Jeff Harvey

Continuing with what William Sanders II had to say in his book “A New River Heritage, Volume IV”, (McClain Publishing, 1994) we turn to Elizabeth Belcher Bailey’s in-laws, better known as the Mitchell and Phoebe Belcher Clay family. A brother or cousin, Isham Belcher, arrived in Tazewell County about the same time as the Baileys arrived at Beaver Pond.

The Clays had arrived at Clover Bottom (Lake Shawnee) a few years before the Baileys. When the massacre that killed three of their children, two at the site, occurred, the survivors fled to James Bailey’s home in New Hope, about halfway between the Clay and Bailey settlements.

James Bailey was the third son and child of Richard and Elizabeth Bailey. He married Margaret Stinson. He was named for his grandfather James, who remained in Chesterfield County Va., in what is known as Colonial Heights, north of Petersburg. His first home was on the rising ground on the right side of Sandlick Road a short distance from the present New Hope Methodist Church behind the homes of the Young family. This information came to Sanders from the late John Maxey and confirmed attorney Robert bailey, Jr. of Pineville, a direct descendant.

When the Clay massacre occurred at Clover Bottom in August, 1783, the survivors fled to James Bailey’s home approximately six miles away from Clover Bottom. Phoebe Belcher was either Bailey’s aunt or second cousin through his mother and also came from near Petersburg.

At the home, a pursuit party was swiftly organized. It was comprised of Capt. Matthew Farley, Bailey, Mitchell Clay, Sr., Mitchell Clay, Jr.Charles Clay, William Wiley and Cat. James Moore. After burying Tabitha and Bartley Clay, the party followed the trail of the approximately 11 Shawnee which split into two trails. One party overtook the Shawnee, killing three of them and Bailey and Wiley took a strip of hide off one of the dead. It was kept in the Wiley family for generations as a razor strap. The party also recovered horses stolen from the Clay farm, but Ezekiel Clay, the 16-year-old son of Mitchell, Sr. and Phoebe was taken by the other Shawnee party to their village in what is now Chillicothe, Ohio, where he was reported burned at the stake. His father later recovered his remains and buried them with his siblings.

We’ll do more on James Bailey, next time.

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