Bazil Derry

Bazil Derry


Sons & Daughters Of
Bazil & Mary Polly Schultz-Derry






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Jacob? & Mary "Old Moll" Derry






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BAZIL DERRY - Born 24 April 1793 in Loudoun County, Virginia, Died 1879 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. He married Mary Polly Schultz. Bazil was the son of Mary "Old Moll" Derry.

~ Uniontown, PA ~

Thursday, January 1, 1891

A COUPLE Who Slew Wild Animals About Haydentown in Early Days

The following story comes to us from Gainesville, NY. Many of our readers will remember Derry and his wife. For further information concerning them we refer you to J. Gates Hartman and A. W. Scott who knew them well.

"Of all the men I need to hunt with when the Pennsylvania woods were filled with game, not one is alive, and they were all younger than me except one, Basil Derry of the Laurel Hill Mountains, way down in Fayette County," said the veteran Url Parmly of Gaines Corners. Mr. Parmly is nearly 93 years of age, and undoubtedly is the oldest hunter in the state, although he does very little hunting now. "Not because I'm too old," he says, "but because there isn't game enough to make it worth while."

"Basil Derry was seven years older than I," continued the old hunter, "and he's Been dead ten years. He was a great hunter. He had bought a small piece of land on the Laurel Mountain as early as 1812, and there married a girl named Mary Shultz, a member of the same stock that rock ribbed old Governor Shultz came from."

"The day they were married they started afoot through the woods on their wedding tour to their new home in the mountains. Basil, carried his rifle, and on his way to, killed fifteen wild turkeys, five deer, a bear and two wild cats. The bear and the wild cats Basil and his wife hung up in the woods out of reach of wolves. He shouldered two of the deer and six of the turkeys and his wife loaded herself of the nine remaining turkeys and carried them to their home. Some of the burden had to be carried twenty miles."

"The business Basil was going to engage in on the mountain was charcoal burning for the furnaces at Haydentown. He sold the deer and turkeys he killed on his wedding trip for enough money almost to pay for his cabin. The bear and wildcats his wife and himself went back and carried in after they got their other game same home. They had to take a tramp of ten miles to do it, and then got back before dark. This was in the early part of March, 1812."

"A few days after Basil and his wife (he was only 20 and she 17), got settled in the wilderness on the Laurel Mountain, Basil gathered in a back load of wild turkeys. He started with them to Haydentown, and on his way in killed a bear. He sold his turkeys and bear skin, having left the bear's carcass in the woods, and was about to start back home, when he was solicitied to stay and fiddle for a dance that was to be given in Haydentown that night, Basil being a good natural fiddler."

"He didn't want to leave his wife alone in the cabin, miles from anyplace, although he knew she could take care of herself, but the snug purse they offered to make up for him, he needed, and so he agreed to stay and fiddle. He left for home at daylight, and when he got home, he found that Mary had been sitting up all night shooting wolves from a loophole in the cabin, around which they had been howling all night. The snow was strewn with dead wolves, and the young wife told Basil she was glad he had stayed at Haydentown and earned the money."

"When out hunting, Derry always wore moccasins made by himself out of a groundhog skin. He made his way through the woods on these as noiselessly as a shadow. He had two guns, both flint locks, and he never changed them to percussion locks when those were invented. He said the old flint locks had always stood by him, and he intended to stand by them. He called his guns, Burnt Eye and Black Snake. Black Snake he always kept home for his wife for emergencies. In case no emergency arose she frequently started out herself in the woods to raise one. She seldom came home without a turkey or two, perhaps a deer, and likely as not, a bear."

"One time, after they had lived on the mountain a year or two, he wounded a big buck late in the afternoon. One of the bucks forelegs were broken by the shot. Basil did not follow the deer then, but returned home, ate his supper, and told his wife he was going back to run down the deer."

"All right," she said, "I'll go with you." "Taking a couple of dogs, which they led, Basil and his wife started for the clearing where he had wounded the buck. Arriving there, they waited and listened. They heard deer after deer pass them in the darkness, by their footfalls on the dry leaves,but the quick ear of Basil could tell that none of them was his wounded buck. By and by, a deer came along through the woods, and by its gait, Basil knew that it was the wounded buck. The dogs were turned loose. Down the steep ascent the deer went, the dogs after him."

"Basil ran after the dogs, and his wife kept easily at his side. They ran nearly two miles, and then came out suddenly in an open space, lighted brightly by the moon. In the moonlight, Basil saw that one of his dogs had caught the deer and was holding it by one of its hind legs. He shot it. Aided by his wife, he dressed and skinned it. They were at least seven miles fom home, and it was late. Basil built a fire. His wife cooked some of the venison. She ate a hearty meal, and lay down on the bare ground and slept soundly until morning, although it was late in November. How was that for a young married couple?"

