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The Moccasin Rangers of Calhoun County West Virginia


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"These are the times that try men's souls". Those words, penned at the time of the American Revolution, mirrored the mood of Virginians in 1861. Their state had joined the Confederacy and seceded from the Union that their ancestors had fought to create. Northwestern Virginia was seceding from Virginia to create a new state, loyal to the Union. People in central Virginia were fighting a "war within the war" with tensions mounting as men joined either the Union or Confederate armies. Calhoun County, part of the new state of West Virginia, was in the center of divided loyalties. 

Confederate sympathizers in Calhoun and surrounding counties were forming local companies of "partisan rangers" to fight the "northern enemy" without official recognition from Virginia. Protecting one's home and community without being part of an organized military unit was not new to these people. The frontier had long been guarded by local militia, and many of their ancestors had served as rangers defending their frontier properties during and after the Revolutionary War. The charter of a local ranger company reflects the attitude, purpose and mission of these groups stating they were an "independent Guerrilla Volunteer Company, to serve for a period of three months in defense of the State, and of our families, friends and personal property against Northern troops or any body of citizens raised for illegal or improper purposes". These charters granted them permission to administer 'frontier justice'.

Although West Virginia was not the scene of major Civil War battles, these self-appointed rangers. using guerilla warfare tactics, terrorized individuals, businesses and communities. Trying to disrupt any government activities, they destroyed post offices and public records. There were reports of "stolen horses and cattle; bridges being burned; roads suffering from neglect of repairs; court houses, churches and privates residences being abused or burned; public records destroyed; and soldiers or residents maimed for life". Neighbors identified as northern sympathizers were victims of random attacks. Men who had previously served in positions of authority were committing acts of disruption. Probably the most notorious of these local ranger groups were the "Moccasin Rangers", organized in 1861 in Calhoun County, West Virginia. The focus of their guerilla activities included the counties drained by the Little Kanawha River which flowed through Calhoun, Gilmer, Roane and Wirt counties. 

 

The men who made up the Moccasin Rangers were descendants of the earliest settlers of Calhoun county. There was a permanent settlement as early as 1774 along the banks of the Little Kanawha River, but most came between 1810 and 1830. These were the fathers and grandfathers of the men who became the Moccasin Rangers.  George Connolly, Anthony Parsons, Thomas Cottrell, Thomas Brannon, and three Truman families settled on the upper waters of the West Fork. Adam O'Brien, Peter Cogar, Isaac Mace, William Brannon, and Peter McCune settled along the West Fork on McCune's Run which emptied into the West Fork, just below Arnoldsburg. Philip Starcher, one of the earliest settlers, lived near present day Arnoldsburg by 1811 and was joined soon after by James Mayes, James Niles, Audrey Sharp, Stephen Burson,  William Brannan, John Haverty, John Goff, John Ball, Job Westfall, Samuel Barr, Alexander Huffman, Joshua Smith, James Arnold, Barnabas Cook, Archibald Burris, George Hardman, Salathiel Riddle, Henry Bell, Phillip Stallman, Isaac Cox, Benjamin Jackson, Michael Haverty, Thomas Holbert and Valentine Ferrell. 

Children who would become Moccasin Rangers grew up hearing stories about relatives who fought in the Revolutionary War serving as Indian spies or defending the frontier. Veterans of the Mexican American War and the War of 1812 were living in their neighborhoods. Although these families lived in an extremely rural area, the young men would have heard about the gold rush in California and would have wished they were old enough to join the men and get rich quickly. There was the discovery of oil nearby in Wirt County and promises of riches. As they reached young adulthood, they must have heard talk about whether new territories should be free or slave. Now as strong young adults, these men probably wanted to experience something exciting in their own lives. 

