William Galloway Ice: He was called “Indian Billy” …

Indian Billy was a kind and gentle man, often, but he had “mischievous Indian ways”, like growing a large pumpkin field and helping the neighbor children steal his own pumpkins.

William "Indian Billy" Ice

William “Indian Billy” Ice

William Galloway Ice was born, the second son of Frederick Ice and Mary Galloway, on the 1st of April, in 1730. The family was living in the South Branch of the Potomac River in Patterson Creek, Hampshire County, Virginia. This area would later become part West Virginia. William was also a colorful character and the father of most of the modern day Ice families in the United States, mostly because he was the father of 17 children with three different wives.

After a year with a remarkably good crop, when William was about ten years old, Frederick Ice and several of the men from the town went to the mill. They had a long distance to go, probably to Winchester, Virginia, which at the time was the center of trade for north-eastern Virginia. When they returned to the settlement, they found the Mohawk Indians had raided it, and killed or taken the inhabitants, burned the homes, destroyed the crops, and driven off the livestock. Frederick found the ashes of his home to discover his wife, Mary, and three of his children were captured by the Indians. These children were Christine, William, and Mary. Mary stayed the remainder of her life with this Indian tribe, and only visited the Ice family once afterward, in 1825. Although untrue, she is mentioned in several places as the mother of Tecumseh. Christina married an Indian, had three children with him, and died naturally at age 25. The only member of Frederick’s family to come home was William.

A Newspaper Article from 1978 about William "Indian Billy" Ice

A Newspaper Article from 1978 about William “Indian Billy” Ice

During this time, William was sold to the Shawnee Indians. William tried to escape from the Native Americans several times but was caught, brought back into the Ohio Native towns, and the top of his ears were cut off flat for his attempts. These Native towns are near modern Chillicothe, Ohio. In her book, Virginia Ice Conaway wrote about William’s time at these Native camps.

I have heard my father, T. F. Conaway, tell how his granduncle Bill Ice, as they called him, escaped from the Indians. He (Indian Billy) said that the Indians were away out beyond the Ohio River and once they started on a trail through the woods took him and one of the young Indian boys along. Eventually, they stopped and left most of their horses for him and this boy to take care of. He and Indian Boy got into a fight and he got the best of the Indian in the fight. Then he went into the wigwam. “I did not like the look the boy gave me and decided to leave. The horses were together near camp and I took a horse and followed the trail of the Indians who had left us, and in a few miles, found myself opposite a town. I swam my horse across the river and fastened it in the bushes and walked into Pittsburg. A white man was sitting in the street and asked me if I was a prisoner of the Indians. I said that I was. He told me ‘if you want to escape, go into the house and stay until the Indians leave town. I will take care of you.’ I told this man where I left my horse. He gave me food clothes to wear. I had worn Indian clothes while I was with them. I could talk English learned from other prisoners. I worked awhile in Pittsburg, then went to Canada and stayed awhile. From Canada, I went to Paris, France, and then came back to America, landing in Philadelphia just as they were getting to cut the Mason and Dixon line. I joined and worked with them until I can to Ice’s Ferry. My stepmother was talking to one of the men who belonged to the camp, and told her they had a man who had been with the Indians. She took me home and Father found that Brother John was still with the Indians and arranged to bring him home.

She later wrote about how Indian Billy had been in Philadelphia for years, and Frederick had been there many times during those years, but they passed each other without knowing who the other was. Eventually, however, most of the family was reunited. The trauma they experienced was not isolated or unheard of in their day. There were many struggles between Native trying to hold onto their ancestral land and prevent turning their people into refugees, and the Europeans moving west to create a new life for themselves and their families.

Indian Billy knew he had been lucky to have his life, and he did not waste a moment of it. He fought in the Revolution with the Virginia militia of Prickett’s Fort in Mongolia County (now Marion County, West Virginia). Indian Billy received pay at Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania, and was on the payroll list at General Braddock’s defeat during the French and Indian War. He was also the first to settle Barrackville in Marion County. The 1785 record of survey shows him owning 400 acres on both sides of the Buffalo Creek there. He later surveyed and settled an additional 56 acres in the same area.

A Deed of Land from William Ice to Adam Ice (his son)

A Deed of Land from William Ice to Adam Ice (his son)

During his time on the Mason and Dixon line, Indian Billy worked as a laborer. Cutting this line had been difficult. It was started in 1763, but stopped. Again, it started in early June, 1766, and reached the top of the Allegany Mountains. On June 17, 1767, the again started west in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and pushed on to the Monongahela River in October. He also worked as an interpreter during his time on the line and in the French and Indian War. However, during his life he could neither read or write, and he did not know the English alphabet.

Pioneer Home of Indian Billy

William “Indian Billy” Galloway Ice died in April of 1826. He wrote a will:

In the name of God, Amen.
I, William Ice of Buffalo Creek, Monongalia County and the State of Virginia, being very sick and weak in body of perfect mind and memory thanks be given to God.
Calling into mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last will and testament that is to say, principally and first of all give and recommend my soul to Almighty God who gave it, and my body I recommend to the earth to be buried in decent Christina burial at the discretion of my wife.
Nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the Mighty power of God and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life I give, demise and dispose of all the same in the following manner and form.
First: I give and bequeath to my wife Elizabeth Ice all my household goods and debts.
I give and bequeath to my loving wife Elizabeth Ice all my land as long as she lives and keeps my name, and if she alters my name then only her thirds.
I give and bequeath to my wife Elizabeth Ice all my horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs and farming utensils.
I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Ice fifteen shillings.
I give and bequeath to my son John Ice fifteen shillings.
I give and bequeath to my son William Ice ten dollars.
I give and bequeath to my son George Ice fifteen dollars.
I give and bequeath to my son Abraham Ice fifteen dollars.
I give and bequeath to my son Adam Ice fifteen dollars.
I give and bequeath to my daughter Margaret Bayles fifteen shillings and I give and bequeath to my daughter Mary Shrieves fifteen shillings, and to my daughter Eve Shrieves fifteen dollars,
none of these heirs to be paid till Benjamin Ice my youngest son comes of age.
I give and bequeath unto James Ice and Frederick Ice and Benjamin Ice all my land to be equally divided quantity and quality James to first choice, Frederick second choice, and Benjamin the last choice, and these three boys to pay my daughter Sally Ice one hundred dollars a piece.
I continue make and ordain my loving wife Elizabeth Ice my sole executrix of this my last will and testament by them freely enjoyed.
And I do hereby utterly disallow, revoke, and disannul all and every other former testaments in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Fourth of July 1818.

X (William’s Mark)

Three people served as witness to this will, but it was contested by the children of William’s fist and second marriages against the children of the third marriage. The allegations being that William was too old and feeble of mind to properly decide his bequeaths. Many of William’s acquaintances testified on behalf of the defense as to his ability to make sound judgments. However, in the final outcome the prosecution prevailed. On September 17, 1829, the Superior Court of Chancery held at Clarksburg, Virginia, gave the prosecution a victory under the presiding judge, Judge Henry St. George Tucker.

The grave of William is located in the Ice Cemetery on Barracksville Highway. It is marked by the Ice Family Association today.

Headstone and Marker for William Galloway Ice

Headstone and Marker for William Galloway Ice

The cemetery is near Barracksvillle on US 290. It was established in 1830 or earlier as a private burial ground. Later, in 1881, it was included in property of a Church of Christ. It is fenced and not landscaped. It is considered in fair condition and most lots are marked by corner stone. No burial records were kept for this cemetery, but the earliest stone was marked 1830. It contains 15 graves marked by small, flat, unlettered field stones. Tradition holds these are graves of members of the Fortner and Bayles families, along with many others. Three Civil War and one World War veteran are buried here. In total, there are 119 marked graves and unknown unmarked graves. In 1929, the Ice Family Association erected a native stone monument at the site of William’s grave, with a bronze tablet inscribed:Inscription on Marker


William “Indian Billy” Galloway Ice is my 6th Great Grandfather:

William is the father of Mary Anne Ice (who ended up with 20 acres by the Court’s ruling).
Mary married James Edgell. They were the parents of Rebecca Jane Edgell.
Rebecca married Samuel Starkey. They had Nancy A. Starkey Price.
Nancy married John Abernathy Price. They were the parents of James W. Price.
James was the father of Effie Price.
Effie married Ballard Craddock. They were the parents of Zella Louise Craddock Webb Martin.
Zella is the mother of my mother.



Hiram B. Short: He Fought in the Civil War …

Hiram Short was an American Civil War soldier. He enlisted at the start of the war and continued to serve until the end. Born to Joel Short and Nancy Jane Riggs on January 18, 1824, in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. In September of 1846, at 22-years-old, he married Eliza Jane McCoy in Botetourt, Virginia. They lived together in Botetourt until the start of the Civil War.aaa 1850 U.S. Federal Census

When the fighting broke out in 1861, Hiram answered the call. He was already 37-years-old when he enlisted as a Private in the Union Forces of West Virginia. Altogether, he served with the 9th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company B; the 10th West Virginia Infantry Regiment, Company C and Company A; and the 1st West Virginia Veteran Infantry, Company C. His initial enlistment date is the 21st of December, 1861. This was only six months after the Confederates fired upon Fort Sumter, which started the war. Tensions were high before this, however.

 9th West Virginia Infantry Regiment Enlistment

9th West Virginia Infantry Regiment Enlistment

In the 1860 presidential election, Republicans, led by Abraham Lincoln, opposed the expansion of slavery into US territories. Lincoln won, but before his inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven slave states with cotton-based economies formed the Confederacy. The first six to secede had the highest proportions of slaves in their populations, a total of 48.8% for the six. Outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan and the incoming Republicans rejected secession as illegal. Lincoln’s inaugural address declared his administration would not initiate civil war. Eight remaining slave states continued to reject calls for secession. Confederate forces seized numerous federal forts within territory claimed by the Confederacy. A peace conference failed to find a compromise, and both sides prepared for war. The Confederates assumed that European countries were so dependent on “King Cotton” that they would intervene; none did and none recognized the new Confederate States of America. Hostilities began in April, 1861, when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter, a key fort held by Union troops in South Carolina. Lincoln called for each state to provide troops to retake the fort; consequently, four more slave states joined the Confederacy, bringing their total to eleven. The Union soon controlled the border states and established a naval blockade that crippled the southern economy. For this, Hiram leaves his wife and family, and goes to war. At this time, West Virginia had joined the Union, but not all West Virginians agreed with their state’s position. In this same family line, another ancestor living in West Virginia joined the war, but on the side of the Confederacy. This truly was a war of brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, and family against family. Hiram, however, was fighting on the side of the Union.

1st West Virginia Vet. Infantry Regiment Enlistment

1st West Virginia Vet. Infantry Regiment Enlistment

The first battle Hiram saw was the first battle of Winchester, in the Frederick and Winchester Counties of Virginia. It has also been called Bowers Hill Battle, and was part of Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign. There were a total of 22,500 soldiers fighting on the 25th of May, 1862, in this battle, 16,000 of which were Confederate soldiers. After skirmishing with Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks’s retreating army at Middletown and Newtown on May 24, Maj. Gen. T.J. Jackson’s division continued north on the Valley Pike toward Winchester. There, Banks was attempting to reorganize his army to defend the town. Ewell’s division converged on Winchester from the southeast using the Front Royal Pike. On May 25, Ewell attacked Camp Hill, while the Louisiana Brigade of Jackson’s division outflanked and overran the Union position on Bowers Hill. Panic spread through the Federal ranks, and many fled through Winchester. Banks’s army was soundly defeated and withdrew north across the Potomac River. This was a decisive battle in Jackson’s Valley Campaign for the Confederates. The estimated casualties of this battle totaled 2,419, the Union lost 2,019 men and the Confederates lost only 400. Hiram made it through this battle, and was next seen at the second Battle of Winchester.

After the Battle of Brandy Station, June 9, 1863, Lee ordered the II Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, under Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell, to clear the lower Shenandoah Valley of Union opposition. Ewell’s columns converged on Winchester’s garrison commanded by Brig. Gen. Robert Milroy. After fighting on the afternoon of June 13 and the capture of West Fort by the Louisiana Brigade on June 14, Milroy abandoned his entrenchments after dark in an attempt to reach Charles Town. “Allegheny” Johnson’s division conducted a night flanking march and before daylight of the 15th cut off Milroy’s retreat just north of Winchester at Stephenson’s Depot. More than 2,400 Federals surrendered. This Confederate victory cleared the Valley of Union troops and opened the door for Lee’s second invasion of the North. This was the second battle of Winchester.

