Pocahontas County Bicentennial ~ 1821-2021

An Old Mystery
The Pocahontas Times
October 5, 1899

One of the most extraordinary scenes ever witnessed in a courtroom took place at this court. Last spring, Enos R. Sharp testified that Scott Kelley or Scott Bowers had admitted that he had killed Dick Knapp, whose fate has been a mystery for the last ten years. A justice of the peace committed him to jail, and he was released at the June court, the evidence being considered insufficient to hold him.

Sharp attended this court as a witness before the grand jury, and was standing in the hall outside the courtroom.

Kelley came up the stairs with a horse whip in his hand and seeing Sharp attacked him with the whip. Sharp sought sanctuary in the presence of the Judge who was presiding in the court, and came running through the door into the bar, Kelley striking him terrible blows with the whip every step of the way. Kelley was leaping at every blow and the whip fairly whistled.

Forest Hill, Deputy Sheriff, jumped at Kelley and with the aid of several lawyers and bystanders got Kelley down and overpowered him. Kelley had every appearance of a lunatic. He was shouting and cursing that Sharp had sworn a lie against him. They hustled him off to jail. Sharp’s face was literally cut to pieces.

When brought before the Judge to be sentenced Kelley said he did not remember the occurrences of that day. He is not very bright at best. He said he had taken a drink or so.

He was given thirty days in jail for contempt of court.

“You couldn’t take it in money, could you, Judge?” he inquired.

“Have you got any money?”

“Well, no, but I might get some. And I’ve got a wife and five children, Judge, and they just ain’t got any house to live in. And when I come up the stairs that day, somebody hit me with a stick, you kin see the place, Judge, and I thought it was Sharp. He was the only man I saw and I thought he done it, Judge.”

“But you said you did not remember anything that occurred that day,” said the Judge.

He was trapped, but the prisoner was too dull to even see that he had contradicted himself. He is now serving out his sentence.

Sharp thought there was something back of Kelley’s attack on him, and he asked for peace proceedings against A. J. Hook, Amos Wooddell and Henry Rider. Hook and Rider came into court on an attachment awarded against them. But Wooddell had left for home. Hook gave bond to keep the peace especially so far as Enos R. Sharp is concerned, for one year. Rider has so far been unable to find a bondsman.

This trouble with Sharp is the outgrowth of a series of trials and accusations with which the people of the county are familiar.

The Pocahontas Times
September 24, 1903

A letter addressed to Dick Knapp, who mysteriously disappeared about 14 years ago, is advertised at the Marlinton post office.

The Pocahontas Times
April 1, 1915

Word was received here this morning, April 1st, that the bones of a man had been found by lumbermen cutting timber on Bear Tree Run, a tributary of Thorny Creek. The bones were said to have been found beside a large soggy log, and were discovered by the woodsmen when they started to cut the log. The bones were left as they were found, but a shoe was brought to the camp.

Twenty-three years ago, a man named Dick Knapp mysteriously disappeared in these woods and has not been heard of since.

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


Abram Burner, the progenitor of the Burner relationship in our county, was from the lower Valley, probably Shenandoah county. Soon after his marriage with Mary Hull, of Highland County, he settled on the Upper Tract, early in the century. Their children were Mary, Elizabeth, George, Jacob, Adam, Henry and Daniel.

Mary Burner became Mrs. George Grimes and lived near Mount Zion, in the Hills.

Elizabeth Burner was married to Hon. John Grimes, and lived in the Little Levels on the lands now owned by the county for an infirmary.

Jacob Burner married Keziah Stump, and settled in the western part of the State.

Adam Burner married Margaret Gillespie, one of Jacob Gillespie’s nine daughters at Greenbank, and settled in upper Pocahontas.

Daniel Burner married Jennie Gillespie, sister to Margaret. Daniel Burner was drowned near Peter Yeager’s in a deep eddy, during harvest and left one son, Joshua Burner.

Henry Burner met his death by drowning in the east fork of Greenbrier.

George Burner, eldest son of Abram, the pioneer, after his marriage with Sally, daughter of Andrew Warwick, settled on part of the Burner Homestead where the road crosses the east prong of the Greenbrier. Their children were Andrew, Enoch, Allen, Lafayette, Lee, Charles, Nancy, who became Mrs. William Wooddell; and Isabella, now Mrs. Lanty Slaven.

Enoch Burner married Rachel Ann Tallman and settled in Missouri.

Layfayette Burner first married Nannie Wooddell and lived on the upper Greenbrier. Second marriage with Caroline Gum.

Lee Burner married Rebecca Gum, daughter of William Gum and a sister to Caroline, and lived on the Upper Tract.

Allen Burner first married Elizabeth Price, daughter of James A. Price, of Marlins Bottom, and settled at Greenbank. Allen Burner’s second marriage was with Virginia Clark, of Parnassus, Augusta County, and he now resides at Cass. Lula and Emma Burner, well known teachers, are her daughters.

Hon. George Burner was a prominent citizen from the organization of the county. As noticed elsewhere, he was one of the first members of the county court. He represented the county several terms in the Virginia Legislature, and was a Jacksonian Democrat in his political proclivities, and strange to say, one of the original Pocahontas secessionists, so intense his devotion to State rights had become.

His second marriage was with Margaret Poage, daughter of George W. Poage, of the Little Levels.

more recommended stories