Epp's kids and their history engraved on his heart. He led many a stray Penley back to his or her roots via the internet or a trip to the backwoods. His brother Charles, a Vietnam and Iraq Army veteran, and dear wife Carrie were accomplices on his great adventures. Jerry has been sorely missed since his passing in 2006, but never more than when trying to piece together the history of Epp and Tempy's descendants. 

Jerry talked at length with the current owner of Epp Penley's property. The gentleman pointed out the previous location of the old cabin, and showed Epp and Tempy’s presumed graves. Jerry provided a tour of the Penley homesteads in Red Hill and Manville and would have given this research more specific facts. Regrettably, the scenery and lively conversation deterred notes, and we lost Jerry in 2006. It is hoped that Jerry's brother, Charles Penley, can tell me where we were that day. Jerry provided countless documents and hours of energetic debate on obscure points of Penley history of little interest to most mortals. Fortunately many of his files remain available at 

Five mountain ridges cut through Scott County, but moonshine did not rule the backwoods here to the legendary extent. Even today, few live near Epp’s rugged land by Copper and Moccasin Ridges, a few more near streams and on the uplands. Wherever nature contributes a gentle roll of land between ridges, the soil is fertile. Families grew their own food, kept a milk cow and chickens, and slaughtered pigs. A meandering drive today on Route 627 along Copper Creek hints that the legendary barrels of whiskey and tobacco casks could not be transported out in large quantities. 

Tobacco ruled many of the rolling hills in Scott County in the 1800s, but historians also see the importance of the bountiful chestnut trees as the economic spine of the backwoods. Tanners bought the bark, and lumber was used for cabins, fences, furniture and caskets. Most important to the farmer, every fall the backwoods were blanketed with millions of chestnuts. Families boiled and roasted chestnuts for food and raked wagonfuls for market. They notched and slashed the ears of livestock to identify their brands, and set them free in the woods to fatten on roots, vines, acorns and chestnuts. Dogs helped round up wild pigs in time for drovers to come through, purchasing from the locals as they passed. The hogs transported themselves to market and fed off the land as they went. Early settlers did not build pig pens; instead, they built fences around their crops and other livestock to keep the hogs out. The 1920s chestnut blight changed more than landscape; it altered the backwoods' economy and lifestyle forever. 

There were no slaveowners in the family, but the Civil War hurt everyone. Anna’s husband Reuban Bellamy moved the family to Kentucky to avoid a Confederate draft of their son Robert. The Bellamys were staunch opponents of slavery. Father and son eventually joined the Union Army in Tennessee Cavalry Regiments. Most of the Bellamys stayed 150 miles away in Estill County, Kentucky after the war. Ira's sons Robert and Thomas Penley fought for the Union Army with a Kentucky unit. Hiram’s son, William T. Penley, fought in the 64th Mounted Infantry of the Confederate Army. His daughter Nancy Clinton Penley married Charles Wagner. Their son was the infamous outlaw Kinnie Wagner. The Civil War allegiances of the other Penley children is not known.

Hiram and Sam went to court in 1869 to divide up Epp’s 155 acre estate. Much of what is known of this generation comes from that court date, furnished by the late Jerry Penley. Hiram and Sam’s depositions mentioned the upheaval of the Civil War (1861 -1865) and illiteracy as causes for delay of the legal division.

“being illiterate and not able to write themselves did not wish to incur the expense of employing a willing man to draw writings when they were all ready and-willing...and the war coming on and raging as it did throwing the country into confusion and scattering the parties and stopping & checking the courts as it did in the discharge... when the war closed they being scattered to and fro have failed to meet ... but for the war which began soon after the transaction and threw the country into confusion and prevented...the ordinary transaction of business...”

It seems property divisions began with Epp’s blessing before his death. Nancy kept her share at Epp's homestead. Sam purchased Jane and Thompson Martin's shares. Hiram purchased Thomas Eldridge, James Newton, and John's shares.

In the custom of the day, Epp and Tempy's sons and unmarried daughter received shares of the estate. The married daughters received no share of the estate, and their husbands spoke for them in court. Angeline spoke for herself because her mother and husband were dead. Single women had substantial legal powers, but yielded property rights when they married.

