Doc McConnell Had Nerves of Steel

Dr. Robert Watson “Doc” McConnell was born in 1869. He became one of the finest physicians ever to practice under pressure, or under fire. He developed his fame in Scott County, primarily in the region around Gate City, Virginia.

A fight broke out among a group of men in Ft. Blackmore, on February 8, 1910. They gathered to drink, but tempers inevitably flared, and soon the pistols and knives came out. The clash left seven men injured, and several of those with serious wounds.

The primary instigators of the dangerous altercation were Clint Jones, Moscoe Duncan, and Jeff Flannary. They also became the most severely injured. Jones was shot through the shoulder. Flannary was stabbed in the back and received a number of gashes around his head. Duncan received a number of minor injuries.

Bullets flew through the closed door, even as McConnell treated the maimed. McConnell, himself, was shot in the breast, but continued to treat his patients. Abraham McConnell received .3 shot in the knee. Clint Church received the same in his leg. Pat Starnes received .16 shot in the leg and a number of pellets in his abdomen. Despite the brutality of the battle, all men survived.

McConnell treated yet another group from another alcohol-induced feud in August of 1911. This confrontation happened on an open, public highway. A group of people gathered by the Clinch River, across from what was then “Starnes Siding.” Again, the drink came out, and again, the weapons followed.

Monroe Dockery attempted to shoot Bent Salling. Worley Salling, a relative, stepped between them and tried calm the inflamed tempers. Sadly, the “whiskey demon” had the upper hand. Worley Salling was shot in the thigh. It was a severe wound.

Bent Salling then shot Dockery twice with a Colt .45. The first bullet just grazed his forehead, but the second passed cleanly through his body and severed his spine. By the time McConnell arrived, Dockery had developed an abdominal infection from the shot.

A woman, surnamed Gilliam, was at the fray, but only received a shot through the arm of her dress. She was otherwise unscathed.

After decades of repairing the damage from drunken shootouts, or lawmen after their many battles with outlaws, McConnell went on to battle for the county in the Virginia legislature. He was a delegate during the 1930s. Doc McConnell died in 1939, and is buried in the McConnell Cemetery, in Ft. Blackmore, Virginia.



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The Tri-Cities region encompasses three main cities, in two states, as well as numerous towns and villages. It has a combined population of around 500,000. This region is located among the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. It extends from Saltville, Virginia, through Unicoi County, Tennessee.
Bizarre Tri-Cities is filled with folklore, true crime, oddities, discoveries, ghost stories, and historic events that have been forgotten by mainstream history books. It covers such topics as the Buchanan County Butcher, Bristol’s Axe Murderer, the Marble Hall Fiend, strange mines, vanishing plagues, disappearing Civil War battalions, the truth behind the Rotherwood legends, strange lights in the sky, and historic structures we have lost in time. History has never been more fascinating… or more bizarre.
The first edition of Bizarre TriCities was released in 2001 as a hardcopy of the articles contained in Because the book drew such interest, it has been redone, expanded, reformatted, and redesigned to be a far more detailed volume.
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