Pocahontas County Bicentennial ~ 1821-2021

Richard Harry “Dick” Knapp, 1847 – Dec. 1889

The Pocahontas Times
January 9, 1890

Dick Knapp very mysteriously disappeared from his home near Edray a few weeks ago, and a short time after, was reported as being found dead in the woods: when a coroner’s jury was summoned and repaired to the scene it was found to be only a paddy with Dick’s clothes. Very conflicting reports have been circulated as to Knapp’s whereabouts, and it is believed by some that he has really been killed, though no apparent motive can be assigned.

The Pocahontas Times
January 16, 1890

The Paddy Mystery

Very nearly a hundred people attended the investigation, held by Justice Barlow at Edray, on Saturday the 11th, inst., in relation to the mysterious disappearance of one Dick Knapp “and the Coroner’s Jury Paddy.” Upon the examination of a number of witnesses, it was pretty well demonstrated that there had been foul play, and that Dick had been put out of the way. Further developments are anxiously looked for, as the whole country is aroused, and further investigation will be made. The justice failed to find who was the author of the Paddy Joke. On the 12th inst. between fifty and sixty men spent the day searching over Marlin’s Mountain for some sign or indication as to whether Knapp could be found, but failed, so far as we know, to find much, except that at one place near a rough laurel hollow quite a stench was smelled by some of the men, this place was examined partially, further investigation will be made. The famous bee tree was found, and the whole section searched, but little sign was found. It is now surmised that if Knapp was killed, that his body was taken to the river and sunk. More is known about this affair than has as yet been made public, and it is likely that other disclosures will soon be heard. It is strange that some parties keep out of sight.

The Pocahontas Times
February 6, 1890

A new trace of the missing R.H. Knapp has been found. It is now thought his body will be found soon. A reward of $75.00 is offered and it will have its effect.

The Pocahontas Times
January 11, 1894

About four years ago this month the mountains around Edray were filled with men hunting for the body of Dick Knapp, who was supposed to have been murdered. So much evidence accumulated that if the body could be found a remarkably strong case could be made against certain parties, and a reward of considerable amount was offered at that time for the body.

Last week some hunters found a grave on the east side of the river not far from the place where the piece of cloth, which was considered such a strong clue, was found. The grave was unmistakable, and was discovered by the fact that it had sunk in the ordinary way. It will be opened shortly.
To be continued…

Historical Sketches of Pocahontas County ~ 1901
By William T. Price


John Webb, the subject of this biographic article is a character about whom it may be said, as was said about Melchizedek, he was without father or mother – so far as any biographical purpose can be served. His Irish brogue and his habit of saying not foolish things and never doing anything very wisely, tended to corroborate what he always averred – that he was of Irish nativity. He had the papers showing that he was an honorably discharged soldier of the Revolution, and as a pensioner, received ninety-six dollars a year. How he ever came to Pocahontas is simply conjectural, but from the fact he chose his place of rest near Mount Zion, he must have had some acquaintance with parties that may have been in the army when he was.

This Revolutionary veteran, though he exposed his life for independence, never owned any land and never married. Yet he wanted a home of his own, a place where he could lay his head and feel at home, which was very commendable in him.

He received permission of William Moore, son of Pennsylvania John Moore, to use without rent as much land as he might want for a cabin, garden, and “truck patch.”

He built himself a cozy cabin, and opened up two or three acres, where he produced corn, vegetables and poultry. On this, he subsisted, with the assistance of his pension and such wages as he could earn in harvesting and haying for the farmers on Knapps Creek. This spot was on the place recently owned by Ralph Dilley, and now in the possession of William Moore…

In the later years of his life, John Webb was very piously inclined and was demonstrative of his religious emotions, and was long remembered as the life of many “good meetings” at old Mount Zion, Frost and elsewhere. He would frequently have “the jerks,” which was such a feature in the revival services so common at the time. As long as he lived he would always have a spasmodic jerk as he repeated the “amen,” even when asking a blessing on his meals…

John Webb remained in his bachelor home until he became disabled by the infirmities of advanced age. Then it was the late Martin Dilley, of revered memory, took charge of the old veteran. He built a very comfortable cabin for his use in the yard near his own dwelling, and cared for him until the old soldier ‘”fought his last battle” on the borders of the unseen world. This building is standing yet. His grave is in the Dilley Graveyard, on the line between the Andrew Dilley and John Dilley lands.

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