Next, Hiram fought in the Battle of Droop Mountain. This battle was located in Pocahontas County, Virginia, and was part of Averell’s Raid on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. It took place on November 6, 1863, and pitted commanders Brig. Gen. William W. Averell of the Union against Brig. Gen. John Echols. In early November, Brig. Gens. W.W. Averell and Alfred Napoleon Alexander Duffié embarked on a raid into southwestern Virginia to disrupt the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. While Duffié’s column destroyed military property en route, Averell encountered and defeated a Confederate brigade under Brig. Gen. John Echols at Droop Mountain. The Union columns reunited at Lewisburg the next day but were in no condition to continue their raid. After this battle, Confederate resistance in West Virginia collapsed. There were 526 total casualties in this Union victory. Again, Hiram is alive and on to the next fight.

The next fight was the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain, in Pulaski County. This was part of the Crook-Averell Raid on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, and took place on May 9, 1864. The Union was led by Brig. Gen. George Crook, while the Confederates were led by Brig. Gen. Albert Jenkins. Approximately 10,000 men fought, and of those an estimated 1,500 were lost. On May 9, Crook’s three brigades (6,100 men) on a raid into southwestern Virginia encountered a patchwork Confederate force under Brig. Gen. Albert Jenkins at Cloyd’s Mountain. Fighting was furious and hand-to-hand. Casualties were heavy for the size of the forces engaged: Union 10%, Confederate 23%. Jenkins was mortally wounded. Crook afterwards joined forces with Averell, who had burned the New River Bridge, and the united column withdrew to Meadow Bluff after destroying several important railroad bridges. This was a Union victory.

1890 Veterans Schedules

1890 Veterans Schedules

During the Battle of Cove Mountain, in Wythe County, Brig. Gen. William W. Averell, Union commander, and Brig. Gen. William. E. Jones, Confederate commander, met again on May 10, 1864. Brig. Gen. W.W. Averell’s raiders encountered a brigade under William “Grumble” Jones near Cove Mountain. After delaying the Union advance, the Confederates withdrew. The next day, Averell reached the New River Bridge on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, which he burned. 300 men died in this battle. Then on May 15, 1864, Hiram fought in the Battle of New Market in Shenandoah County, Virginia. This was part of the Lynchburg campaign. On this day, 10,365 men were engaged in battle, with just over 6,000 for the Union. In conjunction with his Spring offensive, Lt. Gen. U.S. Grant ordered Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel to move up the Shenandoah Valley along the Valley Pike with 10,000 men to destroy the railroad and canal complex at Lynchburg. At New Market on the 15th, Sigel was attacked by a makeshift Confederate army of about 4,100 men commanded by Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge. At a crucial point, a key Union battery was withdrawn from the line to replenish its ammunition, leaving a weakness that Breckinridge was quick to exploit. He ordered his entire force forward, and Sigel’s stubborn defense collapsed. Threatened by the Confederate cavalry on his left flank and rear, Sigel ordered a general withdrawal burning the North Fork bridge behind him. Sigel retreated down the Valley to Strasburg and was soon replaced by Maj. Gen. David Hunter. 1,300 men lost their lives in this battle. Of the 840 Union soldier lost in this Confederate victory, Hiram was not one.

1890 Veterans Schedule

1890 Veterans Schedule

During the Battle of Piedmont in Augusta County, June 5-6, 1864, principal commanders Maj. Gen. David Hunter, Union, and Brig. Gen. William E. Jones, Confederate, faced off with 14,000 total soldiers. The Union supplied 8,500 men while the Confederates only brought 5,500. After replacing Sigel in command of Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley, Maj. Gen. David “Black Dave” Hunter renewed the Union offensive. On June 5, Hunter engaged the Confederate army under “Grumble” Jones north of Piedmont. After severe fighting, a flanking movement made by Thoburn’s brigade turned Jones’s right flank. While trying to stem the retreat of his soldiers, Jones was killed. The retreat became a rout. More than 1,000 Confederates, including 60 officers, were captured. Jones lost three guns. Hunter occupied Staunton on June 6 and, after a pause to await the arrival of Brig. Gen. George Crook’s column, began to advance on Lynchburg, destroying military stores and public property in his wake. The estimated casualties during this battle were 2,375 total; the Union lost 875, but was the victor.

Next, Hiram was in the Battle of Lynchburg, Virginia, on June 17-18, 1864. From Lexington, Maj. Gen. David Hunter advanced against the Confederate rail and canal depots and the hospital complex at Lynchburg. Reaching the outskirts of town on June 17, his first tentative attacks were thwarted by the timely arrival by rail of Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early’s II Corps vanguard from Charlottesville. Hunter withdrew the next day after sporadic fighting because of a critical shortage of supplies. His line of retreat through West Virginia took his army out of the war for nearly a month and opened the Shenandoah Valley for a Confederate advance into Maryland. 44,000 men fought, and 900 died in this Confederate victory. In the second Battle of Kernstown on July 24, 1864, Hiram fought again. This was part of Early’s Raid and Operations against the B&O Railroad. 44,000 troops came to the battlefield, but 1,800 would not leave alive. Believing that Early’s army was no longer a threat in the Valley, Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright abandoned his pursuit and ordered the VI and XIX Corps to return to Washington, where they were to be sent to Grant’s “army group” before Petersburg. Wright left Brig. Gen. George Crook with three divisions and some cavalry to hold Winchester. Under orders to prevent reinforcements from being sent to Grant, Early marched north on July 24 against Crook. After an hour of stubborn resistance at Pritchard’s Hill, the Federal line collapsed and Crook’s divisions streamed back in disarray through the streets of Winchester. Col. James Mulligan commanding Crook’s 3rd Division was mortally wounded. Rutherford B. Hayes commanded a brigade against John C. Breckinridge’s wing. Crook retreated to the Potomac River and crossed near Williamsport on July 26. As a result of this defeat and the burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on July 30, Grant returned the VI and XIX Corps and appointed Sheridan as commander of Union forces in the Valley. This was another Confederate victory.

Then, September 3-4, 1864, Hiram was in the Battle of Berryville. Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s divisions marched south from Halltown, reaching Berryville on September 3. Happening upon elements of Brig. Gen. George Crook’s corps going into camp, Maj. Gen. R.H. Anderson’s (Kershaw’s) division attacked with limited results. During the night, Early brought up his entire army but by daylight found Sheridan’s position too strongly entrenched to assault. General Early withdrew after dark behind Opequon Creek. This inconclusive battle cost 500 lives. After Kershaw’s division left Winchester to rejoin Lee’s army at Petersburg, Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early renewed his raids on the B&O Railroad at Martinsburg, badly dispersing his four remaining infantry divisions. On September 19, Sheridan advanced toward Winchester along the Berryville Pike with the VI and XIX Corps, crossing Opequon Creek. The Union advance was delayed long enough for Early to concentrate his forces to meet the main assault, which continued for several hours. Casualties were very heavy. The Confederate line was gradually driven back toward the town. Mid-afternoon, Crook’s (VIII) Corps and the cavalry turned the Confederate left flank. Early ordered a general retreat. Confederate generals Rodes and Goodwin were killed, Fitzhugh Lee, Terry, Johnson, and Wharton wounded. Union general Russell was killed, McIntosh, Upton, and Chapman wounded. Because of its size, intensity, and result, many historians consider this the most important conflict of the Shenandoah Valley. It happened on September 19, 1864, when Hiram was 40 years-old. In total 54,440 men engaged with the Union bringing 39,240 of them. The Union claimed this victory.

The Battle of Fisher’s Hill, in Shenandoah County, happened on September 21. This was only two days since Hiram last saw battle. Early’s army, bloodied by its defeat at Opequon (Third Winchester) on September 19, took up a strong defensive position at Fisher’s Hill, south of Strasburg. On September 21, the Union army advanced, driving back the skirmishers and capturing important high ground. On the 22nd, Crook’s Corps moved along North Mountain to outflank Early and attacked about 4 pm. The Confederate cavalry offered little resistance, and the startled infantry were unable to face the attacking force. The Confederate defense collapsed from west to east as Sheridan’s other corps join in the assault. Early retreated to Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, opening the Valley to a Union “scorched earth” invasion. Mills and barns from Staunton to Strasburg were burned in what became known as the “Burning” or “Red October.” Of the engaged 38,944 men, the Confederates only supplied 9,500. However, of the 1,763 total estimated dead , the Confederates supplied 1,235.

At dawn, October 19, 1864, the Confederate Army of the Valley under Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early surprised the Federal army at Cedar Creek and routed the VIII and XIX Army Corps. Commander Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan arrived from Winchester to rally his troops, and, in the afternoon, launched a crushing counterattack, which recovered the battlefield. Sheridan’s victory at Cedar Creek broke the back of the Confederate army in the Shenandoah Valley. Lincoln rode the momentum of Sheridan’s victories in the Valley and Sherman’s successes in Georgia to re-election. On March 30, Lee shifted reinforcements to meet the Federal movement to turn his right flank, placing Maj. Gen. W.H. Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry divisions at Five Forks and transferring Pickett’s division from the Bermuda Hundred front to the extreme right. Warren pushed the V Corps forward and entrenched a line to cover the Boydton Plank Road from its intersection with Dabney Mill Road south to Gravelly Run. Ayres’s division advanced northwest toward White Oak Road. On March 31, in combination with Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s thrust via Dinwiddie Court House, Warren directed his corps against the Confederate entrenchments along White Oak Road, hoping to cut Lee’s communications with Pickett at Five Forks. The Union advance was stalled by a crushing counterattack directed by Maj. Gen. Bushrod Johnson, but Warren’s position stabilized and his soldiers closed on the road by day’s end. This fighting set up the Confederate defeat at Five Forks on April 1.

With Confederate defeat at Five Forks on April 1, Grant and Meade ordered a general assault against the Petersburg lines by II, IX, VI and XXIV Corps on April 2. A heroic defense of Fort Gregg by a handful of Confederates prevented the Federals from entering the city that night. Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill was killed trying to reach his troops in the confusion. After dark, Lee ordered the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond. Grant had achieved one of the major military objectives of the war: the capture of Petersburg, which led to the fall of Richmond, the Capitol of the Confederacy. This was the Battle of Petersburg on the 2nd of April, 1865, and was part of the Appomattox Campaign. Hiram fought directly for Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant on this day. Almost 8,000 men lost their lives there. Four days later, Hiram was in the Battle of Rice’s Station. Maj. Gen. John Gibbon, of the Union, went up against Lt. Gen. James Longstreet. Longstreet’s command reached Rice’s Station, its farthest point south, where it was blocked by Union XXIV Corps. After some skirmishing, Longstreet withdrew over the High Bridge during the night toward Farmville. Few men lost their lives during this skirmish. However, Hiram was about to help the Union secure their victory at Appomattox. Early on April 9, the remnants of John Broun Gordon’s corps and Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry formed line of battle at Appomattox Court House. Gen. Robert E. Lee determined to make one last attempt to escape the closing Union pincers and reach his supplies at Lynchburg. At dawn the Confederates advanced, initially gaining ground against Sheridan’s cavalry. The arrival of Union infantry, however, stopped the advance in its tracks. Lee’s army was now surrounded on three sides. Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9. This was the final engagement of the war in Virginia, and the final battle for Hiram.

1880 U.S. Federal Census

1880 U.S. Federal Census

Hiram Short returned home to Spencer, Roane County, West Virginia after the surrender of Lee. He worked as a farmer, while his eldest son, Preston, worked as a Teacher and his younger sons worked on the farm. Hiram and his family continued to live in Spencer. On the 19th of July, 1902, Hiram passed away in Spencer. He was buried in the Short Cemetery in Spencer. His grave is marked with a Union Civil War headstone.



How am I related to Hiram B. Short?

Hiram is my 3rd Great Grandfather:

Hiram was the father of Jennette “Nettie” Short.
Jennette was married to Peter Niday. They were the parents of Ona Pearl “Lillie” Niday.
Ona married Early Edward “Earl” Webb. They were the parents of Thurman Casto “Pete” Webb.
Thurman was the father of Diana P. Webb.
Diana married William Kenneth Morrison, and they are my parents.

Mordecai Price: He was also an Ancestor of President Richard Nixon …

Price Coat of Arms (1 of 2)

Price Coat of Arms (1 of 2)

Mordecai Price was born in 1660 in Ann Arundell, Maryland, to Thomas Price and Elizabeth Johnson. Thomas was 24 when Mordecai was born, and his mother was 19 years old. Mordecai and Thomas descended from Andrew Price, who was born in Wales and came to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1610, on The Ark or The Dove ships. Mordecai was also a Quaker, owned slaves, sired at least 13 documented children, and is the ancestor or President Richard Nixon, my mother-in-law, and myself.

