, eldest son of John & Marinda Vicars, was born in Richmond, Virginia, April 20, 1813 and dies near Point Truth, Russell County, VA, January 27, 1896 in the 83 year of his age.
His parents moved to Russell County while he was in his early infancy, where his father settled down to farm life.He early developed a great thirst for knowledge.He was able to read in his fourth year.He eagerly read all the books that were accessible to him.By the time he was ten years of age he had so advanced in education that his services were often eagerly sought after by many of the early settlers to draw up instruments of writing for them, which by aid of forms in his possession he performed in great skill and accuracy.In his fifteenth year he removed with his parents to Scott County, VA, where two years after, his father died, leaving him with an invalid and widowed mother and a family of ten children as cares upon his hands.He at once set to work to provide for the support of the family, the education of the children and to pay off the indebtedness of the estate.In order to do this he taught school during the winter months and worked on the farm the remainder of the year.He was this enabled to keep all the children together, also to furnish them with books and to keep them in school much of the time.He rapidly developed a strong mind and retentive memory.The science of Mathematics, so for as it was taught in the schools of his part of the state was easily and thoroughly mastered.He wrote a Key t Pike’s Arithmetic in the 20th year of his age which was regarded as remarkably accurate and which was used by many teachers so long as Pike’s Arithmetic were used as text books in the schools.
The death of his mother, which occurred in his 23rd year, was a severe blow to him.He loved her with all the love and adoration known to the heart of an affectionate and dutiful son.He now felt appalled by the great responsibility that rested upon him.The family now left entirely in his care was large and expensive and had developed somewhat of a wayward disposition.He sought every means to hold the family together.Having great confidence in the power of education he put forth still greater efforts to educate each and every member of the household.
It now became apparent to his mind that the farm left by his father was too small and unproductive to produce an amount sufficient to properly support the family.He therefore began to cast about for more lucrative employment for himself than working on a farm and teaching school.Knowing that he had relatives in Tennessee he resolved to visit them, in the hope that some of the good fortune which come to them might be shared by himself.Knowledge gained by former experience was now of great benefit to him as many opportunities presented themselves which he turned to good account.Being successful to some degree he returned home and after administering to the wants of the family, he resolved again to "go west".This Time he visited an uncle near Montgomery, Alabama, who was very rich and owned many slaves that were worked in the cotton fields.He was offered a lucrative position as overseer of the slaves and business of the large plantation from which he could soon have amassed the amount of money he was desirous of obtaining at the time, but refused because of the great cruelties practiced upon the slaves.These cruelties were so extreme they made deep and lasting impressions upon his mind that his heart was ever afterwards in sympathy of the race. After visiting many places in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky, he again returned home to look after the welfare of the family.Remaining at home for only a short while, he again "went west".Arriving in Tennesseeat the time that the Seminole or Florida war broke out he enlisted in the United States army and fought with bravery and distinction until the close of the war.He then went on that ever memorable "Drive" that carried the Indians forever beyond the Mississippi.
Two years of constant exposure on the battlefield, in the swamps of Florida on the mountains of East Tennessee and North Carolina on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, and amid the snows of Illinois and Missouri, brought on a sever attack of fever.For many weeks he lay at Fort Scott, Kansas in the very jaws of death.This dire illness came on just as the terrible journey which he had made was ended and so severe and continuous was it he found on his recovery that his money was almost exhausted.As soon as his health had been sufficiently restored to admit of his traveling he went to Vicksburg, Natches and New Orleans and engaging in business for a time in each of these cities, he soon amassed a considerable fortune.Laying it all out in Merchandise, he placed his goods on board a merchant vessel intending to go to Richmond, Virginia and engage in the mercantile business.On the second day’s voyage the vessel was captured by a pirate, and all on board were put into the hold of the pirate ship in which they were kept for 30 days, then in the darkness of the night they were out on shore about fifty miles below New Orleans, hungry, weak, and penniless.He then made his way to Middle Tennessee and spent a short time with an uncle there.After accumulating some money and contracting for a fine body of land, paying part of the purchase price he returned again to Virginia.On his return he found that during his long absence, human fiends had been sowing the seed of discord among those whom he had left at home, which he set about with all diligence to remove.
Soon after his return to Virginia he married UNITY DORTON, the daughter of (John Dorton & Nancy Fugate) a most estimable and intelligent andChristian gentleman of considerable worth.He now renewed his energies and put forth his strongest efforts to bring and hold his father’s children together, and to inculcatein them useful habits of life.He removed in a few years to a newly acquired farm in Russell County, where he resided the remainder of his life.The year following his removal to Russell County he returned to Middle Tennessee and secured the title to his former purchase of land.Returning home he at once began making preparations for removal to the same but insurmountable difficulties thwarted his plans.So much delay had been occasioned thathe finally decided to make another personal visit too his land in Tennessee.The long journey, which was the fifth and last, was made on horseback, the mode of travel he ever employed.He found on his arrival there that delay had occasioned him the loss of the title to his land, under imperfect laws by which the government transacted its business.Characteristic of his nature he was not discouraged.He returned home, purchased more land near him and settled down to farm life.By industry and good management he was soon well and comfortably situated.