At the formation of Calhoun county in 1856, there were only about 2500 people in the area, but there were already arguments about where the county seat should be located. The first meeting of the county court was held at the home of Joseph Burson, at the mouth of Pine Creek, on the Little Kanawha River. In 1857 there were two county courts - one at Arnoldsburg and one at Pine Creek. In 1858 it was agreed that Arnoldsburg would be the county seat with land obtained from Peregrine Hays to build a court house.  Peregrine Hays was a one-time sheriff of both Gilmer and Calhoun counties and had represented Gilmer County in the Virginia legislature. Joseph Burson and Peregrine Hays both joined the Moccasin Rangers.  In 1862, during the Civil War, Union forces captured Arnoldsburg and placed Peregrine Hays under arrest as a political prisoner. Joseph Burson was killed in 1862. 

The topography of Calhoun County is rocky, hilly and heavily wooded with the Little Kanawha River as the main waterway. The land has never been good for farming or raising livestock commercially. There are gas and oil and timber resources, but most of the rights to any timber, oil or gas were sold to wealthier people who lived out of the area. The local woodsmen knew their wilderness and how to trap, shoot game, use their knives and guns, fish, hunt, and escape capture. The woods were their backyards. Traveling by  highway, it is 40 miles from Glenville in Gilmer county to Spencer in Roane county, but these rangers knew the area and trails to shorten the distance

In an attempt to eradicate the outlaw rangers, the Union organized the "Snake Hunters" to track these men down, capture them and take them to be imprisoned. In 1862 a newspaper reported that a captain "brought 34 prisoners said to be Moccasin Rangers who had been pillaging and murdering throughout Wirt, Roane and adjoining counties for some considerable length of time." Some men became disgusted with the barbaric tactics while others embraced the outlaw activities and continued to rob, ambush and kill people outside the normal rules of warfare. Two of the most notorious of the Moccasin Rangers were Peregrine "Perry" Connolly and his side-kick, Nancy Hart. Many tales are told of their war activities, but they both had brothers who were Union soldiers. Nancy's two brothers, Kelly and James Hart, both enlisted in the Union army. James Hart was killed at Cloyd's Mountain in 1864. Perry also had two brothers who served as Union solders. His brother James Connolly was a lieutenant in the Union army, and his brother Cornelius was wounded while a Union soldier, but another brother, John Connolly enlisted in Company E of the 14th Virginia Cavalry under Absolom Knotts.  

In 1862 the Virginia Assembly recognized these local ranger units as "State Rangers" and felt they were helpful to the regular Army, but in 1863 men from the guerilla units were reorganized under the command of regular Confederate companies. Some had already been killed, captured or tried for criminal activities. Most of the remaining men from the "Moccasin Rangers" were enlisted into Company A of the 19th VA Cavalry under William L "Mudwall" Jackson, a second cousin to Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. In May of 1863, Mudwall Jackson’s men participated in the destruction of the oil fields at Burning Springs in Wirt County. In 1865 after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Jackson disbanded the last of his Confederate forces at Lexington, Virginia,

Listing of Civil War Soldiers from Calhoun County - both Union and Confederate

Biographies of the Men who joined the Moccasin Rangers

As the war wound down, the financial and personal cost had to be counted. Lives had been lost and property destroyed. As many of the Moccasin Rangers were being released from prison, everyone hoped life could eventually return to normal. Who were the men who joined the guerilla band of Moccasin Rangers? What was their family history? What family dynamics produced these fighters who used guerilla tactics and wreaked havoc? What was life like for them before and after the war? Did their environment play any part? Can we learn from them? What forces made them who they were?

There are a variety of reports and stories published about the earliest settlers of Calhoun county and their descendants. Some stories are true, some are far-fetched and some are most likely false. An obviously frustrated person in nearby Jackson County wrote at the close of the war: "To trace the genealogy of all races according to the number of inhabitants, this people exceed all others. This gang of murderers claimed to be first cousins over sixty-five years ago when they first came to this section of the country, and since that time have continuously been intermarrying, and God only knows how long they intermarried before they came to this section" 

The following stories about the early settlers, their children and grandchildren were collected from a variety of sources including family histories. The information about the named Moccasin Rangers is drawn from Civil War records and birth, marriage and death records and is probably more accurate.  The remarks in italics are direct quotes from others.  Many are from either Daniel Dewees or John House, both of whom wrote about these families in about 1907.