"For sixty-seven years Basil Derry followed the life of a hunter and backwoods farmer, and the many grand hunts I've had with him make me feel good to think of. He never had his superior as a woodsman. He was a native of Loudoun County, Virginia, and was a son of Molly Derry, the fortune teller of the Revolution. Derry died in Fayette County, (PA) and his wife was still living in 1883, hale, sound and hearty."

Photo courtesy:

Bazil Derry's hunting rifle (Top) with powder horn and ammo bag.

Civil War era rifle (Bottom)

(A letter from Joan Brown Derry about BAZIL's rifle. Dated Sunday, June 22, 2003).

Good morning Doc and Judy --

Yesterday I received a photograph of the two rifles passed down in the DERRY-HARTMAN-RODERICK family.

The rifle in the front (Bottom) is from the Civil War era and has a "D" carved in the rifle butt. We are not sure who this belonged to.

The rifle in the rear (Top) with the powder horn and bag is BAZIL DERRY's!!!! Oh my, oh my, oh my!!!! I am still having goosebumps!!!! The photograph is from the courtesy of DEBORAH BURCHELL BRADY, a descendant through Bazil's daughter, CHARIETY PHEBE (nee Derry) HARTMAN.

If you recall from the 1880 PA Census for Georges Township, Fayette County -- old BAZIL DERRY (1786-1879) had passed away that previous spring. He died on May 20th, 1879. His widow, MARY (nee Shultz) DERRY, went to live with her daughter,CHARIETY PHEBE HARTMANand family. It would make sense that their personal belongings came with her -- including the rifles.

We don't know a death date for MARY (nee Shultz) DERRY. We do know thatCHARIETY and GEORGE HARTMANhad a daughter born in 1860 who was namedSOPHIA HARTMAN. She married HENRY METHIAH RODERICK, who was born in 1852.

SOPHIA (Sophey) and HENRY RODERICK had 6 children. The eldest was a daughter named ISA LENA RODERICK, who was born in 1879. As the eldest daughter, again it makes sense that she inherited the rifles.

ISA LENA RODERICK married RALPH H. BURCHELL and they had 4 sons. RALPH worked on the B & O Railroad and they lived at the "Ruble Farm" near Smithfield, Fayette Co., PA. When they died, the farm was sold to a descendant -- possibly NORA RODERICK. The house was built over an original old cabin.

The youngest son was named ROY BURCHELL, who married VIRGINIA HELBLING. Both of these families were from the Pittsburgh, Allegheny County area. ROY was a pastor. ROY took the rifles from the old farm near Smithfield, when RALPH and ISA passed away.

ROY and VIRGINIA BURCHELL are the parents of DEBORAH (nee BURCHELL) BRADY, who is now in possession of these two rifles. Debbie says that while growing up she heard, and passed along, stories about "Bazil sleeping with a hibernating bear"!!!!!!

Ohhhhh -- I can just see the 'ole coot curled up in a cave next to this bear to keep warm during a winter's hunt (lol). Wish I could turn the clock and back and spend a day with old BAZIL and MARY!!!!

Hope the attachment of the rifles comes through OK. I am still a novice at learning how to scan.

Have a wonderful day!

Joan and Ron (Derry)

(Thank you, Joan, and thank you Deborah for the photo. I cropped the photo and lightened it to better see the powder horn and ammo bag).

BAZIL DERRY ~ Newspaper Article ~ 1879 (?? Daily Standard??)

Bazil Derry was born in Bedford County, PA, in the month of April, 1786, and is now 92 years of age. His wife, Mary, was born in the same county, in the year 1789, and is now 90 years of age. This venerable couple have lived in the same house nearly 70 years, about 1/2 mile south of Woods Tannery, and near the foot o the mountain in George Township, Fayette County, PA.

Mr. Derry has been confined to his bed for 8 months, is reduced to a mere skeleton and is almost blind. They had 5 children born to them, all of whom are living. Jacob, their only son, is over 60 years of age. Mrs John Gates, Mrs. Samual Huntley, Mrs. William Emme, and Mrs. George Hartman, are their daughters. They have a large number of grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.

Mr. Derry was a shoemaker by trade, but followed hunting in the mountains until his eyesight failed, and is safe to say that he has killed more deer and bear, caught more coon, and shot more turkeys and squirrels and killed more rattlesnakes than any other man that ever lived in Fayette County. He has been to the head of Cheat River, and all over the Canaan Valley on that stream in his hunting tours.

Mr. Derry is a very singular and excentric man, is entirely unlettered, but well-acquainted with the habits and instinks of wild animals.


**Note: This article was written on May 1, 1879. Bazil died May 20th, 1879. Wife Mary, was living with daughter Charetta (Chariety) Phebe Hartman and husband George, in the 1880 PA Census.

The census summary for Mary and Bazil is shown below...






















Age, BP

Age, BP

Age, BP

Derry, Bazil



60, MD

74, PA

83, PA

Schultz, Mary Polly



57, MD

72, PA

82, VA

Derry, Charity Phebe



16, PA


Derry, Lavina



14, PA


Census information courtesy: Karen Kurtz


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