Mordecai married his first wife, Mary Holland about 1683, but she died, likely in childbirth, less than a year later. In 1684/6, Mordecai married Mary Parsons, also from an established family, in West River, Ann Arundell, Maryland. About 1693, Mordecai petitioned the Council of Maryland:

“To His Excellency, the Governor & the Honorable Council
“The humble Petitioner being lawfully Vested in a Certain tract or Parcel of Land called Cumbers Ridge lying in Ann Arundell County formerly taken up by one John Cumber and now in the Possession of your Petitioner humbly prays that Warrant of Resurvey my issue from this Board to Resurvey the same to be made in the Presence of the Sheriff of the said County and a Jury by him Summoned impaneled and Sworne and according to the known Bounds and Courses thereof and not running into the Lines of an antienter survey then itself or Land reserved for the Lord Baltemores use and that the Surveyor may have Power to Examine upon oath such Evidences as originally bounded and marked the said Land at the first taking up.
“And your Petitioner shall pray”

His petition was answered affirmatively in 1693. The Court issued a re-survey to take place with the Sheriff watching. After which, the Court received a Certificate of Resurvey for Mordecai Price on February 14, 1693. Then, in 1707, Mordecai pops up again: in the Rent Rolls. In the first Rent Roll, he is listed as the possessor of 170 tract known as Cumber’s Ridge (the same land which he had re-surveyed). At this time, the rent was 3 shillings and 5 pence, and this land was located at the head of the branch of Deep Creek near the three islands in the swamp. In the next Rent Roll, Mordecai is listed as the owner of a 116 acre parcel known as Locust Neck. This must have been a little better than swampland, though, because the rent raised from 4 shillings and 7-3/4 pence to over 8 shillings by 1711.

Mordecai Price's Baltimore City Land Ownership Deed

Mordecai Price’s 1709 Baltimore City Land Ownership Deed

In September of 1709, Mordecai, then a planter, bought more land. This time it was 100 acres on Britton Ridge, in Baltimore City, Maryland, for 16 English pounds. He purchased 93 acres more on Sater Hill, in Baltimore County, Maryland, in 1711 for another 16 pounds. Later, at his death, he owned 116 acres himself, and was in charge of another 18 acres for the orphaned daughter of his friend, and former father-in-law Anthony Holland. This estate of Anthony was valued at over 400 English pounds. Sometime between 1703 and 1711, undated Rent Rolls show Mordecai as the possessor of 50 acres which was part of a 155-acre tract known as Papa Ridge (the remaining portion of the Ridge was owned by Widow Hurst). Papa Ridge was located in the Herring Creek Swamp in Ann Arudell County, Maryland.

Enough of where he lived… How did he live? I already mentioned he was a Quaker. The first Quaker to visit Maryland was a traveling Friend as Quaker missionaries were called.    Her name was Elizabeth Harris and it is thought that she visited around 1655.  By 1700, it is estimated that there were approximately three thousand Quakers in Maryland, enough to support two yearly meetings. Along with Catholics, this made Quakers a significant minority in the Colony.  In 1649, the freeman of Maryland enacted an Act Concerning Religion which is more familiarly called the Toleration Act.  The usual explanation for this Act is that the current Lord Baltimore was trying to protect the Catholics in the province who had become a minority in the province established as a haven for them.  Usually, the Quakers are mentioned as the second beneficiary to the Act; however, theirs is a much more complicated case.  In fact, the history of Quakers in Maryland seems to be one of those threads which parallels and reflect the development of Maryland society in General.

American Genealogical-Biographical Index: Mordecai Price

American Genealogical-Biographical Index: Mordecai Price

The Maryland Flag

The Maryland Flag

While the condition of Quakers in Maryland as a minority is far better than it is for them in almost every other colony, it is no cake walk.  While it is true that the Toleration Act of 1649 allowed dissenters to practice their religion, it does not always protect them fully from discrimination and acrimony.  It is true that the Toleration Act made Maryland appear to be more welcoming but it is also true that Lord Baltimore needed to solidify his hold on the Eastern shore over which he was in dispute with Virginia.  The Act encouraged Quakers to escape Virginian persecution by moving to territory claimed by Maryland on the Eastern Shore.  Those immigrants then became loyal to the proprietor.  Once Maryland’s jurisdiction over the territory solidified, there was a shift in attitude from viewing Quakers as model citizens to viewing them as obstinate shirkers.  Of course, by that time immigrants from England reflected the more orthodox religious views from that island.  While the atmosphere in Maryland will never reach the extremes of discrimination and persecution that Quakers experienced in other colonies, it was far from idyllic.  One constant theme during this period of time seems to be perseverance. While they will chafe under the requirement to support the Anglican church through forced tithing as well as their ouster from public office because of their refusal to swear oaths, they do not give up but develop new methods  to influence the political process.

Hidden behind the story reflected in the written records of the provincial government, is a history of a group who were struggling to define the basic tenets of their faith as well as solidifying a supporting consensus.  Today, we associate Quakers with non-violence and conscientious objectors.  We also portray them as ardent abolitionists and activists for women’s suffrage.  At one point, they were leaders in education.  Their efforts to purchase land from Native Americans, rather than just appropriate fits very well with modern-day attitudes.  However, these characteristics that we associate with Quakers today were not fully developed in colonial Maryland.  Just as colonial society was developing and maturing, so was that of the Quakers. While in most cases their course has been the proven course, it was not always a straightforward move ahead – it sometimes required dissent from within.  In this way, their struggles can be seen as a more universal struggle.

Sketch of Gunpowder Meeting House, Attended by Mordecai Price

Sketch of Gunpowder Meeting House, Attended by Mordecai Price

In about 1700, the Friends were no longer persecuted in Maryland, and in 1705 Esther Palmer, a Quaker missionary, visited Ann Arundell County. She said she found the Quakers there had “planted the theory of the Inward Light deeply and intensively.” However, it took until 1777 for the Quakers to outlaw slavery. It may seem strange to us to think of Quakers as slaveholders instead of abolitionists, but at this time, slavery was so ingrained in the New World. Some Quakers were converted slaveholders, and some coming into the colony from elsewhere adopted the practice when the settled in Maryland. Looking at the wills left from Maryland Quakers between 1669 and 1750, we can see at least 42% of them owned slaves. Not only are the Maryland records of the Society of Friends silent on the practice for the first 100 years, on occasion the Quaker meeting itself benefited from the institution of slavery. Mordecai, being a large land owner in the area, was one of these Quaker slave-owners.

There are two records regarding Mardecai’s slave-ownership in the Ann Arundell County Judgement Records, 1703-1765. This first is on page 4, and it describes the results of an affair of an indentured White woman, Sarah, and Mordecai’s slave, Daniel. At this time white men simply did not mention if they had urges for women other than those they were married to, like Benjamin Franklin. He notoriously told a young man seeking advice, to leave his fiance at he altar and bed as many elderly women as possible. Ben also liked to party in France with very pretty young, but “low” women. However, while men were able to brush these things aside, even if with a slave, women were still to be chaste always. Think of Hester, and her scarlet A, and now imagine if this had been earned with a African-American man. Unfortunately for Sarah, she could not hide the product of her affair quite like a man could in her day.

“2 January 1703
Her Majesty vs Sarah Dyamond
… presented a Mallato Bastard … declaring that one Daniel, a Negro belonging to Mordecai Price, was the begetter of the said Mallato Child … this 13 January 1702 that said Sarah Dyamond … fifteen lashes … master delivered her up to the Court after expiration of her term to serve as the law directs.”

Then, again, in 1704, page 323 tells us the conclusion of this episode:

“14 March 1704
“Sarah Dimant [Dymond] having had a Mullato bastard girl and being thereby obliged to serve the county seven years in compliance with the act of assembly providing against such unnatural copulations is by her former master Mordecai Price now surrendered to the Court”

We see slavery with 21st Century eyes, and the knowledge of the past to guide our view. However, for Mordecai, this was only a few years after the 1664 law sanctioning slavery and requiring slaves to be so for life. Additionally, while today we see all slavery as wrong, we do not have any records of the thoughts of Mordecai on the institution of slavery. We also do not know how his slaves were treated, although we can see some of his actions. For instance, Sarah could have expected a very harsh treatment for what the Court deemed “such unnatural copulations”. She received 15 lashes and seven years of servitude. Since she was a White woman, and slavery in Maryland was in full-swing, we can assume Sarah was a free woman before her affair. However, we do not know if she was having an affair by our standards at all. It says nothing about her committing adultery, which Quakers would have been sure to also charge her with in a scenario of this nature. Therefore, we can also assume she was a single woman. Daniel may have been a handsome or charming man, and they may have not considered their relationship an affair as much as a marriage, although obviously at the time neither would have spoken of it, and perhaps that is the reason we do not see Daniel punished. The alternative to this is Sarah not being a willing participant, in which case we might expect to see this as a defense, and we would certainly hope not to see her living in the same household as a man who took her virtue against her will.

Then, again, maybe why we don’t see the punishment of Daniel is the same reason we do see Sarah being released from the house of Mordecai Price. I am likely putting on my rose-colored glasses to tell this story, but I like to think Mordecai was trying to follow his faith in a time when the Christian faith was taking many paths which we consider unnerving today. I think what we can read in these documents and the life of Mordecai is a man who did not see slavery and his faith in opposition until later in his life. I would like to think he owned Daniel and allowed him to marry Sarah and live as a family. Then, maybe, when the town saw Sarah’s baby and realized what was going on, he gave her the chance to keep her family together the only way he could: by taking ownership of her as well. I would also like to think Mordecai offered the Court the punishment of 15 lashes to satisfy the people who were so angry at this act, and this couple.

Regardless of Mordecai’s views on slavery, he does not oppose the Friend’s ban on the practice. Sixty-two years before Quakers outlawed slavery, Mordecai died at the age of 55. He died on the 8th of May, 1715, at his home. His wife, Mary took ownership of his estate on December 20, 1715, but she died three years later, in 1718. The estate then passed to their children, and a friend named Edward Parrish, Sir. At this time, they were likely meeting at the Gunpowder Meeting House. It is also likely they were buried there, in Baltimore County, Maryland. The Price family is all over America, and has multiplied from the first few brothers, including my ancestor, Andrew, who came such a long way.

The Price Coat of Arms (2 of 2)

The Price Coat of Arms (2 of 2)

How is Mordecai related to Nixon, my mother-in-law and myself? Well, follow along…

I won’t go through the line of Mordecai to Nixon, but this is available online, at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, in the White House Special Collection Folder (Box 9, Folder 16). It is 88 pages, but I am sure other family trees for him exist online in a more condensed medium. In the Special Collection, Mordecai is ancestor number 432 and Mary is 433 in Nixon’s line.

As for my mother-in-law… Mordecai is my husband’s 8th Great-Grandfather.
Mordecai’s fifth son was Benjamin Price.
Benjamin was the father of Abraham Price.
Abraham was the father of Mariah Mary “Polly” Price.
Mariah married Henry J. Evans. They are the parents of Richard Evans.
Richard was the father of Thomas Boone Evans.
Thomas was the father of Lelia Sarah Evans.
Lelia married Joshua Willard Bogie. They are the parents of Walter Finis Bogie.
Walter is the father of Walter William Bogie.
This Walter is the father of Christine Hurst, who is my mother-in-law.

Lastly, Mordecai is my 8th Great-Grandfather also, but from another son of Mordecai.
Mordecai’s second son was John Price.
John was the father of John B. Price.
John B. was the father of Merriman Price.
Merriman was the father of another John B. Price.
This John B. Price was the father of John Abernathy Price.
John Abernathy was the father of James W. Price.
James was the father of Effie Price.
Effie married Ballard Craddock. They were the parents of my grandmother, Zella Louise Craddock Webb Martin.

Peter Kimball: He Gave Us Liberty …

Happy (almost) Independence Day!!

The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America

The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America

As Americans we often have trouble imagining being ruled by a king or queen. Especially lately, much attention has been given to our liberties and freedoms. These are important conversations because those who put the laws in place intended them to be living and dynamic; able to change as the people they govern change. Sometimes, though, we loose sight of how new and different those laws were when they were laid out before the Continental Congress. Personal liberty wasn’t just a new concept – it was down right weird. Sure, England had a tradition of its people having some influence over how they are governed, but never in history have people been sovereign. These crazy men and women wanted to make something based on the ideas and theories.

