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Thursday, September 19, 2013


"That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."
Mark 7:20-23
 

Kinfolk...a different kind of music.  "Vance's Farewell," was a ballad from the Blue Ridge almost 200 years ago written by Abner Vance in 1819.  There were dirty doings going on at the Clinch River...


"Wish it was Indians, it'd be simpler justice." Abner Vance, took the rifle off the hook and checked to make sure it was loaded with the ominous click of iron opening and closing of the chamber.

"It would all come out alright if he would just marry Elizabeth," his wife Susannah worried.

"This might help him see the error of his ways."

"It's those Horton boys.  Daniel and Lewis have just gone to seed."

"What about our Elizabeth?  Is she in love with Lewis?"

"I should hope so.  She's been off with him for going on two months now. What do you think he's doing bringing her back here now?  Do you think he wants to make it right?"

"Only one way to find out.  Let's go talk to them."

 
Looking toward the Vance place

The pair rode up on one horse and Elizabeth slipped down walking past her parents with a hard face going in the cabin slamming the door behind her.

Lewis' horse pranced backwards.

"What are your intentions with my daughter, young man?"

"She wanted to come home, so I brought her."

"Not so fast.  You can't just use a woman for a few weeks and then drop her back home as if she was a plow horse.  That's our precious baby girl you've messed with ruining her reputation.  I suggest you do some quick thinking and make the honorable choice Mr. Horton."

"Are you threatening me, Vance?"

"I'm making a strong suggestion or there will be hell to pay."

Lewis Horton weighed his choices while his horse danced in the Clinch River ford shallows.  Suddenly he spurred his horse away and made for the other side of the river on the run.

"He's getting away Abner!"  Susannah yelled.  "Stop him!"

Vance raised his rifle and trained his site on the rider as if he were a buck and blasted away.  Lewis fell into the river off his horse.


This is the ford on the Clinch River by the Vance place where Lewis was shot.
 

"I didn't mean shoot him, Abner! Now look what you've done."

"Don't shoot, don't shoot!" A man on the other side jumped off his horse and pulled the seriously wounded Horton out of the river before he could drown and threw him over his horse and thundered off."

"Pa!"  Elizabeth screamed from the house.  "What have you done!  You murdered Lewis!"

"What do you expect me to do to the man who has drug you to the lowest...the man ruined you, Lizzie."

"Well, Abner, I'll pack you some food, cause sure as the sun comes up, they'll be here to take you to jail.  You better run.  I never dreamed it would be this way.  I stood by you when you were an Indian scout, a soldier in the Revolutionary War, a farmer and a Baptist preacher.  But now you are an outlaw.  Lord help us!"

Abner hid out for two years before coming back to face the music.  His wife and a son were also jailed but later released.  His ballad written in his jail cell while waiting for the end to come became legend and was sung in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has survived for nearly two hundred years.

Abner Vance was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged.  Four thousand people came for his hanging and he spoke for an hour and a half to the crowd as the paper said, "with the most perfect composure and heroic fortitude."  Some say a pardon from the governor arrived too late.  In Abingdon, Virginia, there was no shotgun wedding, only a shotgun funeral for one and a rope for the other.  Elizabeth never married but gave birth to "Bad" Jim Vance who was involved in the Hatfield-McCoy feud.  Another of the girls, Nancy, married Ephraim Hatfield and was the mother of "Devil Anse" Hatfield.


THE VANCE SONG
 
Bright shines the sun on Clinch's Hill.
So soft the west wind blows.
The valleys are lined with flowers gay,
Perfumed by the wild rose.
 
Green are the woods through which Sandy flows.
Peace dwells in the land.
The bear doth live in the laurel green.
The red buck roves the hills.
 
But Vance no more on Sandy behold
Nor drink its crystal waves.
The partial judge announced his doom.
The hunter's found his grave.
 
There's Daniel, Bill, and Lewis,
A lie against me swore
In order to take my life away
That I may be no more.
 
But I and them shall meet again
When Immanuel's trumpet shall blow.
Perhaps I'll be wrapped in Abraham's bosom
When they roll in the gulf below.
 
My body it will be laid in the tomb.
My flesh it will decay,
But the blood that was shed on Calvary
Has washed my sins away.
 
Farewell, farewell, my old sweetheart,
Your face I'll see no more.
I'll meet you in the world above,
Where parting is no more.
 

 
Listen to the old recording by the Blue Ridge Mountain Music Collection

*The father of Abner Vance was Ephraim Vance called "Levi" who was the nephew of our 5th great grandfather Samuel Vance (same 6 great grandfather Andrew Vance)

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