Peregrine Hays

By Bob Weaver, Editor of the Hur Herald

The ghost of Peregrine Hays (1821-1903) lingers over the Calhoun landscape 150 years after its' creation. His role as a farmer, businessman and Confederate soldier to his political ambitions to carve a new county from the Virginia wilderness, makes him a prominent historical figure. Peregrine, a childhood playmate of General Stonewall Jackson, was a shaker and mover before, during and after the creation of Calhoun in 1856, with many of his letters and papers revealing his vital personality and contribution to the region. He was described as a brilliant child, full-of-life, with early records showing him in and out of court in Gilmer County. One John Burk sued 22-year-old Peregrine for "getting his daughter Jane with child," asking $200 for the loss of nine months work by his "daughter and servant."

Peregrine was the son of noted West Virginia politician and businessman, Samuel Lewis Hays (1794-1871) of Gilmer County. The 29-year-old Peregrine moved to Arnoldsburg in 1840, purchasing land along the West Fork of the Little Kanawha, just below the present day Arnoldsburg Elementary School. The elder Hays was a good role model, having served in the Virginia state assembly as a congressional representative, and sired successive generations of legislators, prominent in the establishment of several West Virginia counties. Sam Hays was described as an "old Virginia gentlemen and slave holder." Peregrine followed in his father's footsteps, with political ambitions and business acumen. Peregrine also had house slaves in Arnoldsburg, one of a few slaveholders in the county before the Civil War, some of which are allegedly buried in unmarked graves under or beside the Louisa Chapel United Methodist Church.

During a 15 year period, living on the same tract of land, Peregrine was a resident of three separate counties. In 1840 Arnoldsburg was in Kanawha, in 1845 it was in Gilmer and in 1856 it was in newly created Calhoun. In 1849, Peregrine was appointed postmaster of Arnoldsburg, a year later he was appointed deputy sheriff in Gilmer, and was elected sheriff in 1852.

PEREGRINE CREATES CALHOUN COUNTY
While a member of the Virginia Assembly from Gilmer and Wirt in 1855-56, he was instrumental in carving the territory that would become Calhoun and Roane counties, trading off and making deals with his political foes and allies. During the fracas, there was a major movement to create California County (which would include present Roane County), and would have included a goodly piece of land that is now part of Calhoun, or it could have been all of Calhoun. Phillip L. Crane of Lowell, Ohio, has researched and written "California County, Calhoun County of Roane County?" which shows Peregrine as a principal player. A petition was circulated, gathering a large number of resident signatures along the West Fork of the Little Kanawha (and from present day Roane County). While Hays may have entertained the California creation, he ended up opposing it. There were numerous other groups with proposed configurations. Peregrine, being the consummate politician and businessman, went into northern Calhoun below Grantsville and purchased land, just in case the county seat might be shifted in that direction. During a final showdown, Peregrine was upset about which county his Arnoldsburg property would be situated, after which agreement was reached to create two counties, Calhoun and Roane, Calhoun being carved from Gilmer.

COUNTY SEAT WOES
Peregrine lobbied to make Arnoldsburg the county seat of his new county, a decision that would become embroiled in conflict for many years. The north-south problem was execrated with the arrival of the Civil War, with most residents of southern Calhoun leaning toward the Confederacy. The well-recorded dispute between Grantsville and Arnoldsburg over the location of the county seat, shows it shifting back and forth several times. The animosity is based on some real issues, not the least being what appeared to be a "tilted election" over the location of the county seat in Grantsville. One-hundred and fifty years later, there are still bad feelings toward northern Calhoun and Grantsville by some residents of Washington and Lee Districts. In virtually every county election since 1856, would-be Calhoun politicians have used the animosity to their benefit or failure. In recent years, the telephone company did little to help the situation by creating a north and south telephone exchange 354 and 655.

