William Peery - Tazewell, VA

William Peery - Tazewell County, Virginia

(Thomas #1)

Notes for William Peery - 31 Jan 1995

A monument in honor of William Peery, pioneer settler, soldier in the Revolutionary War who donated 13 acres of Land for the establishment of the town of Jeffersonville, was erected in 1941 on the grounds of the high school building. The idea was started by Mrs. Annie Martin Peery and was sponsored by the Fort Maiden Spring Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. The principal speaker at the ceremonies was Governor George C. Peery, and the following are some of his remarks at that occasion.

The spirit of the pioneer asserted itself early in his life. At the age of 14 he, in company with Thomas Peery, John Peery and John Peery, Jr., in the year 1773 began their trek westward, and came to this Southwest country of ours. When they reached what is now Tazewell, their Scotch-Irish judgment and shrewdness asserted itself. They looked upon these valleys and hills and said to themselves how like the beautiful valley from which we came; this is a goodly land; and here shall we dwell. Other Peerys came later; and from this hardy Scotch-Irish stock have sprung the numerous members of the Peery clan, who inhabit this section of the Old Commonwealth.

William Peery was not only a public spirited citizen, doing his part of all worthwhile peace time activities, but he also did his part when sterner times and duties called to him for action.

In the spring of 1778 when the ownership of the Great Northwest Territory was in doubt, George Rogers Clark, a young Virginian, with the permission of Patrick Henry, then Governor of Virginia, enlisted a force of soldiers to go into that territory and wrest and hold it from the English. William Peery enlisted as a member of this Expedition.

Across the prairie this band of courageous soldiers marched, surprised the garrison at Kaskaskia and forced it to surrender.

They achieved another daring victory when they marched across the lowlands of Illinois in the dead of winter, some times in freezing waters waist deep, and at last came upon the fort at Vincennes, and completed its surrender in twenty-four hours.

Later we see William Peery at the battle of King's Mountain on October 7, 1780. He was a member of Lieutenant Ross Bowen's Company, who marched under the command of Col. Wm. Campbell. He was wounded in that battle.

Cornwallis, in command of the British forces in the South, had sent out a force Westward to rouse Tories to enlist: Instead of Tories, they aroused the sturdy Scotch-Irish mountaineers who won a brilliant victory over the British forces under command of General Ferguson.

Less than a year after King's Mountain, the battle of Guilford Court House was fought, and William Peery and his brother, John, were in that battle.

In this battle, the brother, John, received 54 sabre cuts, but survived. William Peery, after the battle, went in search of his brother, found him and took him back to camp and nursed him back to recovery. The record shows that a "Thomas Peery" was killed in this battle. What the relationship was between him and William Peery is not disclosed.

After victory came to the American Colonies in the Revolution, William Peery, along with other comrades, returned to this section, conquered the frontiers, builded homes, and contributed to the establishment of a government and civilization that has not yet been surpassed in history and that has been handed down to us through the years.

Following the period on the American Revolution, came years of peace, during which the new nation as a young giant developed and grew. Then came again the call to arms when the War of 1812 broke upon us, and to this call, William Peery, true to his record in the past, again responded.

In these services to his country, William Peery was remaining true to family tradition. It is of record that another William Peery, of Delaware, was a member of the Continental Congress and served with the rank of Major in the Revolutionary War.

And after William Peery had been gathered unto his Fathers, and the War Between the States burst upon us, his descendants and kinsmen became Soldiers of the Confederacy, some as officers, some as surgeons, and some as privates.

One direct descendant, whom the people of Tazewell will always honor, entered the service, became a captain, and after Gettysburg returned with an empty sleeve, mute evidence of his valor, his service and his sacrifice for his people of the South.

William Peery, after an eventful life of 71 years, died in July, 1830.

A unique and dramatic incident is recalled of one of the perilous experiences of William Peery, when on his return from Vincennes and having reached the point in Kentucky, where the City of Louisville now stands, he rode into the Ohio river to water his horse. While thus engaged, with nerves tense and gaze alert for danger, he searched the tangled river banks where, to his horror, he discovered the many eyes of a hostile band of Indians peering at him through the bush.

These savages were arrayed in head-dress and war paint--and perhaps while William Peery was saying what he thought might be his last prayers, for he was a pious man, a familiar voice rang out, "Is that you, Bill Peery?" This voice proved to be that of the notorious Simon Grity, who for some past kindness rendered him by William Peery, he now returned in kind by saving his life and giving him safe passage through the Indian country. But for this humane act by this traitor, William Peery would not now be sleeping on his peaceful Tazewell hills, which overlook the scenes of his boyhood adventures and the prosperous town of Tazewell, for which he gave the site.

Source: "Tazewell County," by Louise Leslie (Johnson City, Tennessee: Overmountain Press, 1982), pp. 209-211.

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