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.)


  1. My Great-great Grand father is also Rainwater Ramsey-
    Just came back from Ramsey Ridge yesterday- 6-4-06.
    I’d love any information you may have on my family-
    There was a desendent named Universal- Rainwaters son, James Melvin Ramsey was my Grandpa’s daddy (Brownlow Crittenton ) There was a sister Etta Universal Ramsey – she passed in 1996.
    Thank you!

  2. Rainwater Ramsey was my Great Great Great Grandfather. This is the most I’ve heard about him except from my grandfather Warren Ball. Thanks for posting this. What a small world!

  3. I was born and raised on Ramsey Ridge my great grandparetns were Nelson and Lula Branham I have always heard stories of Rainwater Ramsey, and would like to learn more of the heritage.

  4. The Ramsey Ridge Family Memorial is coming up-
    June 2nd, 2007.
    A group of us “Ramseys” from NC are heading up on Saturday morning- the service will be at the church on Ramsey Ridge- looking forward to being there.

  5. The Ramsey Memorial 6/1/07 trip was great- My Aunt Marietta Ramsey Upright (Great -granddaughter of Rainwater) had (2) head stones made to mark the graves of James Melvin and Rose Hicks Ramsey with her infant child, which were only marked by a couple rocks. James Melvin was Rainwater’s son and my Grandfather’s father. My Father, was also named James Melvin Ramsey.

  6. My mother was born and raised on Ramsey Ridge, her parents were Charles Rice Fields and Una Elizabeth Stanley Fields.
    My mother is Lois Fields Puckett.
    I didn’t realize there was a Ramsey Memorial although I don’t know why! This is behind the Caney Ford United Baptist Church? I’m sure I’ve been there many many times, as recently as 2 years ago.

  7. My Grandfather is Dallas Ramsey he is from Dicksen county VA Rainwater and Universal are his great-great Grandparents which makes me if my memory serves correctly 3rd or 4th generation Grandparents . I have heard many tales of Rainwater and Universal Ramsey that were passed down from my papaws people. I was so amazed when I found this on the internet about my family if u have anymore info I would be so thankful to know anything .
    God Bless
    Keshia Ramsey

  8. I really don’t have a lot of info. I certainly would love to hear your stories.

  9. I am writing this for my husband Mike Ramsey. Son of Hillard H. Ramsey who was the son of Floyd, son of Elbert (fiddling bird), son of Rainwater. Which would make him the great great great grandson of Rainwater.We were at Ramsey Ridge for Hillards funeral in 1988 and then again about five years after that .We had planned to go to the Daniel and Hannah memorial in 2008 but got the dates wrong. We have some extensive geneology on the Ramsey’s, Brannam’s, Counts, Una Franklin etc going back to the 1500 and 1600 hundreds.Have been trying to get in touch with some of the Ramsey family and would appreciate any response.We live in Michigan and Mike is 56 years old. There are very few Ramseys left on this branch of the tree. As Hillard only had one son and his brother Walter had no children. But we have a son stationed in Sugar Grove, West Va. and he is amazed at all the Ramseys in the phone book.

  10. My father Warren Ball, was the grandson of Elbert Ramsey. My parents often shared stories about Elbert from the time he lived with them during the first years of their marriage. They have quite a bit of info about the lineage of the Dickenson County Ramsey family. We also live in Michigan. Please feel free to contact me – maybe we can share info on our heritage.

  11. Went back to Ramsey Ridge June 7th-
    Just love going there-
    Went to Caney Fork Church and enjoyed the service- didn’t make it to the early service- The folks there are so kind- and what a spread of food- Wonderful!
    Is the 1st Sunday in June every year-

  12. can you link william ramsey and margret hicks to rainwater william ramsey is my great great great gran dad


  14. Rainwater was my 3rd great grandfather and I’ve heard the hollow tree big enough for his horse story too! Also heard he owned a piece of property that eventually became part of the White House property. I contacted them for info and if Rainwater owned it, it must have changed hands between. I thought his wifes name was Una Versal Franklin. I have her parents info somewhere. She was later known as “Phanny” Ramsey. I have some info on Genforum.com

  15. Hi my name is timothy caney ramsey…my grandfathers name was caney ramsey born in madison co nc in 1885.
    you speak of a caney fork chruch,i wonder if that is where my grandfathers name came from…any info would be nice.

  16. Hi My husband is Frank Ramsey His father was Joseph Ramsey His father was Samuel ramsey Rainwater had a daughter who died in child birth The child was Samuel and Rainwater raised him Oh what a small world please contact me Knopp65@aol.com Thank you

  17. Rainwater & Universal Ramsey are my 3rd great-grandparents. I would love to hear more about them.

  18. Hello, I have some acreage on Ramsey Ridge if anyone is interested in it. I am not a decendant of Rainwater Ramsey but I beleive my friend was and I obtained the property from her. I live in Florida and am unable to build on said property. Please send email if interested.
    Thank you,

  19. Mary,
    I am very interested in the property on Ramsey Ridge… Rainwater Ramsey was my dad’s Great great grandfather. This property would be very sentimental to us… Please respond!! I look forward to speaking with you 🙂

  20. Can anybody out there give me information on my forefathers or foremothers lineage. Her name was Julie Stanley. His name was Willard Stanley. Desendants from Rainwater and Una Stanley. My mother’s name was Augutha Stanley/Mullins, and my father’s name was Jessie (Jess) Mullins. My father was killed in the coal mines. I can give you numerous names of other relatives. I am deeply rooted to the area. Also, does anyone know more about these other relatives: Starting from way back… Clum Mullins, Jack Mullins, Marthy/Marth Mullins/Stanley, Jim Mullins, Irene Stanley, Julie Stanley, Raymond Stanley, Jake Stanley, Angeline Mullins/Stanley… Is there anyone out there who can provide information on my lineage and how I fit into the picture? There have been so many years past with no contact. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to write: jmullins@grizzlystone.com or call me (540-830-4383).

  21. hadn’t been on this page in years. my husband Mike is a Ramsey, Fiddling Bird was his great or great great grandfather don’t have time to look just now but I will let him know tonight to check this sight out and get back to some of you. We do have some extensive geneology (thanks to a cousin of mine who loves the stuff) which may help. April 13,2012. Lynne

  22. Rainwater Ramsey is my Great Great Grand father’ Im would like any more storys or information on him.. All you people are related to rainwater are a part of are History and me…thanks to all

  23. My grandfather, Lloyd “Clayton” Ramsey, brother to Dallas, Johnny, Francis and Louvern Ramsey passed away this past weekend. Rainwater was their great great grandfather. Clayton’s parents were Sylvester and Bitha Ramsey. All from Dickenson County, Va. I haven’t been to Ramsey Ridge since my youth however can remember going to the church on decoration day. I would enjoy hearing more information if available.

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