The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Leonard M. Addington - A Country Gentleman

By Anne Goode Cooper © 1992

Issue: July-August-September, 1992

Author's Note: The Copper Creek section of Scott County, Virginia is located near Nickelsville. To reach this area, travel west on Highway 58 from Bristol, Virginia to Gate City and turn right at Gate City on Route 71.1t will be 13 miles to Nickelsville. To reach the Addington Frame Church, turn left in Nickelsville on Route 68. Pass Brush Mill and go one-half mile and turn left on Road 678. Go 3 miles to the church. The cemetery where Leonard M. Addington was buried is in the church yard and his birthplace is under the hill behind the church. The church is on Copper Creek.

Addington Frame Community has always been known as the birthplace of many prominent people. The deep valleys and steep hills have been the stomping ground of many, and finally nearing the end, it has been the final resting place for many who claimed the valleys and ridges and creek banks as their home.

In 1873, just a stone's throw over the cliff from Addington Frame Church and on the bank of Copper Creek, a son was born to J.C. Addington and his wife Martha Frazier Addington. They named their new son Leonard Monroe Addington.

It was among the four seasons, the heat of summer, the briskness of fall, the cold of winter and the chill of spring that he played on the cliffs, roamed the ridges and enjoyed the water of old Copper Creek. There he enjoyed the carefree days of home and the leisure of being a child growing up in the wilderness of home. He listened to the many sounds of wild animals and birds as they broke the silence with their shrill calls of love, distress or disaster. At night the ridge was filled with the many different sounds of various animals that made their home in the woods surrounding the house.

In 1877, when Leonard was 4 years old he was taken by his parents to the Old Addington Frame Church where the Centennial Dinner was held for Charles Cromwell Addington, who was celebrating his 100th birthday. The great, great, grandfather of Leonard M. Addington rode in a wagon from his home to the church. He refused help out of the wagon and alighted out on his own. There were over 1,000 people in attendance and the table, which was filled with a bountiful supply of food, was over 200 feet long.

Charles Cromwell Addington who had over 500 immediate relatives got a switch and kept some of the grandchildren from jumping on the table. He then jumped upon the table himself and cracked his heels together three times. He was very active for 100 years old and Leonard M. Addington spoke of the dinner for as long as he lived because he was a mere youngster of four.

Leonard grew up in a time when there were no clocks to punch, and the only schedules to be met were those that were set by nature. The Addington Frame Community was a prosperous region and it would return a good living for those who used it well and farmed her rich fertile fields and creek banks. Each family provided for its own needs and the J.C. Addington family was no different. Each person in the family, young and old alike, shared in supporting the household. Work was the center of family life and leisure time was a premium to be cherished. Time swiftly passed and Leonard became old enough to attend school. He had to walk the distance from his house to Saratoga School where he began and ended his formal education. The school began in mid-August and closed at Christmas, therefore, he left home early and returned late. He carried his lunch to school in an oak split basket or a bucket. Lunch would consist of whatever was left over from the evening meal or an egg and biscuit which was left over from breakfast.

Time swiftly passed and Leonard grew into manhood. He worked the farm and helped of the land; but as most men he began to have the desire to roam to greener pastures where more money could be made. So he and his cousin, Van Addington, set out for Illinois. There they found a job in the wheat fields and on the farms. They were paid a certain salary, found a boarding house where they could sleep and be furnished 3 meals plus laundry for their clothes. They worked there for a while and news came around that the Spanish American War was looking for volunteers to enlist. Leonard Monroe Addington enlisted in the Spanish American war on November 26, 1898. In 1938, Leonard M. Addington wrote his account of some incidents of the war. He entitled it, "The Trip Around The World," and the following is what Mr. Addington had to say...

Company E. 4th U.S. Infantry was first Regular U.S. Army to sail to the Orient. We left Ft. Sheridan near Chicago, Feb. 1899, and sailed from New York City on transport, Grant. Before sailing, president William McKinley came on board the ship with honor and greetings for the important voyage to be made through by the great nations of Europe.

On reaching Gibraltar, English officers and soldiers of fine appearance came out in boats and greeted the safe arrival of the ship on the other side of the Atlantic. The battles of Santiago and Manila had been fought and foreign ships turn to tramp vessels on the high seas for the first time in the history of the U.S., dipped their flags. The American flag, in return salute, was always lowered almost to touch the water.

We sailed through the Red Sea and saw the place, a narrow place in the sea, where the Children of Israel crossed. To show the exact place a pile of rocks marked the spot, projecting into the sea.* Near the entrance to Suez Canal the captain of a large English merchant vessel hailed us in passing. "They are fighting like hell over there." Sure enough when near our destination we could hear bullets hitting in the water.

On arriving at Manila the American soldiers threw overboard their large palm hats made of cork. The hats presented a unique scene floating so extensively on the water like great flocks of waterfowls. The native Philippino succeeded in capturing many of them, and wore them.

