Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mary Moore, The Captive of Abb's Valley

Last week, my friendly neighborhood librarian showed me this interesting story: Mary Moore: The Captive of Abb's Valley." Abb's Valley is not too far from here, in Tazwell County, Virginia. It was a jolt to me to read that Native American tribes were still a powerful force in the Blue Ridge Valley after the end of the American Revolution. Much of what I've been reading about Appalachia glosses over this, and attributes the mountaineers' affinity for violence to an Old World tradition of blood feud. I'm not convinced that Appalachian people have (or had) a greater affinity for violence than other groups, but if they do (or if they did), there's nothing like on-going guerilla warfare to keep such a trait alive. Mary Moore's children, who grew up on tales of her harrowing experiences, found the Civil War fought in their back yards, by their own children. This seems much more likely to explain a readiness to violence than the persistence of sixteenth century Border Reiver folkways.

There is a Pocahontas County connection in all this. One of Mary Moore's sons, Rev. Samuel Brown (1806-1889), came to Little Levels, and founded the "Academy," a school for which the community was named. "Academy" was changed to "Hillsboro" in the late nineteenth century. Pearl Buck's mother, Carie Stulting Sydenstricker, was disturbed by this change when she came home for a visit from China.


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Marymoore Patterson said...

I'm so interested to read your account of my ancestress! I'm one of the many Mary Moore's in my family named in memory of this tough and resourceful woman. It's given me a perspective on how much more complex and nuanced early American life was than the simplistic versions we're given now.