Ever the story teller, my great Uncle Leonard Lineberry, shared some old family stories one day when he was visiting his siblings in Oklahoma City during the late 1980s. Uncle Leonard, who lived most of his life in Carroll County, Virginia, was very interested in genealogy and the Lineberry history. The story of the old iron forge and Jacob P. Lineberry (1806-1887) is one of several we hear on a 36 minute audio recording made during his visit. (To hear the full 36 minute audio recording by Leonard, click the mp3 image at the end of this post.)
This Jacob, then, had an old iron forge down on Crooked Creek near his home and they would be down in this county with their ox wagon and dig out this very low grade iron ore and evidently this forge, there on the Crooked Creek, was in operation probably before 1850. They headed down across the creek there these large timbers were operated by water power and, of course they go down in this county there it must have been a distance of 30 or 40 miles and dig this old ore out, it was pretty close to the surface. Dig it out by hand, load it up in those wagons and bring it on up to there to the forge. Then they would go up in the hills and cut down oak trees and split the wood and stand it up on end then begin to burn it. When it began to burn they would cover it up earth so it would burn into charcoal and they would use that as their fuel. Smelting ore. When it was melted and everything they’d get it out there and use, use those hammers one of them weighed 700 pounds and the other one 350 pounds and the water powered would bring those hammers up got up so high and down they would they would come down on this iron beat them out shapes, desired shapes they would like. People would come in from miles around with their oxen and horses and everything just to see the operation of this because it was such an unusual operation and something new that the people around had never seen anything like. Of course, when they’d go up to that hit that hot iron sparks would fly all of the tar nation and scare man and best alike.
During the Civil War they were conscripted to make iron to a certain specifications for the Confederate forces then after they were made them they had to put them on the wagon and carry them in to work a distance of some 40 to 50 miles, they had to go and had cross the river, a New River, and geologists tell us that New River is the world’s second oldest river, cross that river on a plank head over to the railroad station there in ?, the nearest railroad.
…a few years after the Civil War in the year of 1877, came a large flood down there and washed all the dam away and those 2 hammers down the creek and they stayed there until WWII when a cousin, Ernest Lineberry, got them out and sold as scrap iron. Wouldn’t they have been a fine addition to any museum. I don’t know how they got them out but they did and sold them for scrap iron.
Here’s the link to download the transcript of the audio, in pdf. If you notice errors or if you can understand some of the parts that I could not, please let me know.
I have just begun verifying the information within this audio and have been able to verify several of the facts. I have not found information on a water-powered iron forge. However, Wesley Bird Lineberry, son of this Jacob, said in one of his letters that he was “born in Carroll County, Virginia near the old ‘Lineberry Forge’ on Crooked Creek, February 15, 1845”. I have found that there were many forges, Lineberry mines and mills but as of yet I haven’t found this mentioned. If anyone has information on this please let me know. When I learn more, I’ll update this post.
Another of Jacob’s great, great grandson’s, Tom, provided the following information: Jacob IV (who married Piety Smith) is listed in the 1870 Carroll County census as a hammerer of iron. The old forge was located on lower Crooked Creek at Hebron. Some of the locals indicate that they know the exact spot apparently there is nothing there now. Two of the Old Forge hammers are located in the Harmon Museum in Woodlawn, Virginia along with a lock chain they state was made there. The hammers appear to weigh between 200 and 500 lbs. The following comment is found with the hammers in Harmon’s Museum: ‘The Lineberry’s were early settlers on Chestnut and Crooked Creeks. About 1810 they built the Lineberry Forge and Blacksmith Shop on lower Crooked Creek. The family operated it for many years. These hammers were found near the sight of the old forge.’