The "Halsey Ferry" Tree

In the winter of 2015, a favorite shade tree for the extended family of Patricia Divine, blew down. The tree, a black walnut, grew and died just below the old Field’s Dam in Mouth of Wilson, VA.

This is when Don Call and Scott Jackson-Ricketts first joined forces, and the conversation behind creating a consortium was hatched. This walnut tree was larger than inspiring, an important gift, and the setting along the New River, idyllic.

It took three days to set up, slab, and clean the site. Don hauled his Lucas Mill (http://www.lucasmill.com/) to the site, which was Scott’s first experience with this remarkable tool. The weather was perfect for all three days, which gave us time to carefully choose where to block the tree and how to determine the best slab thicknesses. Decisions were made in real time as each reveal instructed us.

As is Don’s smart habit, prior to working a tree, he runs a weed-eater around the base and into the field of operation. A surprise awaited us at the base, that even the land owners new nothing of: a large cable wrapped around the trunk…one large enough in diameter to handle a transport ferry. There are several known spots along the New in our area with cables still dangling from various large, old, stately trees. This one though, required some research and local inquiry.

The current family who owns and vacations on this land is very interested in the history of Mouth of Wilson and the surrounding properties. We solicited their assistance in putting the stories together, while simultaneously reaching out to investigators associated with The Grayson County Historical Society (http://www.graysonvahistsoc.com/). Following is a summation of their work as pertains to this particular spot and what was once an active ferry crossing:

From The Grayson County Bicentennial Book

“The New River has created a challenge through the years in traveling from one community to another. In the 1700’s and early 1800’s fords were the usual places that the river was crossed unless the traveler was on foot, then he could make use of a flat bottom boat. High-water and hard winter freezes made travel impossible or, at least, delayed travel. Camping near the river was sometimes necessary until the waters receded before continuing on.”

“The ford and ferry below Mouth of Fox Creek has been called several different names. On [the] 1897 map it is listed as Halsey Ferry. It was call[ed] the John Delp Ford and Ferry. The last known name was Anderson Ferry. The crossing was from Fox to Fox Knob and Potato Creek Community.”

It is Logjam’s intention to provide such documentation along with each piece of furniture or slab when the history is significant. Patricia and her daughter are currently gathering more information to be shared later. It will be another year before this walnut harvest will be dry enough to play with, but at that time, many projects of wonder will emerge. Stay tuned!