*We saw freight cars running with sails along the Suez Canal, the road being level, and the winds severe.

A typhoon struck heavily the evening and night before sailing homeward and drops of rain, or falling water, were as large as marbles. Some 1800 tents of the army were blown down regardless of all the soldiers could do to prevent it. The sea was unusually choppy. Soon after embarking a second typhoon came which struck the ship U.S. transport, Sheridan, while we were sailing in China Sea. It was so terrific the ship's rudder was finally blown away. The ship rolled and plunged into the sea knocking all things loose on deck or on the ship helter-skelter. At one time we had just started to dine and all at once mess table and all crashed to one side of the ship. The ship over 700 feet long and over 80 feet wide lurched and was utterly uncontrollable because of the storm winds and waves. The captain of the boat who had sailed the Orient 40 years said the typhoon and storm was the worst he had ever seen.

We reached port at Nagasaki, Japan, and were delayed many days. A rudder was ordered and after its arrival the ship was gotten in good repair after which we sailed the mighty pacific safely - It sure was some journey on water. We landed and were disbanded at Angels Island, Calif., a very beautiful place, and were thankful to be back again in the beloved U.S.A. I crossed the American continent by train viewing many of its wonderful sceneries to my home and birth place in Virginia.

Leonard M. Addington received an honorable discharge dated Nov. 25, 1901. It was signed by Tuely McCrosa. The discharge stated that his character was excellent and his service was honest and faithful.

He returned to Illinois where he courted and married his first wife, Minnie Wilson. They were married on Dec. 2, 1902 and to this union were born three children. Thomas L., Leonard Monroe, and Delmar Rosewell Addington. The family lived in Danvers, Illinois for several years before moving to Phoenix, Arizona because of the failing health of Mr. Addington. He had asthma and thought the warm dry climate would help him.

He founded the Big 4 Transfer Company in Phoenix and lived there for several years, but his wife died and his health kept declining so he retired, turned the business over to his son and moved back to the state of his birth, the state he cherished as a young man and also as a soldier. He came home to old Virginia.

When he returned to his native home he moved in with Sam and Mamie Addington who occupied the homeplace where he was born and reared.

When he came home to Virginia one of the first places he visited was the grave site of his mother. She was buried in the Copper Creek Cemetery which is known today as the Addington Frame Cemetery. The land had been donated for a cemetery by his daddy, J.C. Addington. The first person to be buried in the cemetery at Addington Frame Church yard was Leonard Addington's mother, Martha Frazier Addington. He met with much disappointment when he visited the cemetery because it had grown up into a wilderness He could not stand the sight so he began clearing the land and planted the first shrubbery inside the cemetery. The shrubs he planted are still growing gracefully and large today.

It was in the community that he grew into manhood in that he returned as an older man. Here he met, courted and married Lola Dell Addington and they settled in the house with her parents, L.J. and Ollie Addington.

To this union was born three children: John L., Polly H. and Paul C. Addington.

Leonard loved his children very much and taught them to witness nature's beauty. But as his body began to grow frail he observed nature from the chair on his front porch, but he saw just as much. Many times he would tell his children of things he had seen in past years and marvel at the miracles he had witnessed; but he always insisted that one thing would never change and that was their capacity to love one another would always endure. One special thing he taught his children and that was never to overlook even the smallest details in God's creation.

The eldest son, John L., was born February 28, 1939. He grew up a happy child with eyes that always held a hint of laughter and mischief. He always kept his mother busy with his curious nature and few things ever escaped his attention. He entered Saratoga School and attended there for seven years under the teaching of Lula Fletcher. John L. recalls on many occasions that he and other boys were sent to the spring to get drinking water for the day, as they passed Mayda Kilgore Addington's house she would give them cookies to eat. They would arrive back to the school with dirty water and on a few occasions they would have to return to the spring for fresh water.

Upon completion of the 7th grade John L. went to Midway School where he graduated in 1955. He was only 16 when he graduated so he worked on the farm and helped his parents out until he was old enough to enter service. He joined the Air Force on June 1, 1959 and retired as a Tech Sgt. on May 1, 1983. He served 20 years in the service, but not straight time. On two different occasions he came out and re-entered.

John L. has two children, a son and a daughter and one grand-daughter.

The second child born to this union was a daughter whom they named Polly. She was born Dec. 24, 1942, the only daughter born to either of Leonard M. Addington's marriages, and being the only daughter she was very special. She was taught that by watching her Daddy watch the world that the most important lesson in life was in the art of observation, and through observation she learned life offered many unlimited wonders.

Polly attended Saratoga School for one year and was a student of Lula Fletcher. She attended Midway School for seven years and graduated from Gate City High School in 1961. She was always a brilliant student and excelled in her classes.

Polly married her childhood sweetheart, Barnett McConnell, Jr. their friendship had always been special and they became friends the moment they met and spent much time together when they were youngsters.