By the time Americans wanted their independence, they had already made several efforts to stay with the crown. After all, they were British. They didn’t see themselves as being any different from their cousins across the pond. But they were different: very different. Americans were healthier and lived longer than their English counterparts. Most were several generations removed from the homeland. So while they thought of themselves as British, those in Europe did not agree. These silly colonists thought they deserved equality. They were not equal, according to the British. The colonists were always asking for more. England was spending a fortune fighting Native Americans and the French for these ungrateful colonists and now they didn’t even want to pay the small taxes the Crown asked from them.

We wanted to pay taxes, we always had, but we wanted to have a say in the taxes we paid. They let other British holdings have a place in parliament, and we just wanted the same. Instead, we are treated like the second-class citizens we were viewed as, despite having more wealth and prosperity. Fueled by the ideals of the Enlightenment, we went out on a limb. A very far out limb. History books paint a picture of all colonists wanted this severance from their homeland and Crown.

The truth: it was a scary proposition to accept. Without British support, at best we were exposed to Native American, French, and Spanish attacks. Merchants feared for their businesses, too. Most of what they sold was to England and without that market, business could go bad quick. Farmers wondered if their crops could still be sold to the merchants. Liberty and freedoms seemed great, but it would take so much sacrifice, many wondered if it was worth the price.

Peter Kimball knew it was. Born in Sussex, New Jersey, Peter was a teenager, in the middle of the area where the most ardent supporters of a revolution were, and he must have overheard innumerable conversations around him about these issues. His father was born in America, too, and Peter must have felt more like an American than some. We are not sure when Peter signed up with his local militia, but we do know he was ready and willing, from the beginning of the revolution, to fight for the freedom of children he would someday have, and all those who would follow after them. Making him even more special: he was only 16 years old at the time! When I was 16, I was excited to get to drive, and hanging out with my friends. When Peter was 16, he was preparing for war with the strongest, biggest, and best army in the entire world, and signed up with the First Regiment of the New Jersey militia in 1776. Peter served under Col. Mark Thompson, and together they stood up to the powerful Redcoats.ba7c41f2-3eb7-4948-b7c4-b4e78e8a4504

His first orders were:

“1 September, Sunday. We were ordered to be in readiness to march at a minute’s warning. The soldiery were ordered to cook 2 days provisions and were prevented attending religious exercises.”

Upon enlisting, Peter was given one felt hat, a pair of yarn stockings, and shoes. He was to provide his own arms. On the 25th of October, 1776, Peter’s regiment was inspected. The commissioners found the men and boys “destitute of many articles of dress, supplies of every kind they want, but shoes and stockings they are in the last necessity for, many having neither to their feet. After suffering devastating defeats by the British army in and around New York City, Washington’s bedraggled army in November and December of 1776 fled through New Jersey and across the Delaware River with the British in pursuit. During the next months, local militiamen harassed the British by intercepting supplies, ambushing, and more, while camped at Morrison, New Jersey. These militiamen were exposed to death from the British, Natives who sided with the British, starvation, disease, and extreme weather. Peter probably still didn’t have shoes, but wrapped his feet in bandages and old cloths. Maybe he later got a pair of boots from another soldier who had died, maybe this was his friend. These were hard and desperate times, and I sometimes wonder how often each man thought of just leaving – going home – going back to when they weren’t watching their friends dying, watching their feet turn black and their toes fall off, and watching their opponents seem to have little suffering compared to what they were experiencing. But, Peter, and his fellow soldier, didn’t leave. A 16-year-old kid stayed through all of this, and more, and witnessed horrors I cannot begin to imagine so I could live in this grand experiment of American liberty.148731791-H

On the 9th of September, in 1777, Peter was 17 and at the Battle of Brandywine. Washington placed his troops, including Peter, along the Brandywine River to guard the main fords. By placing detachments of troops at Pyle’s Ford — the southernmost possible crossing of the river — and Wistar’s Ford — the northernmost crossing of the river before it forked — Washington hoped to force a fight at Chadds Ford, an advantageous position. Washington believed that he had all of the fords along the Brandywine guarded by his troops and that the closest unguarded ford was twelve miles up-river. Washington was confident that the area was secure.

The Battle of Brandywine

The Battle of Brandywine

On September 11th the battle began with a heavy fog which blanketed the area, providing cover for the approaching British troops. When the fog cleared, the sun blazed and the heat was sweltering. The first reports of British troop movements indicated to Washington that Howe had divided his forces, and in the confusion Washington persisted in the mistaken belief that the British were sending their entire force against his line at Chadds Ford. By mid-afternoon the British had crossed the river at the unguarded ford to the north of Washington’s force and they had gained a strategic position near Birmingham Friends Meeting House. When the British appeared on the American right flank, Washington realized that he had been outmaneuvered. He ordered Peter and his army to take the high ground around Birmingham Friends Meeting House as a last defense. Unfortunately, in the confusion caused by the surprise, the Americans were unable to successfully defend their position. The Americans fought valiantly, but they had been outwitted on the rolling hills along the Brandywine. Nightfall finally brought an end to the battle. The defeated Americans retreated to Chester. The bulk of the army arrived by midnight with the remainder trickling in until dawn.



Philadelphia now belonged to the British army, and the Continental Congress had fled. A couple of weeks later, on the 4th of October, 1777, Peter fought in the Battle of Germantown. On the night of October 3, four converging American columns, including Peter and the New Jersey militia, began a sixteen-mile march towards Germantown. The fighting began at 5:30 on the morning of the 4th. By the afternoon, they were running low on ammunition and seemed to start to unravel. One column had trouble finding its way and failed to reach the battlefield. A second column fired at, but did not charge, the enemy camp. The column tasked with attacking the center of the British camp, led by General John Sullivan, was the first to engage the British in spirited combat. Sullivan’s column caught the British pickets by surprise and succeeded in driving back the startled British army.

The Battle of Germantown

The Battle of Germantown

The tide of the battle turned, however, when the last column, commanded by General Nathaniel Greene, entered the fray. Greene’s column had farther to travel than the center column and so had gotten a later start. By the time it reached the British camp, the field was obscured by a thick fog and gun smoke, and Sullivan’s column had already pushed well into the British camp, into Greene’s path. The two American columns stumbled into each other and, unable to make visual contact, fired upon each other. (It didn’t help that the commander of one of Greene’s divisions, General Adam Stephen, was noticeably intoxicated when he brought his men into the battle.) By the time the two columns realized what had happened, they faced a punishing counter-assault from the British that drove them from the field. During the grinding five-hour battle, Washington’s casualties numbered 152 killed, 521 wounded, and approximately 400 captured. Howe’s losses included 70 killed and 451 wounded. Still, the British were greatly surprised that an opponent whom they believed was beaten could launch such a fierce attack. Once again, though, Peter Kimball was alive.

Despite the defeat at Germantown, Washington could take solace in the fact that the soldiers of his Continental Army conducted themselves well in the heat of battle. The professionalism and discipline displayed by the American army had improved noticeably since the American Revolution began. Shortly after the Battle of Germantown, Washington’s army retired to a winter camp at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where–with help from the Prussian General Von Steuben (a shady character, who came from suspicious origins, but did much to bring the continentals into being a standardized army)–it was able to further hone its skills and emerge the next year a superior force. Peter fought to the end, and was 23 years old when the American Revolution was finally done. He married Eve Kouse two years later, in 1785.Pennsylvania U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798 for Peter Kimball

After Peter and Eve married, they continued to live in Sussex County, New Jersey, where Margaret and John Kimble were born. In 1798 they moved from Sussex County, New Jersey to Buck County Pennsylvania, and to them were born there Anna, Mary, Peter, Elizabeth, Henry, William and Jacob Kimble. In 1811 they moved from Bucks County, Penn to Lycoming County, Penn to what was Muncy Township but now is known as Upper Fairfield Township. Eve died there March 15th, 1828 age 63 years. Peter then went to live with Jacob Kimble in the same township, 10 miles from Williamsport, PA. He died there March 30, 1846 at the age of 86 years. They are buried at what is known as Buckley’s Cemetery, eight miles from Williamsport, PA.

Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1779-1863 for Peter Kimball

Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1779-1863 for Peter Kimball

We hear about the triumphs and hardships of George Washington and his army often in reference to the American Revolution. However, history books tend to focus on the leaders of the battles and armies. Peter Kimball is a great example of the average American who believed so intently in the ideas of the Revolution, he took up arms, and followed Washington through Hell. Then, he went home, married, had children, and lived out his life knowing he did his part to establish this grand experiment of the United States, and he left it up to us to ensure it continues.

The Tombstone for Peter Kimball

The Tombstone for Peter Kimball

From Peter Kimball to Me

From Peter Kimball to Me

Abraham “The Scot” Martin: He Helped Found Quebec …

Monument de des premiers Pionniers de la Nouvelle France [Monument of the first Pioneers of New France]

Monument de des premiers Pionniers de la Nouvelle France
[Monument of the first Pioneers of New France]

We are going to take a trip from Europe to the Great White North of the New World with Abraham Montpellier Martin dit L’ecossais. His life is not all that straight forward and different sources record various accounts of Abraham, his family, and his homeland.

Abraham Martin is Found in French Canadian History Books

Abraham Martin is Found in French Canadian History Books

Most sources accept him as having been born about 1589 in Montpellier, LaRochelle, France. His father was Jean Galleran Martin, known as “The Merchant of Metz”, and Jean was likely born at Metz, Lorraine, France. His mother was Isabel Cote.

The difficulty of the colonial undertaking has led some historians to assert that poverty was the main cause of migration. French historian Robert Mandrou is in this camp. He explains departures from La Rochelle by referring to periods of trouble, famine or crisis: “The indentured therefore only came voluntarily to the port of La Rochelle during difficult years.”

La Rochelle, France

La Rochelle, France

Analyzing the same departures, Louis Pérouas, a specialist in urban history, links them instead to “periods when La Rochelle was experiencing both a moderate cost of living and expanding maritime commerce.” As a result, he comes to the opposite conclusion: “the colonial exodus would almost be an indicator of prosperity.”

Le Port de La Rochelle

Le Port de La Rochelle

While the modest circumstances of most immigrants cannot be denied, Pérouas is certainly right about the economic context of colonization, that is, a period of expanding French Atlantic trade in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is also significant that the few documented immigrants who formulated their motives emphasized the opportunities offered by emigration rather than their desperate situation. This is reflected in the testimony from Jean Galon, son of a Norman mason and roofer who left for Louisbourg “in the hope of earning a better living,” or Jean-Baptiste Lascorret, a young clerk working for a merchant in Bayonne, who thought it “more advantageous to come to this island (Cape Breton) where he was led to hope to soon make a small fortune.”

The crossing to New France was subject to all sorts of perils: weather, pirates, and illness among the crew and passengers. With these uncertainties, the duration of the crossing varied. In 1665, it took New France’s new Intendant, Jean Talon, 117 days to reach Québec; in 1678, the Arc-en-ciel made the trip in 35 days. Taking into account the requirements of the navigational season, it was better to set sail from France before May 1 and from Québec before the end of September. Since ships were not larger than 200 tonnes in the 17th century, accommodations on board were quite modest, and space was limited. Often, food and merchandise were spoiled by water seepage, and passengers had to make do with cold meals and soggy bedding. So great were the risks involved in reaching these far-off destinations, that surviving the dangers and perils of the sea depended as much on chance as on luck.

Abraham Montpellier Martin dit L'Ecossais

Abraham Montpellier Martin dit L’Ecossais

As for Abraham Montpellier Martin dit L’ecossais, I think he was interested in adventure. Why I believe this is in all in his name. Notice the end of his name, “dit L’ecossais”. In French, especially in this period, many men had their Christian names and a nickname: a “dit”. L’ecossais mean Scot or Scottish. So Anraham’s nickname was “the Scot”. This may come just from a street he lived on, he might have used the sobriquet if he had been enrolled in military service, or he might have been a member of an illegal organization: such names were used to avoid detection by officials looking for deserted soldiers or in case the records of an illegal organization were seized. It is also possible that he acquired the name because he had made several voyages to Scotland as a young man. It may also have been given to him because he assisted the Scottish settlers who began arriving in Port Charles (Port Royal) about 1628. Regardless, he was an adventurer, and seeking adventure brought him to New France.