PEREGRINE - A CONFEDERATE WARRIOR
In 1859 Peregrine was appointed a Major in the Virginia Militia by the Virginia governor. A year later he was elected Sheriff of newly formed Calhoun, a position he held at the outbreak of the war. He enlisted in the rebel group formed by Arnoldsburg resident Captain George Downs, which later was known as the Nineteenth Virginia Calvary, fighting under the command of Brigadier General William "Mudwall" Jackson, a cousin of Stonewall Jackson. Peregrine, besides his official appointment, was also linked to the county's rebel group, the Moccasin Rangers, and came to be known as one of the "men of desperate character...who were carrying on a war by a system of marauding and plundering and murdering." He was captured early in the war and held prisoner at Camp Chase, Ohio, with his long-time friend George Silcott, who was later a Calhoun sheriff. Records indicate Peregrine was paroled from prison and managed to engage in some business dealings while the war continued.

A HISTORICAL PRESENCE
After the war, he returned to Arnoldsburg, although by 1872 he was back in Glenville running the family businesses and helping organize the Glenville Normal School. In 1873 he purchased the old Gilmer courthouse for $300, to be used for the forerunner of Glenville State College. In 1877 he represented Gilmer County in the West Virginia House of Delegates.  Peregrine, during his latter years, lived a quiet life in his father's house at Glenville - the "Old Brick," where he died and is buried nearby.

Peregrine's great-grandson, Bernard R. Hays of Arnoldsburg, wrote about the Hays family, they "like many of their contemporaries on the West Fork, had served the lost cause of the Confederacy, and having so placed their sympathy and manhood, denied themselves of any chance of future remuneration from a grateful government." The distrust of those who supported the Confederacy resulted in discrimination, even excluding many of their names in the Calhoun census records, particularly after the stories of undisciplined blood-letting by the Moccasin Rangers circulated in the community.


The Connolly Family

George Connolly served in the Revolutionary War. He was from Richmond County, Virginia, was educated and was an early settler. In 1833 George Connolly owned 140 acres on the West Fork. He established one of the first schools in Calhoun county in the Washington District in 1835 in a small cabin on the right fork of the West Fork. He had eleven children, 5 daughters and 6 sons. His children and grandchildren married sons and daughters of other the early settlers. Among his children and grandchildren we find spouses with names of the early settlers, such as Jarvis, Flesher, McCune, Hall, Schoolcraft, Cottrll, Stallman, Gough, Butcher, Lee, Helmick, Brannon, Parsons, Dewees, Wayne, Laughlin, Greathouse, Badgett, Hopkins, Nichols, Nutter and Bush. Most of these family names appear on the listings of the Moccasin Rangers.

Patrick Connolly was a son of George and the father of nine children, 4 daughters and 5 sons. Two of his sons, James and Cornelius Connolly served as union soldiers, while two other sons, John and Perry Connolly enlisted in Confederate Units. John Connolly was a sergeant in the 14th Virginia Cavalry and his brother Peregrine "Perry" Connolly/Conley was the infamous Moccasin Ranger. 

Many stories are told about Perry and his activities, particularly with Nancy Hart.  One report described her as "a mountain spitfire, deadly as a copperhead and filled with partisan spirit, who rode with Perry Conley and his Moccasin Rangers through the central counties of West Virginia. In her spare time she picked up bits of information here and there that were helpful to the marauding Moccasins and to the other loosely associated groups operating as Virginia Partisan Rangers. Nancy Hart first appears in the Civil War Story in the early summer of 1861 when she was reported as the companion of Perry Conley in guerrilla forays in Calhoun County." 

Perry Connolly is reported as being "six feet, three inches in height, and with powerful muscular development and great endurance. From his youth he had been the leader of his group; he could out-run, out-fight and out-lift anybody in his section. It was not at all difficult for him to enlist his band of partisans". Perry Connolly died in Webster County, West Virginia in 1862. One report says that "he was surprised by a detachment of the 30th Ohio Infantry in Webster County in the early summer of 1862. Though he was mortally wounded at the first fire, he fought off his assailants until he ran out of ammunition, and was then clubbed into submission. After his death the band disintegrated; it had never been mustered into the state or regular Confederate service. Federal troops were closing in and most of the men ran to cover. Some joined Captain George Downs' Company A, 19th Virginia Cavalry, others, his brother John Connolly), enlisted in Captain Absolom Knotts' Company E, 14th Virginia Cavalry, while others carried on their private war from the hills." 

