The new “Mrs. Headley” — Sarah Farley — was born on May 26, 1849 to William Floyd and Elizabeth Jane (Clark) Jones-Farley in Logan County, (West) Virginia. She was a full 21 years younger than Caleb’s oldest child and barely older than his youngest child by his first wife. Her grandfather was Captain Henry Farley, who led an Indian raid down the Guyandotte River through present-day Logan County in the early 1790s and was one of the county’s earliest settlers.
Caleb and Sarah Headley had the following children: Lat. Headley, born May 1, 1866, died before 1870; John Timothy Headley, born April 20, 1867, married Emaline Susan Sias then Emarine Elkins in 1930, died March 29, 1956; Ida Cosby Headley, born March 23, 1869, married John Christian Henon Frye, died September 22, 1948; Caleb David Headley, born February 22, 1872, died about 1895; William Franklin “Will” Headley, born August 25, 1875, married Caroline Lucas, died January 1960; Margaret Headley, born March 28, 1878, married Zachary T. Neace, died 1911; and Ballard P. Headley, born April 14, 1880, married Claire D. Clark in 1924, died circa 1958.
Headley, a doctor, and Sarah, a midwife, combined to serve the medical needs of the community.
“Doctor Headley treated whatever ailed people,” said Ward Adkins, in a 2003 interview. “And Grandma Sarah was a midwife from the time she was young. She delivered way over a hundred babies, practically all of us. People paid them with whatever they had: chickens, garden stuff.”
In the 1870 Lincoln County Census (Harts Creek District, Household #16), Headley was listed as 62 years old, while Sarah was 27, John was 3 and Cosby was 1. Caleb had $160 worth of real estate and $350 of personal property.
Two years later, in 1872, Headley bought 145 acres of land valued at one dollar per acre from George Hager.
“Beginning at a chestnut oak, corner to Harman Stroud on the ridge between the Big Branch and the Sulphur Spring Branch,” according to the deed, “thence N. 20 W. 100 poles to a white oak and ash on the middle point of Big Branch, thence S. 87 E. 85 poles to a stake a corner to Daniel Messer, thence with his line, S. 70 E. 196 poles to a white oak and beech, a corner to Brumfield’s heirs lands, thence S. 5 W. 160 poles to a double beech, thence N. 55 W. 84 poles to a maple corner to Corbin Estep, thence with his line, S. 71 W. 43 poles to a locust, thence N. 45 W. 155 poles more or less and with Stroud’s calls to the beginning.”
In 1879, Headley purchased 62 acres worth one dollar per acre from a land company.
“Beginning at a poplar on the John Fry Branch,” reads the deed, “thence south 52 poles to a white oak S. 30 E. 40 poles to a ‘sour gum’ E. 70 W. 156 poles to a stake, N. 45 E. 153 poles to a poplar and beech in the old Hager Line, then with it S. 16 E. 77 poles to the beginning.”
In 1880, Caleb was listed in the Harts Creek District of Lincoln County as a 72-year-old physician. Interestingly, this was the first instance in which Headley, who claimed to have been a practicing physician for nearly fifty years in an interview conducted during the early 1880s, declared his occupation as anything other than farming.
“I know Will said he could cure cancer,” said Adkins. “He said he was born with a cancer on his stomach and he had to sleep on a pillow until he was four years old. He had to wait until that sore was large enough for his daddy to take it off. Will had a scar as big as a fifty-cent piece on his stomach. He showed it to me several times. He said, ‘That’s where Paw took the cancer off of me.’ Grandpaw Neace told me that, too. He took one off of some of their family. He died with his secret, though. He never did tell nobody what he knew.”
In 1881, Headley bought 150 acres of land worth two dollars per acre from G.W. Hager, giving him a total property acreage of 357.
The following year, he either purchased more land or surveyed his existing properties. Tax books record him with the following tracts: 210 acres worth two dollars per acre containing a $100 building; 200 acres worth $1.50 per acre; and 45 acres worth $1.50 per acre. In total, according to tax records, he owned 455 acres worth $888.
Around that time, Henry H. Hardesty published a biographical sketch on Headley and several of his neighbors in a Lincoln County history.
“Caleb Headley is now a prosperous farmer, owning 600 acres of good land on Fourteen-mile creek, a portion of which is heavily timbered with oak, poplar and pine; coal and iron ore in abundance. There is a fine sulphur spring upon the land, on the creek three miles from Guyan river, which has been visited by people from many parts of the United States, and it is pronounced of excellent medicinal quality by all.”
This sulfur spring, which provided the entire creek with a name and generated some interest as a spot for healing is still remembered by older residents of the area today.
“It was just up here around the curve from my house,” said Adkins. “It’s not there now. It’s been destroyed. It had a round rock and that rock was about two feet high and it was dressed all the way around. And someone had hollowed it out about two inches from the edge and it sat right down in that spring. People used to gather there when I was growing up to play marbles and pitch horseshoes. Dad used to send us up there to get him a bucket of water after we come out of the field. Sulfur is a blood purifier, they said.”
Not long after providing his biography to Hardesty, Caleb Headley passed away.
“Doctor Headley died in, I believe it was 1881,” said Adkins. “Will said his dad died when he was about six years old and he was born in August of 1875. I think he finally died of a Civil War wound.”
Tax records do not list Headley’s property as being in his estate until 1886.