Abraham arrived in New France with his wife, his sister, and his brother-in-law. They landed aboard the ship “Le Sallemandie” on August 30, 1620. This, however, was not his first trip to the New World. He had arrived before 1610, according to Cyprien Tanguay’s Dictionary Geneologique des Familles Canadiennes. He was employed, first, by the Company of Rouen as a pilot, and his payments from this allowed him to keep the assets he brought with him until needed. Afterward, he would apply himself to cultivating his lands.

In New France there were no privileged orders. This, indeed, was the most marked difference between the social organization of the home land and that of the colony. There were social distinctions in Canada, to be sure, but the boundaries between different elements of the population were not rigid; there were no privileges based upon the laws of the land, and no impenetrable barrier separated one class from another. Men could rise by their own efforts or come down through their own defaults; their places in the community were not determined for them by the accident of birth as was the case in the older land. Some of the most successful figures in the public and business affairs of New France, some of the social leaders, some of those who attained the highest rank in the “noblesse”, came of relatively humble parentage.

In France of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the chief officials of state, the seigneurs, the higher ecclesiastics, even the officers of the army and the marine, were always drawn from the nobility. In the colony this was very far from being the case. Some colonial officials and a few of the seigneurs were among the numerous “noblesse” of France before they came, and they of course retained their social rank in the new environment. Others were raised to this rank by the King, usually for distinguished services in the colony and on the recommendation of the governor or the intendant. But, even if taken all together, these men constituted a very small proportion of the people in New France. Even among the seigneurs the great majority of these landed gentlemen came from the ranks of the people, and not one in ten was a member of the “noblesse”. There was, therefore, a social solidarity, a spirit of fraternity, and a feeling of universal comradeship among them which was altogether lacking at home.

The pivot of social life in New France was the settlement at Quebec. This was the colonial capital, the seat of the governor and of the council, the only town in the colony large enough to have all the trappings and tinsel of a well-rounded social set. Here, too, came some of the seigneurs to spend the winter months. The royal officials, the officers of the garrison, the leading merchants, the judges, the notaries and a few other professional men–these with their families made up an elite which managed to echo, even if somewhat faintly, the pomp and glamor of Versailles. Quebec, from all accounts, was lively in the long winters. Its people, who were shut off from all intercourse with Europe for many months at a time, soon learned the art of providing for their own recreation and amusement. The knight-errant La Hontan speaks enthusiastically of the events in the life of this miniature society, of the dinners and dances, the salons and receptions, the intrigues, rivalries, and flirtations, all of which were well suited to his Bohemian tastes. But the clergy frowned upon this levity, of which they believed there was far too much. On one or two occasions they even laid a rigorous and restraining hand upon activities of which they disapproved, notably when the young officers of the Quebec garrison undertook an amateur performance of Moliere’s “Tartuffe” in 1694. At Montreal and Three Rivers, the two smaller towns of the colony, the social circle was more contracted and correspondingly less brilliant. The capital, indeed, had no rival.

View of Quebec

View of Quebec

Only a small part of the population, however, lived in the towns. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the census (1706) showed a total of 16,417, of whom less than 3000 were in the three chief settlements. The others were scattered along both banks of the St. Lawrence, but chiefly on the northern shore, with the houses grouped into “cotes” or little villages which almost touched elbows along the banks of the stream. In each of these hamlets the manor-house or home of the seigneur, although not a mansion by any means, was the focus of social life. Sometimes built of timber but more often of stone, with dimensions rarely exceeding twenty feet by forty, it was not much more pretentious than the homes of the more prosperous and thrifty among the seigneur’s dependents. Its three or four spacious rooms were, however, more comfortably equipped with furniture which in many cases had been brought from France. Socially, the seigneur and his family did not stand apart from his neighbors. All went to the same church, took part in the same amusements upon days of festival, and not infrequently worked together at the common task of clearing the lands. Sons and daughters of the seigneurs often intermarried with those of habitants in the seigneury or of traders in the towns. There was no social “impasse” such as existed in France among the various elements in a community.

Habitans de Canada [Inhabitants of Canada]

Habitans de Canada [Inhabitants of Canada]

As for the habitants, the people who cleared and cultivated the lands of the seigneuries, they worked and lived and dressed as pioneers are wont to do. Their homes were commonly built of felled timber or of rough-hewn stone, solid, low, stocky buildings, usually about twenty by forty feet or thereabouts in size, with a single doorway and very few windows. The roofs were steep-pitched, with a dormer window or two thrust out on either side, the eaves projecting well over the walls in such manner as to give the structures a half-bungalow appearance. With almost religious punctuality the habitants whitewashed the outside of their walls every spring, so that from the river the country houses looked trim and neat at all seasons. Between the river and the uplands ran the roadway, close to which the habitants set their conspicuous dwellings with only in rare cases a grass plot or shade tree at the door. In winter they bore the full blast of the winds that drove across the expanse of frozen stream in front of them; in summer the hot sun blazed relentlessly upon the low roofs. As each house stood but a few rods from its neighbor on either side, the colony thus took on the appearance of one long, straggling, village street. The habitant liked to be near his fellows, partly for his own safety against marauding redskins, but chiefly because the colony was at best a lonely place in the long cold season when there was little for any one to do.

Behind each house was a small addition used as a storeroom. Not far away were the barn and the stable, built always of untrimmed logs, the intervening chinks securely filled with clay or mortar. There was also a root-house, half-sunk in the ground or burrowed into the slope of a hill, where the habitant kept his potatoes and vegetables secure from the frost through the winter. Most of the habitants likewise had their own bake-ovens, set a convenient distance behind the house and rising four or five feet from the ground. These they built roughly of boulders and plastered with clay. With an abundance of wood from the virgin forests they would build a roaring fire in these ovens and finish the whole week’s baking at one time. The habitant would often enclose a small plot of ground surrounding the house and outbuildings with a fence of piled stones or split rails, and in one corner he would plant his kitchen-garden.

Within the dwelling-house there were usually two, and never more than three, rooms on the ground floor. The doorway opened into the great room of the house, parlor, dining-room, and kitchen combined. A “living” room it surely was! In the better houses, however, this room was divided, with the kitchen partitioned off from the rest. Most of the furnishings were the products of the colony and chiefly of the family’s own workmanship. The floor was of hewn timber, rubbed and scrubbed to smoothness. A woolen rug or several of them, always of vivid hues, covered the greater part of it. There were the family dinner-table of hewn pine, chairs made of pine saplings with, seats of rushes or woven underbark, and often in the corner a couch that would serve as an extra bed at night. Pictures of saints hung on the walls, sharing the space with a crucifix, but often having for ominous company the habitant’s flint-lock and his powder-horn hanging from the beams. At one end of the room was the fireplace and hearth, the sole means of heating the place, and usually the only means of cooking as well. Around it hung the array of pots and pans, almost the only things in the house which the habitant and his family were not able to make for themselves. The lack of colonial industries had the advantage of throwing each home upon its own resources, and the people developed great versatility in the cruder arts of craftsmanship.

Upstairs, and reached by a ladder, was a loft or attic running the full area of the house, but so low that one could touch, the rafters everywhere. Here the children, often a dozen or more of them, were stowed away at night on mattresses of straw or feathers laid along the floor. As the windows were securely fastened, even in the coldest weather this attic was warm, if not altogether hygienic. The love of fresh air in his dwelling was not among the habitant’s virtues. Every one went to bed shortly after darkness fell upon the land, and all rose with the sun. Even visits and festivities were not at that time prolonged into the night as they are nowadays. Therein, however, New France did not differ from other lands. In the seventeenth century most of the world went to bed at nightfall because there was nothing else to do, and no easy or inexpensive artificial light. Candles were in use, to be sure, but a great many more of them were burned on the altars of the churches than in the homes of the people. For his reading, the habitant depended upon the priest, and for his writing, upon the notary.

The great speckled loon from Newfoundland, 1735

The great speckled loon from Newfoundland, 1735

Clothing was almost wholly made at home. It was warm and durable, as well as somewhat distinctive and picturesque. Every parish had spinning wheels and handlooms in some of its homes on which the women turned out the heavy druggets or “etoffes du pays” from which most of the men’s clothing was made. A great fabric it was, this homespun, with nothing but wool in it, not attractive in pattern but able to stand no end of wear. It was fashioned for the habitant’s use into roomy trousers and a long frock coat reaching to the knees which he tied around his waist with a belt of leather or of knitted yarn. The women also used this “etoffe” for skirts, but their waists and summer dresses were of calico, homemade as well. As for the children, most of them ran about in the summer months wearing next to nothing at all. A single garment without sleeves and reaching to the knees was all that covered their nakedness. For all ages and for both sexes there were furs in plenty for winter use. Beaver skins were cheap, in some years about as cheap as cloth. When properly treated they were soft and pliable, and easily made into clothes, caps, and mittens.

Most of the footwear was made at home, usually from deerhides. In winter every one wore the “bottes sauvages”, or oiled moccasins laced up halfway or more to the knees. They were proof against cold and were serviceable for use with snowshoes. Between them and his feet the habitant wore two or more pairs of heavy woolen socks made from coarse homespun yarn. In summer the women and children of the rural communities usually went barefoot so that the soles of their feet grew as tough as pigskin; the men sometimes did likewise, but more frequently they wore, in the fields or in the forest, clogs made of cowhide.

On the week-days of summer every one wore a straw hat which the women of the household spent part of each winter in plaiting. In cold weather the knitted “tuque” made in vivid colors was the great favorite. It was warm and picturesque. Each section of the colony had its own color; the habitants in the vicinity of Quebec wore blue “tuques”, while those around Montreal preferred red. The apparel of the people was thus in general adapted to the country, and it had a distinctiveness that has not yet altogether passed away.

On Sundays and on the numerous days of festival, however, the habitant and his family brought out their best. To Mass the men wore clothes of better texture and high, beaver hats, the women appeared in their brighter plumage of dresses with ribbons and laces imported from France. Such finery was brought over in so large a quantity that more than one “memoire” to the home government censured the “spirit of extravagance” of which this was one outward manifestation. In the towns the officials and the well-to-do merchants dressed elaborately on all occasions of ceremony, with scarlet cloaks and perukes, buckled slippers and silk stockings. In early Canada there was no austerity of garb such as we find in Puritan New England. New France on a “jour de fete” was a blaze of color.

As for his daily fare, the habitant was never badly off even in the years when harvests were poor. He had food that was more nourishing and more abundant than the French peasant had at home. Bread was made from both wheat and rye flour, the product of the seigneurial mills. Corn cakes were baked in Indian fashion from ground maize. Fat salted pork was a staple during the winter, and nearly every habitant laid away each autumn a smoked supply of eels from the river. Game of all sorts he could get with little trouble at any time, wild ducks and geese, partridges, for there were in those days no game laws to protect them. In the early winter, likewise, it was indeed a luckless habitant who could not also get a caribou or two for his larder. Following the Indian custom, the venison was smoked and hung on the kitchen beams, where it kept for months until needed. Salted or smoked fish had also to be provided for family use, since the usages of the Church required that meat should not be used upon numerous fast-days.

Vegetables of many varieties were grown in New France, where the warm, sandy, virgin soil of the St. Lawrence region was splendidly suited for this branch of husbandry. Peas were the great stand-by, and in the old days whole families were reared upon “soupe aux pois”, which was, and may even still be said to be, the national dish of the French Canadians. Beans, cucumbers, melons, and a dozen other products were also grown in the family gardens. There were potatoes, which the habitant called “palates” and not “pommes de terre”, but they were almost a rarity until the closing days of the Old Regime. Wild fruits, chiefly raspberries, blueberries, and wild grapes, grew in abundance among the foothills and were gathered in great quantities every summer. There was not much orchard fruit, although some seedling trees were brought from France and had managed to become acclimated.

On the whole, even in the humbler homes there was no need for any one to go hungry. The daily fare of the people was not of great variety, but it was nourishing, and there was plenty of it save in rare instances. More than one visitor to the colony was impressed by the rude comfort in which the people lived, even though they made no pretense of being well-to-do. “In New France,” wrote Charlevoix, “poverty is hidden behind an air of comfort,” while the gossipy La Hontan was of the opinion that “the boors of these seigneuries live with, greater comfort than an infinity of the gentlemen in France.” Occasionally, when the men were taken from the fields to serve in the defense of the colony against the English attacks, the harvests were small and the people had to spend the ensuing winter on short rations. Yet, as the authorities assured the King, they were “robust, vigorous, and able in time of need to live on little.”