The Hart Family

With so many versions about the life of Nancy Hart, it is almost impossible to separate truth from fiction. Records of her family do not seem to match with some of the stories about her and her family. The truth is that she did ride with the Moccasin Rangers; she was captured as a spy; and whether she was a mistress of Perry Connolly or a useful tool is not certain.

Census and other documents show that her father was a Stephen Hart born about 1809 in North Carolina and his death record lists parents as James and Elizabeth. It is believed that he migrated to Russell County, Virginia around 1831 where he married Mary Jane Ferrell on 10 April 1831.  He declared this when applying for his son's Civil War pension filed 6 August 1890. From Russell county, the family migrated to what is now Boone County, West Virginia and where they appear in the 1850 census and daughter Nancy is 5 years old, making her born around 1845. By 1860 the family has moved on to Roane County (W)VA and she is with her family and is age 15. She is no longer living with her family in the Smithfield District of 1870, post Civil War.   Nancy was one of 12 children - 6 brothers and 5 sisters.  

The oldest sibling was Mary Jane Hart who married William Price in 1853.  Apparently William was a southern sympathizer.  The story is told that a group of Union guards came to the Price home, said that William was needed in Spencer for an oath of allegiance.  Two days later the family found him tied to a tree and shot. It is said that the murder of William Price by Union Guards was what motivated Nancy to join the rebel cause.  

However, Nancy Hart's brother, James Hart, joined the Union Company G of the 9th WV Infantry Regiment in February 1862 when it was organized at Spencer.  He was killed in May 1864 at Cloyd's Mountain.    Sister Charity was age 23 and still living at home in 1860; she died in 1869.  No record of a marriage.  Another brother of Nancy's, Kelly Hart, also was a Union soldier.  He enlisted in Captain Spencer's Company  in Roane County for 3 years.  On 13 Sept 1862 he was listed as missing in action at Charleston.  He was discharged in Feb 1864 in Fayetteville, WV where he re-enlisted as Veteran Volunteer.   In 1867 he married Sarah Haley.  Sometime between 1880 and 1900 he moved to Webster County, WV where he died in 1913.  Catherine Elizabeth Hart, another sister of Nancy, married John D Haley, brother of Sarah who married Kelly, and he also was a Union soldier in the 9th WV infantry like Kelly and James.  Brother Dolliver Hart died in 1873 at age 22.  Salina Hart also married a Union Soldier, David Harold who was also in the 9th WV infantry .

So ironically, except for William Price, who apparently was a southern sympathizer, all the brothers and brothers-in-laws in Nancy's family were Union soldiers.  Did she travel with the Moccasin Rangers because of the brutality of the murder of William and because his wife was her oldest sister - or was she the tomboy, spitfire as described who loved adventure?

Supposedly at some point it is said that Nancy married Joshua Douglas who was a Moccasin Ranger.  They apparently had at least two sons.  Dates and location of her death are still unclear, although it is believed she and Joshua lived in Webster County, WV.  

For more legend and lore about Nancy:

BLOOD-LETTER NANCY HART WENT TO HER MAKER OVER 100 YEARS AGO

"A MATCH MADE IN HELL" - Nancy Hart's Renegade Life

WILL THE REAL NANCY HART COME FORTH

CALHOUN'S HELLFIRE BAND MURDERED INNOCENTS - Outlaws, Vigilantes, Plunderers

'LEGENDS AND LORE' RECALLS BLOODY AND TROUBLING TIME - Calhoun Civil War Hardships

The Nichols and other related Families 

From "Recollections of a Lifetime" by Daniel S Dewees published 1907 Early Settlers on West Fork and Beech and Henry's Fork Waters pages 10-12