The court summoned oaths from Nancy and the brothers, as well as sisters Anna and Relda's husbands, Jane's surviving daughter Angeline Shoemaker, and a guardian who spoke for Ally Foster's surviving children. Jane's son Andrew was deceased. Such a complicated case would destroy many family reunions, but none of Epp's children contested the plea brought by Sam and Hiram, and the court ordered:

“The said Commissioners shall be directed to lay off to Hiram Penley with his own the shares of those of whom he has purchased, so that the same may adjoin and form one body and tract. Also that said Commissioners may be directed to lay off Samuel Penley's share with and adjoining the shares he has bought and paid for, so that it may adjoin and form one tract entire.”

New deeds were recorded for Hiram, Sam and Nancy Penley in 1869. Ira was not mentioned in the document available. At one time Epp owned two pieces of land. Ira may have cordoned off the other piece of land for himself in separate court action.

Penley Generation VII: Epp and Tempy's Kids

Hiram Penley (1816 - 1878) married Rachel Bays (1810 - 1880s)
Ira Penley (1817 - 1872) married Anna Bays (1819 - 1880s)

Our line of Penleys actually descends from two of Epp and Tempy’s children, Hiram, born 1816, and Ira, born 1817. Over a hundred years later, Ira’s great granddaughter, Stella Lowe would marry Hiram’s grandson, Rufus Penley. The Federal Census spelled our name Pendly in 1850, Penly and Penley in 1860. After that, it was exclusively spelled PENLEY on all official documents found, this consistency coincided with family literacy.

Three of Epp and Tempy’s sons married three of Charles and Susannah (Kilgore) Bays’ eight daughters. Ira Penley and Anna Bays were the first to marry in 1839, Hiram and Rachel married later the same year. Samuel married a younger daughter, Elizabeth Bays, around 1847. There were several related Bays families in Scott County at the time, but it appears that all three of the Penley brides were the daughters of Charles and Susannah. Like the early Penleys, the Bays descendants recycled the given names in succeeding generations and the lines are snarled. Bays Mountain was named for this family. The legendary Carter Family singers descended from the same line, A.P. Carter’s mother was Mollie Bays. 

Charles Bays ( 1785 - 1859) was the son of William (1760-1827) and Rachel (Barker) Bays. Rachel died sometime after the 1820 census. William Bays was the son of Peter Bays, whose first land warrant in the area was 1783. Peter’s will was recorded in 1801 Russell County, and in 1806 it was “Certified to the Register of the Land that John, William, James, Joel, Peter, Mary, Joseph & Susanna Bays are all the heirs of Peter Bays, decd”. 

The Charles Bays family lived near the Penleys, but the census did not number households until 1850. In 1823, Charles Bays was granted 156 acres on the north waters of Copper Creek. Sometime during the 1840s, Charles and Susannah moved on to Floyd County, Kentucky with the younger children. The only other Bays daughter known to have stayed in Scott County was Jane, she married William B. Flannary in 1834.

Charles’ wife, Susannah Kilgore’s family is also highly regarded in the area. Susannah Kilgore (1788-1850s) was the daughter of the Reverend Robert “Robin” and Jane Porter Green Kilgore. Robin Kilgore’s parents were Robert Kilgore Sr. and Winnie Clayton. Jane’s parents were Patrick Porter and Susannah Walker Porter, who arrived near Clinch around 1770. Jane’s first husband, James Green and Robert Kilgore Sr. were killed by Natives by the Pound River in 1782, and stuffed into the hollow of a chestnut tree. Widowed Jane soon married Reverend Robert “Robin” Kilgore Jr. was a well-known Primitive Baptist minister, preached at the Nickelsville church for over 40 years and married hundreds of Scott County couples. In 1786, Jane and Robin Kilgore built the Kilgore Fort House, still standing at Copper Creek near Nickelsville. They raised a large family there, including our Susannah, born at the Kilgore Fort on June 2, 1788. Robin and Jane Kilgore are buried at the Nickelsville Church.