As for beverages, the habitant was inordinately fond of sour milk. Tea was scarce and costly. Brandy was imported in huge quantities, and not all this “eau-de-vie”, as some writers imagine, went into the Indian trade. The people themselves consumed most of it. Every parish in the colony had its grog-shop; in 1725 the King ordered that no parish should have more than two. Quebec had a dozen or more, and complaint was made that the people flocked to these resorts early in the morning, thus rendering themselves unfit for work during most of the day, and soon ruining their health into the bargain. There is no doubt that the people of New France were fond of the flagon, for not only the priests but the civil authorities complained of this failing. Idleness due to the numerous holidays and to the long winters combined with the tradition of hospitality to encourage this taste. The habitants were fond of visiting one another, and hospitality demanded on every such occasion the proffer of something to drink. On the other hand, the scenes of debauchery which a few chroniclers have described were not typical of the colony the year round. When the ships came in with their cargoes, there was a great indulgence in feasting and drink, and the excesses at this time were sure to impress the casual visitor. But when the fleet had weighed anchor and departed for France, there was a quick return to the former quietness and to a reasonable measure of sobriety.

Tobacco was used freely. “Every farmer,” wrote Kalm, “plants a quantity of tobacco near his house because it is universally smoked. Boys of twelve years of age often run about with the pipe in their mouths.” The women were smokers, too, but more commonly they used tobacco in the form of snuff. In those days, as in our own, this French-Canadian tobacco was strong stuff, cured in the sun till the leaves were black, and when smoked emitting an odor that scented the whole parish. The art of smoking a pipe was one of several profitless habits which, the Frenchman lost little time in acquiring from his Indian friends.

This convivial temperament of the inhabitants of New France has been noted by more than one contemporary. The people did not spend all their energies and time at hard labor. From October, when the crops were in, until May, when the season of seedtime came again, there was, indeed, little hard work for them to do. Aside from the cutting of firewood and the few household chores the day was free, and the habitants therefore spent it in driving about and visiting neighbors, drinking and smoking, dancing and playing cards. Winter, accordingly, was the great social season in the country as well as in the town.

The chief festivities occurred at Michaelmas, Christmas, Easter, and May Day. Of these, the first and the last were closely connected with the seigneurial system. On Michaelmas the habitant came to pay the annual rental for his lands; on May Day he rendered the Maypole homage which, has been already described. Christmas and Easter were the great festivals of the Church and as such were celebrated with religious fervor and solemnity. In addition, minor festivals, chiefly religious in character, were numerous, so much so that their frequency even in the months of cultivation was the subject of complaint by the civil authorities, who felt that these holidays took altogether too much time from labor. Sunday was a day not only of worship but of recreation. Clad in his best raiment, every one went to Mass, whatever the distance or the weather. The parish church indeed was the emblem of village solidarity, for it gathered within its walls each Sunday morning all sexes and ages and ranks. The habitant did not separate his religion from his work or his amusements; the outward manifestations of his faith were not to his mind things of another world; the church and its priests were the center and soul of his little community. The whole countryside gathered about the church doors after the service while the “capitaine de la cote”, the local representative of the intendant, read the decrees that had been sent to him from the seals of the mighty at the Chateau de St. Louis. That duty over, there was a garrulous interchange of local gossip with a retailing of such news as had dribbled through from France. The crowd then melted away in groups to spend the rest of the day in games or dancing or in friendly visits of one family with another.

Especially popular among the young people of each parish were the “corvees recreatives”, or “bees” as we call them nowadays in our rural communities. There were the “epuchlette” or corn-husking, the “brayage” or flax-beating, and others of the same sort. The harvest-home or “grosse-gerbe”, celebrated when the last load had been brought in from the fields, and the “Ignolee” or welcoming of the New Year, were also occasions of goodwill, noise, and revelry. Dancing was by all odds the most popular pastime, and every parish had its fiddler, who was quite as indispensable a factor in the life of the village as either the smith or the notary. Every wedding was the occasion for terpsichorean festivities which lasted all day long.

The habitant liked to sing, especially when working with others in the woods or when on the march. The voyageurs relieved the tedium of their long journeys by breaking into song at intervals. But the popular repertoire was limited to a few folksongs, most of them songs of Old France. They were easy to learn, simple to sing, but sprightly and melodious. Some of them have remained on the lips and in the hearts of the French-Canadian race for over two hundred years. Those who do not know the “Claire fontaine” and “Ma boule roulant” have never known French Canada. The “foretier” of today still goes to the woods chanting the “Malbrouck s’en va-t-en guerre” which his ancestors caroled in the days of Blenheim and Malplaquet. When the habitant sang, moreover, it was in no pianissimo tones; he was lusty and cheerful about giving vent to his buoyant spirits. And his descendant of today has not lost that propensity.

The folklore of the old dominion, unlike the folk music, was extensive. Some of it came with the colonists from their Norman firesides, but more, perhaps, was the outcome of a superstitious popular imagination working in the new and strange environment of the wilderness. The habitant had a profound belief in the supernatural, and was prone to associate miraculous handiwork with every unusual event. He peopled the earth and the air, the woods and the rivulets, with spirits of diverse forms and varied motives. The red man’s abounding superstition, likewise, had some influence upon the habitant’s highstrung temperament. At any rate, New France was full of legends and weird tales. Every island, every cove in the river, had one or more associated with it. Most of these legends had some moral lessons attached to them: they were tales of disaster which came from disobeying the teachings of the Church or of miraculous escape from death or perdition due to the supernatural rewarding of righteousness. Taken together, they make up a wholesome and vigorous body of folklore, reflecting both the mystic temper of the colony and the religious fervor of its common life. A distinguished son of French Canada has with great industry gathered these legends together, a service for which posterity will be grateful.(Sir J.M. Lemoine, Legends of the St. Lawrence (Quebec, 1878).)

Various chroniclers have left us pen portraitures of the habitant as they saw him in the olden days. Charlevoix, La Hontan, Hocquart, and Peter Kalm, men of widely different tastes and aptitudes, all bear testimony to his vigor, stamina, and native-born vivacity. He was courteous and polite always, yet there was no flavor of servility in this most benign trait of character. It was bred in his bone and was fostered by the teachings of his church. Along with this went a “bonhomie” and a lightheartedness, a touch of personal vanity, with a liking for display and ostentation, which unhappily did not make for thrift. The habitant “enjoys what he has got,” writes Charlevoix, “and often makes a display of what he has not got.” He was also fond of honors, even minor ones, and plumed himself on the slightest recognition from official circles. Habitants who by years of hard labor had saved enough to buy some uncleared seigneury strutted about with the airs of genuine aristocrats while their wives, in the words of Governor Denonville, “essayed to play the fine lady.” More than one intendant was amused by this broad streak of vanity in the colonial character. “Every one here,” wrote Meulles, “begins by calling himself an esquire and ends by thinking himself a nobleman.”

Yet despite this attempt to keep up appearances, the people were poor. Clearing the land was a slow process, and the cultivable area available for the support of each household was small. Early marriages were the rule, and families of a dozen or more children had to be supported from the produce of a few “arpents”. To maintain such a family as this every one had to work hard in the growing season, and even the women went to the fields in the harvest-time. One serious shortcoming of the habitant was his lack of steadfastness in labor. There was a roving strain in his Norman blood. He could not stay long at any one job; there was a restlessness in his temperament which would not down. He would leave his fields unploughed in order to go hunting or to turn a few “sous” in some small trading adventure. Unstable as water, he did not excel in tasks that required patience. But he could do a great many things after a fashion, and some that could be done quickly he did surprisingly well.

Abraham Martin Land Grant, 1635

Abraham Martin Land Grant, 1635

One racial characteristic which drew comment from observers of the day was the litigious disposition of the people. The habitant would have made lawsuits his chief diversion had he been permitted to do so. “If this propensity be not curbed,” wrote the intendant Raudot, “there will soon be more lawsuits in this country than there are persons.” The people were not quarrelsome in the ordinary sense, but they were very jealous each one of his private rights, and the opportunities for litigation over such matters seemed to provide themselves without end. Lands were given to settlers without accurate description of their boundaries; farms were unfenced and cattle wandered into neighboring fields; the notaries themselves were almost illiterate, and as a result scarcely a legal document in the colony was properly drawn. Nobody lacked pretexts for controversy. Idleness during the winter was also a contributing factor. But the Church and the civil authorities frowned upon this habit of rushing to court with every trivial complaint. “Cures” and seigneurs did what they could to have such difficulties settled amicably at home, and in a considerable measure they succeeded.

Instructional Report on the Method for Catching and Drying Fish on Isle Percée and eEsewhere, by Monsieur De Meull

Abraham was a seaman and fisherman when he arrived, and he took up his trade on the St. Lawrence River. By the 16th century, many French ships were crossing the ocean each year to fish the cod-rich waters of Canada’s Atlantic coast. Producers of morue verte [salt cod] fished on the high seas, gutting and salting their catch onboard ship. In the much more common sedentary fishery, which resulted in morue sèche [dried cod], the catch, taken just offshore, was cleaned and dried in buildings on the coast. During the 17th century, the French ran such operations in the Gaspé Peninsula, Acadia and on the largest scale, in Newfoundland. In 1660, the King established a fortified settlement and administrative headquarters on the southern part of the island, at Plaisance (Placentia), with the aim of supporting the cod industry, which was by this time a significant source of revenue for France. The labor, supplies and capital involved in these Atlantic fishing operations, together with the markets they supplied, remained primarily European. He rose to the rank of pilot and master of a company barque. He also did the first mapping of the St. Lawrence, although he could neither read or write. He was friends with Samuel de Champlain and Pierre Desportes. These men were well-born and well-educated, but Abraham could not even sign his name. He must have had a winning personality and a great work ethic. Abraham and his wife, Margaret, had a son in 1621, and this child is said to be the first birth in New France.

Articles Requested by Samuel de Champlain and Francois Grave Du Pont for the Capitulation of Quebec and Articles Granted, July 19 and August 19, 1629

Articles Requested by Samuel de Champlain and Francois Grave Du Pont for the Capitulation of Quebec and Articles Granted, July 19 and August 19, 1629

Back in 1629 England and France were still fighting for control of the North American lands. In that year the Kirke brothers captured Quebec for England. Champlain, Letardif, Martin and Langlois sailed to France, returning to Quebec in 1633 when Quebec was once again under French control. There are 9 children recorded for Abraham and Marguerite, but there is a gap between 1627 and 1635. Fichier Origine indicates that they also had a child in 1616 in France before they arrived on our shores, and then another in 1630 when they were back in France.

Abraham’s family, back in the new world, also became one of the first three families in New France to be granted land in Quebec City when they were presented with twelve acres by the Company of New France in 1635. He built his family a home on this land. The land is well-situated in the upper-town, but north of St-Genevive Hill (Grande Allee). It is said, “should a man take his animals down to the Charles River to drink, in taking the road of descent he would come to the Coast of Abraham”. This coast is where Abraham brought his animals to drink. His descendants sold two parcels of this land to the Ursuline Nuns after his death. Later in history, the Plains of Abraham, connected to this road, was the scene of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. This battle was part of the French and Indian War, which was, itself, part of the Seven Years’ War, and took place in 1759. Back in our story, in 1647, Abraham received the title of Royal Pilot. In the Jesuit Journals, in June 1647, is recorded:

“Master Abraham and two sons-in-law went to fish for seals. On the Eve of Saint-Jean, they caught four at I’lle Rouge [Red Island] of which they obtained six small barrels of oil.

“On new year’s day [1646], we gave four handkerchiefs to the wife of Abraham and to him a bottle of spirits.”

On January 19, 1649, the pioneers of New France were preparing for the first woman to be executed there. It is not clear what she was accused of, but before she was executed she managed to accuse someone else. In February, 1649, Quebec heard her accusation. It was announced the 60-year-old Abraham Martin, friend of the famed Champlain, and father of a large, respected family, was accused of a heinous crime. He was accused, by the 16-year-old girl being executed, of “conduite incorrecte enuvers une jeune fille”. He was accused of taking her honor by force. He also spent some time in prison for this, but how long is not clear. He likely did not spend long there, since the accuser had been convicted and his family did not suffer any decrease status or respect of the community.

Monument to Abraham Martin on the Plains of Abraham

Monument to Abraham Martin on the Plains of Abraham

Abraham also received 20 more parcels of land, making his plot 32 acres total, as a gift from Sieu Adrien du Chesne, a well-paid ship surgeon. Champlain, himself, bequeathed to Abraham 1,200 livres to clear land and settle his family. This will of Champlain, leaving the money to Abraham, is controversial. Champlain signed it is 1635, but the original was not discovered until 324 years later, in August of 1959 by an archivist. 600 livres was to be given to Abraham, directly, “with the charge of using it to clear land in this country of New France”, and the additional 600 to Abraham’s daughter, “to support her in marrying a man of this country and no other.” Having powerful friends helped Abraham have a much less difficult transition to the new world than most.