Knowledge which he had gained by reading, by travel and by experience, soon gained for him a reputation far and wide as a man of letters and a man of extensive and varied information.As a debater he had but few equals and no superiors anywhere.As a councilor and advisor he was sought by many.He had acquired a knowledge of law of the constitution and of the government, far beyond nearly all mean in his part of the state.
He was brought up in the Methodist Church; being baptized in infancy.He took great interest in opposing its division in 1844.
He took an active part in politic and opposed on high national principles the extension of slavery; and from the same standpoint he favored the extension of our northwestern boundary.In many public gatherings he warned the people against the evils of successions; showing them the impossibility of success of the cause.With great force and clearness he showed the fallacy of the argument of the agitators of succession, and tried to prevail upon the people not to take up arms against the Union.When the civil war came on he espoused the cause of the Union with all his powers.He braved every danger, underwent every fatigue to shield and protect those who refused to join the Confederate army.He was many times arrested and charged with being "a union man".He was several times tried and once sentenced to be shot.His escapes were most miraculous, when viewed from the fact that many charged with less offences were killed daily around him.In the spring of 1864, he was compelled to go to the border of Tennessee.As the enemy was on every hand and with hostile and revengeful eyes were watching his every move, he too his eldest daughter (Ketura), a girl of seventeen years with him, that he journey might be more successfully made.As h was returning on April 9, in an effort to cross a much swollen and rapid stream, his daughter was drowned, and he miraculously escaped death, being taken from the water as dead.
During the four years of war, he stood firm in his principles, though danger fell thick and fast around him and by the aid of a divine Providence he lived through them all.After peace had been restored he was one of the few mean in his county that could take the oath required by the government in order to hold office, which he did.In all the numerous and important National questions that now came up he took a leading part; ever assuming a well defined and prominent position.He was at all times fearless and outspoken in his view a and sentiments; espousing the cause of the Republican party with all his mind and strength.In defending his position his reasonings were clear and his arguments invincible.
His party selected him as its choice to represent his country in the convention that framed the constitution of the state in the year 1869, but he gave way to the persuasion of another.In 1871, he was nominated for the State Senate, but a division in his part caused his defeat.His party then fell into the minority, save I his own district.Though he lent his aid at all times to his people he seldom held an office above that of Magistrate; but in his capacity he most ably and faithfully served for a many years and was acknowledged by all to be the most competent man in the district for the position.
Soon after the war began to take a deep interest in the re-organization of the M.E. Church.He invited the ministers of that church to preach in his house, where for a few years they held their regular meetings, and organized one of their first classes of which he was a member, securing the first opportunity to again unite with the church of his choice, in which he henceforth lived a consistent member.His whole desire seem to be for the prosperity of the church; self interest being almost forgotten.He was a companion of the preachers, ever seeking to administer to their wants.The great aid he lent to the ministers and the comfort he brought to their homes will only be recorded above.He was ever a faithful ministering spirit to the poor and needy.No charitable object ever went hungry or destitute from his door.He often rode many miles to carry the necessaries of life to those who were in want.To lend a helping hand to the needy, to raise the fallen, to educate the poor, to spread the gospel and farther the cause of Christianity , intelligence and refinement; to dispel the evils of ignorance, darkness and superstition, was his constant desire and to this end did he labor during all his natural life.
As old age sought a more retired life.He built a more splendid mansion and lived more closely around the family circle.The Bible was his favorite book in his rather large library; reading it more and more as he grew in years.Disease which had come on him in middle life preyed with more terrible effect upon his system during the last twenty or more years of his life, yet he bore all his suffering with great patience, seeking resignation to his Maker’s will.In early manhood he possessed great physical power and action.His habits of industry and study never failed him.He was never idle, even in his latter years.His hand and his mind found constant employment.During all the years of his suffering that life was so tenacious, strength so enduring, mental powers so bright as to constantly excite the wonder and amazement of all who knew him.The year 1895 was about the same with him as any of the last twenty years preceding it.His time was spent in looking after domestic affairs, and in riding on horseback attending to business in the neighborhoods, when not engaged in reading.
January 1, 1896, the day that ushered in the month and the year that were his last on earth, dawned as full of brightness, life and hope to him as any New Year’s day had done for years in the past.About the 20 of the month cold was contracted, but it was not until the 24th that any notice was taken of it.During the last hours of that day great suffering set in, and despite all that could be done by medical skill and otherwise the disease defied every effort to remove it.During the early evening hours of the 26th all hopes of recovery were lost.After assuring his children and friends who stood around his bedside that all was peace within, and that he would soon into the blissful abode of the redeemed and the blood-washed above, calmly and peacefully he fell asleep in Jesus just as the morning was spreading its soft and radiant light over mountain, hilltop and valley at 7:30 a.m., January 27, 1896.Amid the tears of weeping children and friends his body was laid to rest in the grave January 29th 1896, at 3 O’clock p.m.Thus a along and useful life was ended, but its glorious influence will live on forever."And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto to me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their Labors; and their works."Rev. 14:13
All Labor o’er, all sorrow done,
Above the stars, above the sun
The ransomed spirit took its flight,
Just as the morn was dawning bright
The jasper walls, the streets of gold,
All heaven’s Beauties now unfold
In glories splendor to his eyes,
As through the pearly gates he flies.
The crown of life, the robe of white,
In all their dazzling beauty of bright
Are his forever more to wear.
With Christ and kindred spirits there.