Mark Royston a former resident of this area has written several books about his ancestors who lived in Wildcat Hollow.. His part fiction and part historical accounts of the early residents of this area is a great read and gives a vivid account of what life was like back in the early 1800s.
"The Spout Spring" and "Wildcat's Den" by Mark Royston are available on Amazon,
Civil War on Paris Mountain Timeline
"Of all the mountain passes on the map of the Old Dominion none was associated in the Civil War with the movements of more different military organizations" of both Armies than Ashby Gap.
( Annals of Ashby Gap pg. 13)
July 18, 1861
General Joseph E. Johnson's army with Jackson's Brigade passed through Ashby Gap on the way from Winchester to aid Beauregard at the battle of First Manassas.
July 19, 1861
General Jackson's First Brigade bivouacked at Paris, VA. on their way to the First Battle of Manassas. General Jackson himself stood guard while his weary troops slept. The next morning he marched his troops to Delaplane where they boarded a train to Manassas.
July 22, 1861
Word arrives in Paris of a victory at Manassas and then came the wagons bringing home the dead and wounded of the valley.
April 15, 1862
The first loss of life near our area as a result of the war happened on this date and not a shot was fired. Union General Blenker's division which was camped at Paris was en route to Winchester, found the Shenandoah swollen and the ferry had been partially destroyed by the Confederates.
While repairs were being made, a woman by the name of Nancy Benn who was quite outspoken appeared and demanded restitution for livestock that theYankees had taken. Her demands having been ignored, she expressed the hope that the ferry would sink and drown the lot. Her curse apparently was a potent one since the ferry did sink mid-stream, drowning about 25 Union troops.
May 31, 1862
Several thousand Union troops under Gen. John W. Geary camped at Ashby Gap. Cattle were taken as well as forage. Needless to say, the locals were not happy with the plundering.
May 16, 1863
Near Berry's Ferry, a detachment of the 1st New York under Lieut. Vermilyea with an advance guard of 16 men fell into ambush of 22 Confederate Cavalry. Lieut Vermilyea charged the Confederates, killing 2, wounding 5 and capturing 10. The union loss was 2 men and several horses wounded. One of the killed was Captain W. W. Meade who was shot from his horse and drowned in the Shenandoah River.
June 18, 1863
Confederate General Pickett and his Division marched through the gap on their way to Gettysburg.
June 19, 1863
Gen. Lee at the head of the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia crossed the Blue Ridge through Ashby’s Gap and that night he pitched his tent in one of the "Saratoga" fields. His tent was set up, according to well founded tradition, near a spring along the run which flows at the bottom of the hill upon which "Saratoga" stands.
June 21, 1863
Confederate General James Longstreet occupied Ashby's Gap. During this same time period, Generals Lee, McLaws, Hood, and Hampton passed through the gap as they traveled toward that fateful battle at Gettysburg The local populace turned out to cheer them and to offer what meager refreshment they could afford.
July 19, 1864
Union General Alfred Duffie reached Ashby's Gap and drove out a small Confederate force and pushed on to Berry's Ferry and in crossing was met by Confederate artillery and heavy musketry. Duffie fell back to Ashby's Gap with both sides suffering heavy losses. This fighting is often called the Battle of Ashby Gap or sometimes referred to as the Battle of Berry's Ferry. Confederate Generals Imboden and Crook were instrumental in this fight.
It should be noted here that a local woman who was a staunch southerner, played an heroic role in this conflict. Her name was Minerva Calmes Royston MacDonald.
In the thick of this battle a cannon ball came crashing through her beautiful home demolishing one room, killing a child and wounding several others. This heroic woman turned her damaged home into a hospital where men from both armies were tenderly cared for. Mrs. MacDonald with her own hands, bound up wounds and while the battle was still raging she made several trips to the spring for fresh water. (Mark Royston and her published obituary)
November 28, 1864
Under General Sheridan's direction, federals began burning and looting the mountain from Paris to Aldie and on to the Piedmont. They burned barns, hay and out buildings, taking cattle and hogs.
