Rainwater Tales

Oct. 2005 photo by Roger Roop of Rainwater Ramsey thombstone Who knows where history and myth intertwine.

Faded memories, stories that changed with the tellers . . . or just crumbled over time.

I got a letter today from my mother with a clipping from a September 10, 2003, column in The Dickenson Sun/Cumberland Times.

Columnist Anna Belcher was writing about my great-great-grandfather on my mother's side the family, Rainwater Ramsey, who started his family on Ramsey Ridge in Dickenson County, Va. Dickenson County is a small county in mountainous country. There's maybe 6,750 households. The three towns in the county are Clintwood, Haysi, and Clinchco.

Rainwater Ramsey was born Nov. 11, 1829 and died Jan. 9, 1902. Much more, I don't know for sure. He most certainly wasn't born in Dickenson County -- it didn't exist when he was born. He was, however, born in Russell County, one of the three counties that were carved up to create Dickenson County in 1880. There seems to be records that he served in the 21st Virginia Cavalry of the Confederate Army.

He was part Indian.

Belcher said she was told he slept in a hollow log in front of the fireplace. and by another family that when he first came to the area, he lived in a hollow tree, "big enough for his horse, too!"

He built his home, the first on the ridge and the ridge was supposedly named for him. The home had four rooms, two downstairs and two upstairs.

His married Universal (no known descendant has been named that) "Una" Franklin Stanley in 1849 and had 17 children.

It lacks the lacks the intrigue of the The Da Vinci Code, but for far different reasons, it's a family tale has its own share of mysteries.

(The photo was taken by Roger Roop on Oct. 2, 2005, on Ramsey Ridge, Va.)