Jeff Harvey

We’re getting close to the end of our current research material, William Sanders II’s book “A New River Heritage, Volume IV (1994, McClain Publishing) so let’s get to it.

As noted last time, two of “Miller Bob” Lilly’s sons left the Bluestone River Valley for Bluefield. David Green Lilly and Robert C. Lilly were the forebears of the Bluefield Lillys.

David’s son, Phillip Thompson Lilly, married Ruby Sergent of Roanoke County, Va. Their son, Phil, was well-respected as a trial lawyer. His son, Princeton attorney Thomas Sergent Lilly, married Sandy Smith, daughter of his late senior law partner Ira Mason Smith. They have two sons Smith Lilly and Wyatt Lilly.

The Tom Lilly family train and exhibit American Saddlebred horses on the old Mercer Healing Springs farm near Athens. In addition, Wyatt Lilly owns and operates the “Cheap Thrills” record store on Stafford Drive.

Another recent Lilly, Dr. Scott and his brother, Dr. Richard Lilly, a dentist, are the sons of dentist and long-time Bank of Athens president Dr. Donzie Lilly.

Jim Bob Lilly said his cousin Cecil sounded like he had “swallowed a dictionary.”

Jim Bob was raised in the big house but was born in a white cottage at the mill dam. His grandmother had the big house torn down. Miller Bob died in the white cottage while his wife Virginia Gore Lilly died in the big house nearer the main road. That house was later torn down by his aunt Virginia because of termites which were never found after it was down.

Jim Bob Lilly lived his life at the Spanishburg Mill Dam farm. He took farm produce to Bluefield to sell to private customers, including the wife of Judge Maynard. He remembered the judge as well as former Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Howard B. Lee.

The mill dam was a favorite gathering place for church picnics for which he and “Nick Bowling” built changing cottages for dressing into bathing suits.

Lilly recalled the wagon roadway from the mill dam to Hinton by way of Camp Creek Mountain, then down Mountain Creek out Farley Ridge to Dunns. It then went to Ellison Ridge then down a steep hill to Suck Creek junction with the Little Bluestone to the Lilly Village and on down the Bluestone Road to True.

From there, the road went to Hinton along the New River before the road was eliminated by the creation of Bluestone State Park and the Bluestone Dam.

Later, he travelled over Flat Top Mountain and over Ellison Ridge to the Lilly Village.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at

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