The Monument to Abraham Martin on the St. Lawrence River

The Monument to Abraham Martin on the St. Lawrence River

Abraham was 75-years-old, when he died on September 8, 1664. His wife died the following year, at 63-years-old. He had many children, at least two wives, and his descendants have populated much of North America, including Canada and the United States. Most of the French-speaking people in North America can trace their lines to Abraham and his son-in-law, Jean Coste Cote, including myself.



Abraham is my 11th Great Grandfather. He was the father of Anne Martin Cote.
Anne was the mother of Mathieu Cote.
Mathieu was the father of Mathieu Cote.
Mathieu was the father of Pierre Cote.
Pierre was the father of Louis Joseph Cote.
Louis was the father of Amable Cote.
Amable was the father of Louis Alexander Cote.
Louis Alexander was the father of Leon Cote.
Leon was the father of Joseph Cote.
Joseph was the father of Francis Xavier “Pete” Cote.
Francis was the father of Gertrude Cote.
Gertrude was the mother of William Kenneth Morrison, and William is my father.

Baptismal record of Anne Martin (Daughter of Abraham, and my ancestor) from Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967, Québec, Notre-Dame (baptêmes 1621-1679) image 10 of 93

Baptismal record of Anne Martin (Daughter of Abraham, and my ancestor) from Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967, Québec, Notre-Dame (baptêmes 1621-1679) image 10 of 93

Robert Overton: He Fought the Law, and the Law Won …

Robert Overton was born wanting for little, made important friends, and spend about 14 years in prison.

Robert Overton

Robert Overton

The son and heir of John Overton of Easington in south-east Yorkshire, Robert Overton was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge, and Gray’s Inn. In 1632, he married Ann Gardiner and with whom he had ten children. He was raised very comfortably.

Easington in East Riding Yorkshire, was a Puritan parish. Robert Overton attended puritan St.John’s College at Cambridge. It was at this same time that Thomas Fairfax attended St.John’s. At Christ College John Milton was attending and it was probably at this time that the Milton and Overton became friends.

Overton Hall,  Home of Robert Overton

Overton Hall,
Home of Robert Overton

Robert was born during a time in English History when the religious struggles within England would rent the nation apart and cover the land with bloodshed. The tension between King Charles I and the Parliament was building by 1639, when Charles I visited Hull to inspect the defences and arsenal and by 1642 the situation between the King and Parliament had reached a critical level. In anticipation of conflict, Charles I moved the Court to York, to be more near Hull, where Parliament was held. Charles sent his son, later James II, to Hull on 22 April, where he was entertained by the mayor. When Hotham, then governor of Hull, heard that the King was to arrive as well, he ordered the town gates closed and the King forbidden entry. Charles I, rebuked at Hull, travelled to Beverley, where he was joined by his son, James. Charles I declared Hotham a traitor and the Civil War of England began with a three week siege of Hull. The defenders of the town came out twice to attack the Royalists and succeeded in forcing them to lift the siege.

Execution of Charles I (30 Jan 1649)

Execution of Charles I (30 Jan 1649)

During the First Civil War, Overton served in Yorkshire under the Fairfaxes, distinguishing himself at the defence of Hull in 1643 and the battle of Marston Moor in 1644. By June of 1644, Fairfax had given Overton command of a foot regiment in the Northern Association. It is likeley that this regiment was one of those brought from Hull by Lord Ferdinando Fairfax and which took part in the defeat of Lord Belasyse’s forces at Selby the prior April. Overton and his regiment were certainly at the siege of York and the battle of Marston Moor, contemporarily called Hessay Moor. Milton describes their action in the battle:

“… when our left wing was put to rout, you were beheld with admiration, making head against the enemy with your brave infantry and repelling his attack, amid the thickest carnage”.

Sir Thomas Fairfax appointed him deputy-governor of Pontefract in August 1645; a few weeks later, Overton succeeded in capturing Sandal Castle in Yorkshire. During the summer of 1647, Fairfax secured a commission for Overton as colonel of an infantry regiment in the New Model Army. He became involved in the political unrest that swept through the army during 1647 and gained a reputation as a radical. When Fairfax appointed him governor of Hull early in 1648, the mayor and corporation petitioned for his removal because of his political and religious radicalism, though Fairfax continued to support him.

During the Second Civil War, Overton’s regiment fought under Cromwell in Wales and the north while Overton himself remained at Hull to secure the vital port and the surrounding region against the possibility of a sea-borne invasion by the Royalists. He apparently approved of the King’s trial and execution, though he did not serve as a commissioner at the trial. Overton and the officers of Hull issued a Declaration in January 1649 urging Fairfax to remain true to the principles agreed upon after the Putney Debates of November 1647. However, Overton was careful to disassociate himself from the Leveller mutinies that broke out in April and May 1649.

In 1650, Overton went with Cromwell’s army of invasion to Scotland and commanded an infantry brigade at the battle of Dunbar. In July 1651, he spearheaded Cromwell’s advance into Fife by establishing a bridgehead on the north bank of the Firth of Forth. Major-General Lambert consolidated the position and defeated the Scots at the battle of Inverkeithing, allowing Cromwell’s main force to advance on Perth. When Cromwell pursued the Scottish army into England, Overton stayed in Scotland with Lieutenant-General Monck, fulfilling various military and administrative roles. In December 1652, he was promoted to the rank of major-general and appointed commander of Commonwealth forces in western Scotland.

On the death of his father in 1653, Overton succeeded to his family estate at Easington and returned to Yorkshire. He resumed his duties as governor of Hull, which had again assumed strategic importance because of the Anglo-Dutch war. In recognition of his services, Parliament granted him estates in Scotland. He also purchased confiscated Crown lands. Overton supported Cromwell’s forcible dissolution of the Rump Parliament in April 1653, but was apprehensive over the establishment of the Protectorate the following December. He openly stated his misgivings at an interview with Cromwell during the spring of 1654, declaring that he would support the Protectorate providing that Cromwell’s personal interest did not conflict with the good of the nation.

Persuaded of Overton’s integrity, Cromwell approved his return to Scotland to resume his duties under General Monck. However, Overton also visited the conspirator John Wildman in London and kept up a correspondence with him from Scotland. Wildman and other radicals regarded Overton as a potential military leader for an uprising to restore the Commonwealth. He appears to have given tacit approval to a group of discontented officers in Aberdeen who prepared a circular convening a meeting to set out Army grievances against the Protectorate. When General Monck heard of the conspiracy, he sent for Overton to explain himself; when Overton did not come as ordered, Monck had him arrested. In January 1655, he was sent to London and committed to the Tower. In September 1654 Overton returned to his command in Scotland. In December 1654, Overton was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London for his part in the “Overton Revolt”. It was alleged that a verse in Overton’s handwriting, found amongst his papers:

“A Protector, what’s that? ‘Tis a stately thing,

That confesseth itself but the ape of a king:
A tragicall Cæsar acted by a clowne;
Or a brass farthing stamp’d with a kind of a crown:
A bubble, that shines; a loud cry without woole;
Not Perillus nor Phalaris, but the bull.
The eccho of monarchy till it come;
The but end of a barrell in the shape of a drum:
A counterfeit piece, that woddenly showes
A golden effigies with a copper nose.
The fantastick shadow of a sovereign head,
The arms royal revers’d, and disloyal instead.
In fine he is one, we may protector call,
From whom the king of kings protect us all.”

Leith, 3 January 1655.

This paper we found in major general Overton’s letter case among his papers, we being appointed to search his papers by the deputy governor there. Witness our hands,
William Newman,
William Collinson.

Overton-27-3In March 1658, he was moved from the Tower of London to Elizabeth Castle on Jersey.

Overton then petitioned his case:

Saturday, the 18th of June, 1659.

Overton’s Petition.

THE humble Petition of Robert Overton Esquire was this Day read.

Ordered, That this Petition be referred to the Committee of Colchester; to examine the Matter of Fact; and to report their Opinion, What they think fit to be done, as concerning the Sufferings of the Petitioner; and touching making good to Him, and His, the Donative of Five hundred Pounds per Annum given to the Petitioner by this Parliament, out of the Earl ofLeven’s Estate in Scotland; and touching the taking off the reserved Rent of One hundred Pounds per Annum, in Consideration of the Petitioner’s Damages: And that Mr. Darley and Mr. Anlaby be added to that Committee.

In February 1659, Overton’s wife and sister petitioned the Third Protectorate Parliament to hear his case. The petition was supported by many republicans and accompanied by letters from Overton’s old friend John Milton. On 16 March, Overton appeared before Parliament to protest his innocence. His imprisonment was declared illegal and he was released the same day.

According to the Journal of the House of Commons:

Thursday, 3d of February, 1658.

General Overton.

THE humble Petition of Grezill Williamson, Sister to Major-General Robert Overton, Prisoner in the Isle Jarsey, was this Day read.

General Overton.

Resolved, &c. That the Governor of the Isle of Jersey, or whosoever else hath the Person of Mr. Robert Overton, now a Prisoner there, in his or their Custody, do forthwith, upon Knowledge or Sight of this Order, bring him to this House, together with the Causes of his Imprisonment.

Resolved, &c. That the Commissioners of the Admiralty and Navy be required forthwith to give Order for a Frigate to attend at the Isle of Jarsey, to accommodate the Governor of that Isle, or whosoever else hath Mr. Robert Overton in his or their Custody, for the more safe Bringing of him from over thence to the Parliament: And Colonel Gibbon, one of the Members of this House, and Governor of the said Island, is to take care for the putting of these Orders concerning Mr. Overton, in speedy Execution.

Wednesday, the 16th of March, 1658:


The House being informed, that Major-General Overton, a Prisoner in the Isle of Jersey, who, by Order of this House, was brought from thence, was without, at the Door, with the Deputy-Governor of the said Isle, in whose Custody he was, attending on him; It was

Resolved, &c. That Major-General Overton be now called in.

The Orders of this House, for the Bringing of Major General Overton from Jersey to this House, were read: And, by the Command of the House, Major-General Overton was, by the Serjeant, brought to the Bar: The Deputy-Governor of the Isle of Jersey came in with him: And the Serjeant standing by them at the Bar with the Mace;

Mr. Speaker, by Command of the House, asked the Deputy-Governor his Name; and whether Major-General Overton was his Prisoner; and by what Authority. The Deputy-Governor answered, That his Name is Richard Yardley, Captain Richard Yardley; and that he is DeputyGovernor of the Isle of Jersey: That Major-General Overton is his Prisoner, by a Warrant from his late Highness. The Deputy-Governor was commanded to produce the Warrant: Which he did: And, by Command of the House, the Warrant was brought up, and delivered to Mr. Speaker: And the Deputy-Governor, being further asked, answered, That this Warrant is all he hath for the Imprisonment and Detainer of Major-General Overton.

Major-General Overton, being asked, If he had any thing to say concerning his Imprisonment, answered, that he did acknowledge it the great Mercy of God, that, after Four Years Imprisonment, he was now brought to this Bar: That, as he had been in a suffering Condition for Four Years, so he desired to be passive still: And that, when any Charge shall be brought in against him, he hopes he shall give such Answer to it, as shall satisfy and clear him from any former Mistakes and Misapprehensions concerning him: That he hoped he had not done any thing contrary to what he had at first engaged and fought for: That he desires not to live or die, but by the distributive Justice of this House: And, though he knows nothing by himself; and that he hopes he hath done nothing worthy of Death, or of Bonds; yet he will not justify himself; but most humbly leaves himself; his Cause, and his Condition, to this House. And then, by the Command of the House, the Deputy-Governor, and Major-General Overton, withdrew.

The Warrant for the Commitment and Detaining of Major-General Overton in the Isle of Jersey was read; and was signed “Oliver P.;” and directed to the Governor of the Isle of Jersey, or his Deputy; and was in these Words; viz.

THESE are to will and require you forthwith to receive into your Charge the Bodies of Robert Overton Esquire, MajorNorwood, and Sir Thomas Armestrong, and * Weston Esquire; and them detain, under secure Imprisonment, in the Castle at Jersey, until you shall receive further Order from us: And, for so doing, this shall be your Warrant. Given atWhitehall the 8th of January 1657.