"I will now give my recollections of the early settlers that I know on the West Fork and Beech and Henry's Fork waters. Zephaniah Nicholas came to the West Fork from Elk River and was the father of Zephaniah; Jonathan; Robert; Andrew; and Miles (footnote says Miles left the country when he was a young man). Zephaniah Jr. married Nancy Marks. Jonathan married Sarah Nutter. He was murdered on the eighth night of April about 1842 by the Hell-Fired Band. Robert married Eakey Schoolcraft and Andrew married Elizabeth or Betsy Roy. Zephaniah, Sr. had a brother, Levan Nicholas, who came to the West Fork sometime about the year of 1820 and lived on the west side of the West Fork below Mushroom when I first knew him. His wife was a daughter of Old Isaac Mace and the sister of Henry Mace. Her name was Margaret and her nickname was Peggy. She had the following children: Rebecca, who married the first Daniel McCune, and then she also married Jacob Wayne; Solomon who married Dolly Wayne; (Dolly Wayne was a sister of Jacob Wayne); Jerry; Elizabeth; Anna and Lucretia. Solomon and Dolly Nicholas had the following children: Tunis; Ruben: and Nancy. Nancy Nicholas married Si Starcher who lives at the junction of Beech Fork with Henry's Fork. Jerry and Elizabeth Nicholas went away west somewhere when they were young. Anna Nicholas married James W Arnold, who was the son of James Arnold. Lucretia Nicholas married Charles Arnold, who was a brother of James W Arnold. James W Arnold was a pioneer school teacher of the West Fork.

From the first marriage of Rebecca Nicholas to Daniel McCune, the following children were born: Mary; Peter; Margaret; Barnibus; James; Solomon; and William. Mary McCune married Samuel Schoolcraft. Peter McCune married Patty Parsons, a daughter of Joseph Parsons, Sr., who lived at the forks of the West Fork. Margaret McCune Married Morris Short, who together with two of his brothers, John and Hiram, came to this area from Indiana about the year 1831.

John Nutter and his wife, Mary Mounts, came from Hughes River in Ritchie County about 1818 and settled on the south side of the West Fork just below Richardsonville, Calhoun County. They brought their family and also the widow of William Nutter. William Nutter was John's brother. John and Mary Nutter had the following children: Sarah; Elizabeth; James; Basiba; and Humphrey. Sarah Nutter married Jonathan Nicholas. Elizabeth married Abraham Starcher. James married Nelly Dewees, Basheba married Jeremiah Hickman in 1833; lived in Wirt County.
"

The O'Brian Family


The first land survey in the area took place in 1784 on behalf of John Allison who had a warrant on 11,000 acres of land in area. Adam O'Brien, an Indian scout and noted hunter, was part of the survey party, and as far as was known was the only member of the surveying party that returned to the county to reside. He lived in the bottom where Sutton now stands as early as 1795. He came from Harrison county, bringing with him his family except his wife, who he had abandoned for another woman. He subsequently moved to the waters of the West Fork of the little Kanawha, taking with him his numerous family some of whom were then married, many of whose descendants may now be found in that country. He was bold, adventurous, cunning and hardy. Though he traveled over the tributaries of the Elk, from the Holly to the mouth of the Big Sandy, and the Little Kanawha river, the Indians, though quite numerous at the time, were unable to intercept him. On one of those occasions it is said that he was hotly pursued by the exasperated red men down the river to a little shoal about a half mile below Clay Courthouse, where he crossed the river to the south side and eluded his pursuers in the dense forest of Pisgah mountain. This shoal still bears the name of O'Briens ford, and many other streams, mountains, gaps and other places of note by their names still attest the early presence of this adventurous man.

His mantel seemed to fall on his son John, who though not quite equal to his father in all respects, had the same adventurous spirit, was equally active and hardy, and had an equal fondness for a plurality of wives. 

