More than two centuries ago, the pursuit of liberty, independence and equality ignited a movement among ordinary men that continues to shape the world. This particular fight for freedom, involved more than 250,000 husbands, fathers, sons and brothers, affecting the lives of several million more parents, wives and children.
The "shot heard round the world" was fired on April 19, 1775, commencing the war for American Independence. It ended eight and a half long years later on September 3, 1783 with the Treaty of Paris. Dave Poole, the area marketing manager for Wonder Works in Pigeon Forge not only knows this American history, he is also very aware of his family’s role in it.
During the early days of the Revolution, three brothers, George, John and Benjamin Lewis joined the Continental Army. Serving under George Washington, they each rose to the rank of captain. Luckily, they all survived the many bloody battles and grueling campaigns on their way to winning the independence we still enjoy.
Because there were so few monetary assets on hand when the war ended, the state governments awarded bounty lands to citizens and soldiers alike for services rendered. This involved the exchange of land for military service. The amount of land earned was based on rank. As captains, each of the Lewis brothers were granted 1000 acres. George and John settled in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, while Benjamin, eventually to author the first documented history of Virginia, headed for Kentucky.
In 1787, John built a two story log home for his family which was later renovated and relocated by his grandson, John Lewis in 1903. Earlier, at the age of 17, this John and his 1st cousin George joined the Army of Northern Virginia led by Robert E. Lee in 1861. George was tragically killed during the Battle of Kingsport two years later. Then, while fighting with Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley, John was captured by Union forces, spending the last four months of the Civil War in a Yankee prison camp.
Pardoned soon after Lincoln’s assassination, young John returned home only to find severe poverty and his hometown in ruins.
Unable to scratch a living out of Greenbrier County, in 1867, he kissed his childhood sweetheart Hanna goodbye and boarded a clipper ship bound for the west coast. To earn enough money to revive his family home, he would spend more than a decade in California raising sheep and teaching school. Upon his return 12 years later, he found Hanna waiting for him. Together they rebuilt their lives, made a home and raised a family.
In time, John Lewis’ grandson’s great grandson, John David Poole III was born on September 22, 1962. With three younger sisters, he is the oldest of his parents’ four children. An officer in the Future Farmers’ Association and starting linebacker for the football team, Poole graduated from Greenbrier High School in 1981. He then accepted a football scholarship from Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, Illinois. But, after a knee injury during his 2nd year, Dave left school and joined the US Marines. Four years later, Cpl. Poole returned home with a duffle bag filled with stories he is still not allowed to share.
Today, Dave Pool lives in Sevier County with his wife Jamie and their son Austin. Having spent much of his life there, sadly, the family farm that John Lewis built is no longer in the family. Nevertheless, the magical times Dave spent there taught him at an early age that he will always be part of a living history that comprises a great American tale.
Henry Piarrot is a lodging manager in Sevier County, TN. Please send all story recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org