GABE Road the story of Gabriel Littlepage

©1990 Roane County Family History Committee LC # 90-71348

 

Gabe is just over the Roane County line, approximately twentyeight miles north of Charleston. It was named for Gabriel Littlepage. This is a rather imaginary treatment of the legend of Gabriel Littlepage. In its main facts, it is true. Gabriel Littlepage lived as the story states and died as it relates.

 

Gabriel made the journey to the Kanawha Salines to trade furs for salt once a year. At the Kanawha Courthouse he would stop long enough to barter ginseng for a supply of powder and lead. He would then set out into the forest up the Elk River.

 

Gabriel was a tall skeleton-thin old man and was always followed by a grey animal resembling a timber wolf. He wore deerskins like a hunter. His skins were not properly tanned, but raw deerskins laced together with thongs into shapeless clothing. His hair was neither cut nor combed and his beard was a long tangled mass. His appearance caused much curiosity. Some thought him to be a madman and maybe he was. He seldom spoke, but when he did his words and speech were those of a man of culture and refinement. He was said to be related to a prominent family in the Kanawha Valley. However, he never claimed any connection to this family.

 

Most people called him Old Gabe and refrained from voicing their curiosity. There were many stories as to why he became a hermit.

 

One story was that he had been in trouble with the law in the east. Another person had heard he had been greatly in love with a beautiful Virginia girl who had married someone else.

 

Others claimed his wife and children were killed in an Indian raid. It was agreed that some great guilt or tragedy must have unhinged his mind and turned him into the ghost like creature of the forest that he had become.

 

It was whispered that he was not a man at all, as his appearance never seemed to change. Some thought of him as a prophet because his appearance resembled the holy men of the past and he was well versed in the holy word. He spoke of those passages which dwell on the vengeance of God and on eternal punishment.

 

When he no longer appeared in the Kanawha Valley, everyone assumed that he must have died. Some believed he went to Satan and others to God. Many years later settlers began to move into the area where he had lived. One of the settlers found Gabriels shelter. It was by a little brook where a rock jutted from the hillside. He had cut saplings and leaned poles against the face of the rock and had banked earth against them.

 

He had lived like an animal in a den. In the shelter there was an axe, kettle, and a rusted long rifle. The rifle lay where it had fallen and there were bones near it, the bones of an animal, a large dog or wolf, which had been shot through the head. Animals had scattered the human bones but the skull was there. Upon examining the skull they found the top had been blown away. An ancient beech tree stood directly in front of the rock.

 

In beautiful lettering carved into the bark was the name Gabriel Littlepage, with the day, month, and year of his birth and death. With this was a strange reference to "Genesis4:13". This verse reads, "And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear". He was 80 years old the day he killed himself. People traveled from great distances to see the inscription and peer into the shelter. The bones had been gathered and buried by some thoughtful person. The tree stood for several years.

 

Then one night there was a strange storm as gusts of wind blew over the hills with low turbulent clouds. A great bolt of flame flashed down and the tree was splintered into kindling to its roots. This is said to have happened around 1870 on the anniversary of Gabriel Littlepage's birth and death. The roar of the thunderclap and shattering wood was heard to the head of Gabe.

 

The right-hand fork of Gabe has had many evidences of the supernatural. There are two houses there which in the past have suffered almost intolerable hauntings. Occasionally the sound of distant weeping can be heard. The face of Gabe's Rock has been blasted off to make way for a road. Many years have passed since Gabriel Littlepage killed himself and few remember how Gabe Creek received its name. The old man does not allow himself to be completely forgotten. A wolf-like creature may be seen and heard near Gabe's Rock yet today.