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Piney Flats' DeVault died in 1903 at 92

Bob Cox • Sep 25, 2017 at 12:00 PM

On June 23, 1903, surrounded by his living children in his beautiful home two miles west of Johnson City, 92-year-old Isaac DeVault of Piney Flats, took his final breath.

His death was not unexpected; still, he had no specific disease. His passing was said to be the result of a break in his health. In actuality, he descended from a line of healthy, long-lived family people.

His German-born grandfather settled in Little York, Pennsylvania, 40 miles from Baltimore. After the Western settlement of North Carolina, he visited this country and purchased one square mile of land on the Watauga River, paying 900 English shillings for it.

The same territory contained the present home of Valentine DeVault, the brother of the deceased, and was known as the DeVault Ford Farm on the Watauga River. DeVault Sr. gave this farm to Frederick and Valentine, his sons.

The family name then was DeVault and later Dewalt. Coming to this country about the same time (1790) were the Kitzmiller and Keefauver families.

Martin Kitzmiller settled on Boones Creek in Washington County; Nicholas Keefauver on Buffalo Ridge, same county; and Frederick DeVault at Leesburg, same county. Gabriel DeVault inhabited "The Fork" at about what is now known as the Cross Settlement.

Isaac DeVault came into this world on Nov 27, 1811. He was born a farmer and enjoyed his craft all of his life. The gentleman was large in stature, being 6 foot, 2.5 inches tall and weighing about 200 pounds.

He was robust in health and continued to be so, living to a ripe age of 92. He was of an inquiring mind, above average in intelligence, strong in his convictions of right and wrong and having unwavering Christian principles.

DeVault's entire life was of a high standard of exalted American manhood, worthy of emulation. He died with a long, useful life to his credit and nothing to his discredit. During his years, he developed a lively interest in public affairs.

In 1844, the Piney Flats native rode on horseback to Winchester, Virginia, the closest railroad point, and went from there to Philadelphia to hear Daniel Webster speak. He visited the principal eastern cities and Niagara Falls.

In 1847, he married Mary E. Hannah, whose home was near Middletown, now known as Bluff City, building a comfortable home one mile east of the paternal residence. He had been known far and wide as one of the most prosperous and hospitable farmers of East Tennessee.

From his marriage with Miss Hannah, he was blessed with five children, all of whom grew to manhood and womanhood: Richard; Julie (Mrs. Prather of Mt. Airy, NC); James M., citizen of Bristol; Blanche, wife of Charles P. Faw; and Rufus.

Isaac was a devoted father who followed with a keen interest even to his dying day, the well-being and doing of his children. He was a member of the Methodist Church, South. He was broad and charitable in his opinions and a man of much patience with someone of ignorance. As through advancing years, his body continued strong; the acuteness of his mind and memory were superb.

For a little while after his children had grown up and left the nest, he rented his farm and visited with his children. However, this arrangement, while pleasant, was not satisfactory. He and his son-in-law, Charlie Faw, returned to the old house and there, ever cheerful and ever cherished by his daughter and her husband, his life became one of peace and quiet happiness.

His three little grandsons, Isaac, Willie and Harry Faw, were a great source of comfort and companionship to him. It was there that his life ended after having lived through the most eventful time in modern history.

Railroad engines, the electric telegraph and steamboats were unknown when he was born. However, the great Civil War and his preceding political eruptions were current history with him. He was permitted to see and experience more than most men.

Mr. DeVault was laid to rest beside the ashes of his ancestors and kindred at the family burying ground by the old home place. His obituary notice concluded with these pointed words: "Peace to His Ashes and Sympathy to His Children."


Reach Bob Cox at [email protected] or go to www.bcyesteryear.com.

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