December 16, 1864
Captain Chapman of Mosby's Rangers passed through the gap and crossed the Shenandoah at Berry's Ferry surprising a Union detachment taking 68 prisoners and 60 horses
February 18, 1865
Twenty year old Major Dolly Richards of Mosby's Rangers launched a surprise counter attack with 28 mounted men at Mount Carmel Church just west of Ashby's Gap. Union forces under Major Thomas Gibson lost 13 men, and an equal number were wounded. 64 union soldiers were taken prisoner.
There were no services at the little log church that day. Some say that those who came and buried the dead and helped the wounded thought they heard the pump organ playing an old favorite: "The Strife is O're, the Battle is Done"
With the fight at Mount Carmel Church the war on Paris Mountain had finally come to an end. This was the last time that Civil War gun fire was heard in this area.
Much of the information in these timelines was obtained from an out of print book entitled "Liberty Hill" by Charles Harrison Mann. A copy is available at the Clarke County Historical Association in Berryville.
We are also indebted to Mark Royston for his research of Wildcat Hollow and Paris Mountain.
How did Wildcat Hollow get its name?
Legend has it that wildcats lived in the hollow. It was thought that their den was located in a rock outcropping just up the road from our second entrance.
Early Settlers Of Carefree Acres
In the years after1759 the land where Carefree Acres is located was owned by Joseph Berry. It was his family that operated Berry's Ferry near the site of the present day route 50 bridge. Berryville, Virginia was also named after this prominent family.
In the late 1800s Carefree Acres was called Long Meadow. It was owned by Joseph Berry Lindsey and his wife Mary McCormick. Lindsey built a house here back in 1870 after his first home which was located near the present day Route 50 and the Shenandoah River was washed away in the flood of 1870. He built an L-shaped, two story, clapboard house with a large front porch. The house was torn down prior to1983, but the barn was turned into a house and is still occupied today.
Obviously the Berrys and the Lindseys intermarried and this land remained in their families for many years.
(Annals of Clarke County Vol 1, p39)
Joseph Berry Lindsey, b. 2/10/1837, at Berry's Ferry, d. 2/11/1916, at "Long Meadow". He enlisted in 1861, in Millwood, in Co. C, 2nd Virginia Infantry (Stonewall Brigade), and later served under Colonel Mosby (Mosby's Rangers).
Paris Mountain Historical Timeline
The Shenandoah valley was inhabited by Mannahoac Indians. They apparently burned off much of the valley land for a great vast prairie where buffalo, elk, bear, deer and wolves were the sole proprietors. The area along the Shenandoah river provided excellent village sites for the Indians. The name Shenandoah is of native american origin.
Indians complained to the governor of Maryland that the white man was on their side of the Blue Ridge. The indian name for the mountains was Unakoi or Unaquoi which meant smokey mountains.
Prior to this date, the land east of the Blew Ridge was known as the Northern Neck and was owned by the Fairfax family of Leeds Castle, County Kent, England. Upon the death of Lady Fairfax in 1719, the Northern Neck went toThomas 6th Lord Fairfax.
Lord Fairfax established various manors. Hence, the name Leeds Manor Road.
The pass through the mountain is known as Ashby's Bent or Gap. It had been for many years a major Indian thoroughfare
Ferry established where present Route 50 bridge is. It was known first as Kersey's ferry and later was named Berry's Ferry after 1757. It was also called Ashby's Ferry at one time.
Old log house just west of Ashby's Gap (It now has white siding) was built supposedly by Thomas Ashby. There was not a lake there until much later. There was a creek and spring for the cabin.
Prior to 1743
Colonial road established from Ashby's Gap to Howell's Ferry which was located 5 miles up river from Berry's Ferry. The road is thought to have begun just below the west side of Ashby's Gap at the present day Route 600 (Liberty Hill Road). It continued behind Liberty Hill Farm, along a portion of the present day fire road down the mountain through Carefree Acres and finally joining with the present Pioneer Road down to the Shenandoah River at Howellsville road. It is also thought that the main road also split and came down through Wildcat Hollow. The old Wildcat Hollow road apparently crossed Wildcat Creek 4 times. Traces of these old roads can be seen in Carefree Acres.