Polly and Barnett, Jr. presently live in Nashville, Tennessee where Barnett, Jr. works at the Veterans Hospital at Vanderbilt University and Polly runs a day care center from inside her home. Polly with her warm brown eyes makes an excellent, kind day care worker and the children return her kindness with their love. Polly and Barnett, Jr. have three children; one son, and two daughters.

Paul C. Addington, the third and last child born to Leonard M. and Lola Dell Addington graced this world on a cold 10th of Jan. day 1945. A new baby always brings much joy and happiness into a home and Paul was no different.

He began his education at Midway School and attended there for 8 years before he entered Nickelsville High School and graduated in 1964. Paul entered the U.S. Army on Oct. 12, 1965 and took his basic training at Fort Gordon, Georgia and entered Medics training at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.

On March 24, 1967, Paul was sent to Vietnam. There he received many traumatic experiences that will linger with him for as long as he lives. He was a medic at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital in Long Bein, Vietnam. There he was exposed to all types of suffering and pain and death. Paul served his time and exactly one year to the day March 24, 1967, he reached his native soil of the good old U.S.A.

He worked at Holston Valley Hospital and Holston Defense and began work at Tennessee Eastman Company in 1975. He is presently with T.E.C. in the Organic Chemical Dept.

Paul C. Addington is a good Samaritan in the community and is always eager to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. An avid historian on Scott County and the Addington Family, Paul has time for everyone.

Paul has three sons, two of which as twins, and two grandsons.

Leonard M. Addington was a kind, generous man and eager to help his fellow man. He was a community man and kept the Addington Frame Cemetery clean for as long as he lived. He was always young at heart and seemed much younger than his years.

He owned one of the finest cars in the area, a 1939 Dodge, and he loved to take his family visiting. They all enjoyed the togetherness and being a part of a happy family.

There is nothing like the simple pleasure of walking slowly on the gravel road in the quiet morning as the fog would lift off Old Clinch Mountain and the ridge below. Everyday when the weather was pretty, Leonard M. Addington would walk to Farrell Addington's store to get the mail. He would walk back through the ridge by Charles Enix house and up the ridge to Saratoga School and back across the swinging bridge and up the creek to the old home place. This took the bigger part of the day because he would stop and visit with neighbors as he passed by their houses.

At night he would sit on the porch and listen to the dogs on yonder ridge as they chased the foxes. Many nights he would take his dogs and go into the ridge and hunt until the early morning hours. He was an avid hunter and raised fox hounds. On many occasions it would take close to a week to get his dogs home and this would be by the use of a fox horn.

The old homeplace had a magic all its own. Everyone was happy and death had not yet visited the home, but the evening of time was coming upon the scene and no one realized it as of yet. The children were busy at play in the same area and within a short distance of Leonard Addington's birthplace. They played and trod the same paths that he did as a child.

Leonard was busy building a new kitchen and bedroom on to the old homeplace. Shortly thereafter tragedy struck. Leonard had a severe stroke and it left him unable to move, speak or feed himself. He was unable to care for himself in any way and he would be bedridden for the rest of his life.

Everyone in the household had to do his or her share of the chores. Ollie Addington was a great help to her daughter as she helped with the cooking, cleaning and the children. The bond of love was not broken by sickness, but it seemingly grew tighter.

There was much sadness for everyone but there appeared to be a special love for one another as they cured each other's lonesomeness. The family prayed daily for guidance and healing for their daddy and husband. Lola Dell worked hardest because she wanted to be a devoted mother to her three children, no matter how hard the task she always took time out to listen to her children. Although she never complained, many times the hurt and sadness would show in her eyes. She was a God fearing woman and took her children to church every service. If she couldn't go she would send her children with her mother, Ollie Addington. She instilled in her children the fear of God and the love of family and to always be kind to their fellow man.

The passage of time went so fast and on a cold February night Lola Dell Addington entered John L. and Paul's room where they were sleeping. She awoke the boys and spoke in a soft low voice as she said, "Your daddy died during the night." The children had to face the fact of losing a loved one and they needed all the courage and strength that they could muster.

Lola Dell had always been a strong person, but the hurt was written all over her face and her eyes showed the sadness of death; but she knew she must draw extra strength from God to help her to be strong for her children.

Leonard M. Addington lived a full, fruitful 84 years and was buried in the Addington Frame Church Cemetery near his beloved mother.

So each year at the May Meeting at Addington Frame Church his widow, Lola Dell Addington, can be seen making her way slowly through the iron gates into the cemetery where she places a bunch of flowers on the grave of the man she loved, Leonard Monroe Addington.

Editor's Note: Ann Goode Cooper has written a book, "Mountain Remembrances" to be published by Overmountain Press the end of September. If you would like more information about obtaining a copy of her book, write: Ann Goode Cooper, Route 1, Box 160, Hiltons, VA 24258.