The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

A Special Letter From A Reader

By Nell C. Thompson © 1986

Issue: February, 1986

The following is a letter from Nell Thompson of Daleville, Virginia concerning the Concord Primitive Baptist Church.

This is a copy of the note written by Leahvanna Clifton Cassell and her husband Russell B. Cassell some years ago.

"Elder E.E. Cassell, Mrs. Ida Harris and the Deacons of Concord Church at Meadows of Dan, Virginia:

We, Russell B. Cassell and Leahvanna Cassell, acknowledge the thanks extended to us by the Church of Concord at Meadows of Dan and feel grateful that we could help do something to make the Church House a more comfortable place to hold services during the winter months.

We are not oblivious of the honor that your thoughtful kindness has bestowed upon us by entering our names on the "Church Book" of Concord Church and there is something else we wish to remind the Church, that our most sincere and humble thanks goes repeatedly to the One that, through us, it was made possible that we could do something for the betterment of the Church House that furnishes The Church a comfortable place to meet and mingle together in peace and harmony which we hope that will last as long as there is the name Concord Primitive Baptist Church."

Then she wrote an explanation about the gift. She wrote:

"It had no heat and the floor was most out and needed painting and we did give them a floor and furnace and some other items they needed.

This church was the first one built in the vicinity in the year 1835 and my grandfather [Heron] Boyd gave the land to build it on and he and my great-grandfather [Spencer] Cockram did most of the work in building the first log structure that lasted until 1912, I think. It had a chimney and fireplace in each end and wooden shutters over square holes sawed out for windows and they held services out in the woods where they had erected a place called a stand. They were about to lose all the members when the roof got to leaking and the church logs were about to fall apart. A sawmill was moved into the neighborhood by someone who had a boundary of land with timber on it and he helped them to have lumber sawed to build another church and that is the one that is there now.

My grandfather [Heron Boyd] was wounded on election day in November, 1876 not far from the church, [the old one] at Jeff Lawson's store and they carried him out to the church and he died in it that night about 12 o'clock.

My grandfather had gone to the store to buy some coffee and soda and to hear how the election was decided when he walked upon the platform of the store. Lawson said to him, "Our man got elected." Grandfather said to him, "I thought he would. You can't keep a good man down." A man out in the road yelled out, "I can knock one down" and threw a rock at Heron Boyd and hit him at the base of the skull and he fell into the store door. Some people who were in the store rushed out and saw the man who did it and recognized him. The man ran in the direction of the ford over Dan River. One man got on his horse and went as fast as he could to overtake and hold him but never saw him. They made a roadblock at the ford for that was the only place he could get across the river without swimming. The water was high and cold too. A warrant was sworn out and a posse was formed and they searched the river bank for miles. Finally one man found the suspect's boots and a fawn jacket which he was known to be wearing."

Leahvanna died in August 1978. Russell died in October, 1979. Previous to his death, he related to me that another story was told also about the above suspect. It was told that his mother found him and gave him money and he escaped. At any rate, the suspect was never caught and/or prosecuted.

I have been able to glean a few facts myself. One month after Russell Cassell's death, I attended a church service in the Concord Primitive Baptist Church and it was verified that Heron Boyd did indeed donate the land on which the original church stood. However according to some the date was 1850 when he gave the land. That would have made Heron's age more reasonable for such a gift. He was born in 1826.