The Iroquois Indians finally sold their rights to the land west of the Blue Ridge and east of the Allegheny Mountains for 200 pounds of gold. This was known as the treaty of Lancaster. However some Cherokee and Shawnee lands were not relinquished until later after skirmishes with the westward moving colonists.
George Washington was employed by Lord Fairfax to survey his lands both east and west of the Blew Ridge.
By this date, all the Indians had left the valley and followed the buffalo to the west over the Allegheny Mountains.
Mount Carmel Church built.
Legend has it that a Miss Polly Ann Green once nursed Lord Fairfax back to health at his Greenway Court home near White Post, Virginia, some six miles away. She was an ardent prayer and as she prayed for his recovery she asked him for a place to build a church near her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Ashby's Gap.
He granted her wish and the land was surveyed by his surveyor, young George Washington. (Mark Royston Research)
By this date another westward migration began through Ashby's Gap, sometimes referred to as the Tidewater invasion. People left the tidewater areas to escape from mosquitoes.
On the third day of March George Washington made an entry in his diary.
"Dined at Barry's (on Shanondoah) and reached Greenway Court in the Afternoon where we stayd all Night."
Obviously meaning Berry's Ferry where there was a store and tavern where weary travelers could dine and spend the night.
Road from Paris to Alexandria (Little River Turnpike Route 50) completed. Also the principle road through Fauquier from Fredricksburg to Winchester joined at Paris. (present day Route 17)
The town of Paris was laid out by Peter Glascock who set aside 60 acres of his property for the village. He named the town Paris because of his admiration of French general Lafayette. Glascock's home was situated on the side of the mountain overlooking Paris. The house still stands today and was called La Grange after Layfayette's estate in Paris. (Two story colonial with green barn right on Route 50)
The Marquis de Lafayette visited "Springsbury" in Clarke Co., Virginia, when it was the home of his friend John Holker (1743 - 1820), who had been appointed French Consul General and Agent for the Royal Marine by the government of Louis XVI.
Legend has it that he spent a night in the tiny settlement nestling at the foot of the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge on the road to Ashby’s Gap in Fauquier County, Va., a few hundred yards from the Clarke boundary, and that the next day the inhabitants named their village "Paris" in his honor, and by that name this village has been known ever since.
Paris Va incorporated by the general assembly .
Improvements made to the road from Aldie to Paris which became a toll road.
General assembly authorized the Ashby Gap Turnpike Company to establish a road through Ashby Gap to the Shenandoah River
Paris was a thriving community, and was a crossroads stop for wagon trains that crossed through the gap hauling produce from the valley east and goods and merchandise from the east to the valley.
At one time there were three taverns in Paris as well as many other businesses including a tannery.
The advent of the C&O Railroad, basically killed the wagon train traffic through Paris. This meant an end to the growth of this promising metropolis.
The first bridge across the Shenandoah at Berry's Ferry was authorized by the General Assembly. It was an iron bridge with oak board flooring 16 ft long. The height of the bridge was 46 feet above the bed of the river. It was built 4 feet above the high water mark of the 1870 flood. Traces of this bridge are still visible just up river from the present day bridge.
A one room school house was built on route 602 in Wildcat Hollow. It was called Wildcat Academy and was located about 1/4 mile up 602 from the Carefree Acres second entrance. There are remains of old stone foundations in that area.
A huge fire swept Paris Mountain burning thousands of acres.
The Byrd Bridge was completed, which at that time was a single span which was raised some 10 feet above the previous original bridge. In 1942 an even bigger flood came through and covered this bridge by 2 feet.
The Civilian Conservation Corp established by FDR as part of the "New Deal" after the "Great Depression", built a fire trail road from Ashby's gap to Blue Mountain. Part of the fire trail was a section of the original 1743 colonial road (Rt 600 Liberty Hill Road).