John O'Brien's daughter Lacy was murdered in Clay county in 1916 reflecting some of the lawlessness that still prevailed and also showed the people still responded with 'frontier justice'. Apparently the people had had enough after this and other murders and posted the following notice prominently in many places in the area. "We, the citizens of Clay county, seeing that we cannot get justice by law, have organized the Clay County Mob. We have pledged our lives to drive these people from our county or kill them. If we cannot catch and hang you, we will sneak upon and kill you as you killed Henry Hargis, Lacy Anne Boggs, the old peddler and Preston Tanner. If before you leave, there is any stealing, killing or burning, we will get the blood-hounds and detectives and run you to the ends of the earth. Nill Sampson, Kooch Sampson, Fred Moore and Aaron Runyon are hereby notified to leave the state in ten days. Rose Lyons, Bill More and Elizabeth Sampson are notified to leave in thirty days. P.S. Do not stop this side of the Ohio River." It's interesting that in one of the pardons of a Moccasin Ranger, there is a statement that he is to go west of the Ohio River and not return to West Virginia until the war's end.

The Brannon Family

William Wrighter Brannon was an early settler in what became the Lee District of Calhoun County about 1810. It is said that he traded an ax for a piece of land. 

Henry Brannon was born in 1831 and was a grandson of William Wrighter Brannon, the original settler. Around 1852 he married Mary Jane Laughlin. He was living in Calhoun County on July 1 1863 when he registered for the Civil War draft. Henry enlisted with the Confederate Moccasin Rangers unit, while his wife's brother Alvah Laughlin served as a Union soldier. Henry was captured and sent to Camp Chase in Ohio. Alvah was captured and died while a prisoner of war. There is a record of Henry's explanation about joining up with the Moccasin Rangers in his release papers from Camp Chase. Whether this was his effort to sound less guilty or whether the story is true may never be known. 

"The prisoner states that under oath that in Oct 1862 he went to the store of one Absalom Knotts (a rebel recruiting officer) to trade - that whilst there the said Knotts endeavored to persuade him to enlist in his company then forming, and to excite his fears if he refused - that he did refuse went home and in a few days was take by a guard of 3 men put in the custody of a lieut. and forcibly carried to Monroe County placed in camp and then assigned as above designated - that he remained in the rebel service until Oct 30 1863 when he by advantage of the darkness of the night he left the camp before pickets were stationed and went home a distance of 10 miles - that the rebels at that time were on a retreat and did not molest him - that he was arrested as above stated (meeting the Federal Scouts at his house.) He further states that it was his design to surrender. He appears to be a harmless ignorant man unacquainted with the questions in controversy and the causes of the war. He avowals are strongly for the Govt of U States and his fellow citizens ask for his release in which Gov Boreman concurs"

The Parsons Family

Anthony Parsons married Catherine McCune in 1807 in Harrison County. Catherine was the daughter of Peter McCune, one of the early Calhoun settler and Christina O'Brien, daughter of Adam O'Brien, another early settler of Calhoun. Children of Anthony and Catherine were "John, whose daughter Amelia married Rev. M. B. Edmondson, and a daughter who married John Conally, son of Dr. George Conally. Joseph, married Elizabeth Bush, a daughter married Jacob Schoolcraft, and another, Christina, married Jacob Wayne". 

Anthony is said to be a son of Charles Parsons who "was killed by the Indians while floating down Shade River, Meigs County, Ohio. He was said to have been a red haired man. Charles Parsons married a Westbrook. Their children were: James, who was but six years old at the time his father was killed by the Indians. Anthony, married Catherine McCune, daughter of Peter McCune, Sr "

According to Daniel Dewees: "a son of the old Dr. George (Connolly), married a daughter of Anthony (and Catherine) Parsons. John lived at what is now known as the William Knotts homestead on the left hand fork of West Fork. He was accused of being implicated in the Jonathan Nicholas murder, and disappeared. His family followed him to Missouri."  This would be John Connolly, a brother of Patrick Connolly, and an uncle of the four sons of Patrick who fought in the Civil War.  John Connolly's wife was Christina Elvira Parsons, daughter of  Anthony and Catherine Parsons.  They married in 1829 and had a son Anthony who married Rebecca Schoolcraft in 1856 in Calhoun County.