The Question was propounded, That the Commitment and Detainer of Robert Overton Esquire, as well because it is by a Warrant under the Hand of the Chief Magistrate alone, as because it is by a Warrant wherein there is no Cause expressed, is illegal and unjust: And that he be discharged of his Imprisonment:

And the Question being propounded, That, after the Words “Robert Overton Esquire” these Words, “and others,” be added, as Part of the Question;

The Question was put, That this Question for the Addition be now put:

And it passed with the Negative.

And then the main Question being put; It was

Resolved, &c. That the Commitment and Detainer of Robert Overton Esquire, as well because it is by a Warrant under the Hand of the Chief Magistrate alone, as because it is by a Warrant wherein there is no Cause expressed, is illegal and unjust: And that he be discharged of his Imprisonment.

Resolved, &c. That Robert Overton Esquire be discharged of his Imprisonment, without paying any Fees.

  1.  Overton, and the Deputy-Governor of the Isle of Jersey, were, by the Command of the House, called in again: And the Serjeant standing by them at the Bar, with the Mace, Mr. Speaker, by the Command of the House, informed them, That the House had considered of Mr. Overton’s Imprisonment; and had ordered, That he should be discharged, without paying any Fees: And that the Deputy-Governor was to take notice thereof.
  2. Friday, 29th July, 1659.

Gen. Overton.Colonel Rich reports from the Committee to whom the Petition of Major-General Overton was referred, That, 14 May1652, it was resolved by this Parliament, That Lands of Inheritance in Scotland, of the clear yearly Value of Five hundred Pounds, be settled upon Colonel Robert Overton, and his Heirs, reserving the yearly Rent of One hundred Pounds to the Use of the Commonwealth: That Richard Saltenstall and Samuell Desbrowe, Commissioners for Sequestrations and confiscated Estates in Scotland, appointed by the Commissioners of Parliament of the Commonwealth of England for ordering and managing Affairs in Scotland, to whom it was referred to set forth the said Lands, and to put him in quiet Possession thereof, did, by their Deed, and their Hands and Seals, bearing Date the Twenty-third of September 1652, set out to the said Colonel Robert Overton, and his Heirs, the Manor-House of Inch Martin, with all the Appurtenances thereof, and divers other Lands in the said Deed expressed, late belonging to the Earl of Leven, of the true yearly Value of Five hundred Pounds Sterling: and thereby reserved One hundred Pounds Rent yearly for the Use of the Commonwealth; and thereof quiet Possession was given to the said Robert Overton the Seventeenth Day of September following, as by Livery indorsed upon the said Deed, appeareth.

By virtue whereof the said Robert Overton entered and received the next Year’s Rent at Two Half-years Payments; but afterwards the late General Cromwell, calling himself Protector, did oust the said Robert Overton of his said Lands, and caused General Monck, by his Order, to put the said Earl of Leven in Possession; who hath so continued about Five Years, to the Damage of the said Robert Overton, Two thousand Pounds.

Whereupon the Committee humbly present it to the Parliament, as their Opinion, That the said Robert Overton of Right ought to be re-invested and re-possessed of the Lands; and that Order be made to the Commander in Scotland for doing thereof: And that the said One hundred Pounds yearly Rent, reserved to be paid to the Commonwealth, be also settled upon the said Robert Overton, and his Heirs for ever, in Satisfaction of his Loss and Damage sustained, by being out of Possession of the said Lands for about Five Years.

All which they humbly leave to the Consideration of the Parliament.

The humble Petition of Alexander Earl of Leven was read.

Ordered, That this Report be re-committed: And that the Petition of the Earl of Leven be referred to the said Committee; and that they examine Matter of Fact; and state it; and report it to this House; and also to consider of the Losses and Sufferings of Major General Overton, as well by Loss of the Mesne Profits, as otherwise; and how he may have Satisfaction; and present their Opinion therein to this House: And that Mr. Say, Sir James Harrington, Mr. AldermanPennington, and Sir Thomas Wroth, be added to that Committee.

After the fall of the Protectorate and the reinstatement of the Rump Parliament in May 1659, Overton was restored to his regiment and the governorship of Hull. He attempted to mediate between the contending factions in the Army high command, issuing a pamphlet called Humble and Healing Advice in November 1659 which called for unity and a peaceful settlement. As the Restoration of the monarchy became increasingly likely, he strengthened the fortifications of Hull and called upon the troops in Yorkshire to stand firm in defence of the “Good Old Cause”. However, he was unable to gain enough support to present a serious challenge to General Monck, who named a new governor of Hull and ordered Overton to London, where he obediently arrived on 18 March 1660.

The Memorial to Robert Overton

The Memorial to Robert Overton

As a notorious republican and religious radical, Overton was viewed with extreme suspicion after the Restoration. He was arrested in December 1660 at the first hint of a conspiracy against the new government. He was imprisoned at Chepstow Castle until January 1664 when he was once again sent to Jersey, where he remained until December 1671. Overton spent his last years with his daughter Anne Broughton and her husband at Seaton in Rutland.

Below are letters contained within the State Papers of John Thurloe about Robert and the times in which he lived:

General Monck to secretary Thurloe.

V. xxii. p. 65.

I Received yours of the 26th of December with the duplicat you sent inclosed therein. I have lately secured major Bramston and Mr. Otes with some others. I have now sent my lord copies of some dangerous papers found about them. I send you heere inclosed some papers concerning col. Overton, of which I desire you to acquaint his highness my lord protector. All things heere are soe quiet, that I hope you will heare of noe more stirrs among ourselves, or from the Scots; for Midleton with about 12 men are gon into the isle of Skey, whence they intend to goe in a dogger boate for beyond the seas, notwith standing that hee had sent a trumpeter to col. Fitche, in order to his comeing in, and makeing his peace. As I heare (though I have noe letter of it) col. Overton is secured at Dundee, who (I hope) shall bee speedily with you. I remaine

Dalkeith, 2d January1654.

Your most affectionat servant,
George Monck.

Col. Overton to the protector.

V. xxii. p. 69.

May it please your highnesse,
It is now neere fix weeks since I receaved your commaundes for my speedy repaire to this place, where I doubted not but that my dispatch woulde have bin as quick as my call from the North was unexpected; whereunto I hope the readiness of my obedience and tediousness of attendance hath in sum acceptable measure answered your highnesse’s expectations, for which I still stand bounde to ad to my former endevours such fresh evidences of my sidelity, as may, I hope, satisfye the most curious inquirers into my actions.

And though, my lorde, noe innocency can be foe confidently secure, but without betraynge itselfe it may lawfully with to stand in the eye of favour, yet I trust my behaviour hitherto hath been sutch, as before disenterested judges will beare mee up against the reportes or misrepresentations of all delators. If any expressions have through the freedome, which wee fought for, fallen from mee, I shall desire noe more ingenuity in my adversaries constructions, than what my 14 yeares faithfull services will warrant me to clayme.

But sutch, my lord, is my misfortune, that I am yet kept hoodwinkt as to the cause of my attendance; and all that I can grope out in this darknesse is, that my condition resembles that of Cremutius in Tacitus, verba mea arguuntur, adeo factorum innocens.

But I am yet bold to beleeve, I am happier in my judge, than hee was; and woulde your highnes vouchsase to ad a litle expedition to your wonted condissention, I shoulde quickly putt a period to all the trouble, that you might further in this respect receive from

Your highness’s humble and obedient servant.

  1. Overton and col. Allured to the protector.

May it please your highnesse,
It is a virtue not to be over forwarde, and may cum within the compasse of a crime or accusation to be too flowe in selfe–concernments. But knoweinge in part the pressures which are upon you, it mighte be an argument of ill manners in us to be over–importunate for a dispatche; yet not to be somethinge sensible of the same after soe tedious an attendance, might begett an opinion, that wee were in some respect supinely negligent of publique or private imployments, if not in some other kinde culpable. Therefore wee still, my lorde, with as mutch patience as we may, attende upon your pleasure, not doubtinge in the interim but our fidelitys will defend themselves againste all misprisions or reportes whatsoever. Wee therefore hope your highnesse will no longer exercise our patient expectations with delayes, for wee are tender of that reputation, which you may as to men bothe give and take away Whilste wee are under suspence, innocence may suffer and be shaken, thoughe in the interim it inwardly beare up against time and detraction. Whatsoever hath occasioned our cominge and continewance here, wee humbly crave an impartiall audience and a speedy dispatch, and therefore wee once more beseeche youre highnesse to give us some result, that foe our attendance may in time attaine its honest end; it being in your highnesse power to period the tediousness wee are under, and therein the uncomfortablenesse of our condition, not knoweinge the occacion thereof. Sir, if God fee it good, wee may probably in peace or warr witnesse once more to the worlde in all uprightnesse and integrity, how mutche we are and may be

Your highnesse’s assured servants,
R. Overton,
Math. Allured.

Col. Overton to lord Lambert.

V. xxii. p. 75.

My Lorde,
I am still a patient expectant: hearein my integrity is accompanied with a chearefull submition to my attendance, in attaineinge my honest ends and aimes for puttinge a period thereunto. I suppose very mutch is in your lordship’s power: therefore lend your assistance, I beseech you, fir, (foe spedily as your important imployments may permitt) to move his highnesse the lord protector to consider the frequencie of my attendance the * * * of my concernments, and the uncomfortablenesse of my condition in not knowinge the cause of my cominge hither or continewance heare, that foe, if God fee it good (as in former, foe in future service) I may make acceptable to your honourable ends and aimes,

Your lordshipp’s assured servant.

  1. Overton to lord Disbrowe.

Right honorable,
Though I am a stranger to you, yet incouraged by your late unexpected civilities, haveinge layne heare now almoste fix weekes to receive his highnesse’s commands, I make bolde to request your honor to be foe farr effectualymoveinge for mee, that I may not withoute just cause to the contrary be kept from my commaunde, my fidelity wherein, accordinge to the publique or private trust reposed in mee, if my 14 yeares faithfull services will not warrant, lett me be otherways att pleasure disposed of; but if this will not doe, there is a God, att whose feete I shall fitt downe, and submitt to his commaunde, rather than my owne choyce. He that fetts us the bounds of our habitation, culls oute allsoe for us the portion of our employments. This free agent is not tyed up to any instrument, but can carry on his worke withoute us as well as with us. Thus, sir, you fee I can a little comfortte my selfe; for whilst wee are sufferinge, our father’s will is doinge: wherefore, shoulde the forum fori be shutt againste mee, yet the forum poli is open to mee, that foe I may unbosome myself to a prayer–hearinge God, that hee will heare and cause my innocencie to shine forth as the sunne att noone day; which is the assurance of, sir,

Your assured servant.

General Monk to the protector.


May it please your highnesse,
The last night col. Overton comeing in custody to Leith, I have this morneing sent him on board the Baseing frigott, whereof captaine Harley is commander, whom I have ordered to bring colonel Overton into the Hope. I send your highnesse heere inclosed copies of papers found with him, and particularly of verses written with his owne hand; reserving the papers themselves, untill I have conveniency to send them by a safe hand to your highness. The inclosed letter to col. Overton being intercepted, I thinke fit alsoe to send it to your highness.

Concerning major Bramston, I have noething against him but the papers (written with his owne hand) of which I lately sent copies to your highness. I doubt, if hee be brought to a court martial, those papers will not bee there judged of soe much waight as to casshere him, (though I thinke hee deserves it) because he may denye it to bee his owne conceptions or first drawing.

Wherefore I humbly desire a signification of your highnesse’s pleasure, if I shall send that paper of major Bramston’s to your highness. I now send your highness a copie of some litle confused papers, written by mr. Oats’s owne hand, and found about him, when hee was search’d at Leith. I humbly take leave, and remaine

Dalkeith, 4 January, 1654.

Your highnesse’s
most humble and most
faithfull servant,
George Monk.

General Monck to the protector.

V. xxi. p. 566.

May it please your highness,
This is humbly to acquaint your highness, how farr I have proceeded since the recept of your highnesses last leter. I have sent orders to secure coll. Overton. I have given orders to major Bramston of coll. Morgan’s regiment, major Holmes of my owne regiment, and lieutenant Christopher Keamer of captain Simnell’s troope in coll. Thomlinson’s regiment, to repaire to your highness, being they are men, who are not so well affected to the government, as I could wish them.

And if there were any such designe, as your intelligence is of, I am sure coll. Overton could doe nothing in it without the assistance of the two majors before named: one of them, namely major Holmes, (when he was goeing) received the originall leter, of which the inclosed is a copy, and hee was soe honest as to send it to me, which I thought fit to make knowen to your highness. I keepe the originall leter to bee made use of against those, who subscribed it. I desire to knowe what to doe with those subscribers after being secured.

I humbly desire your highness to lett the three officers, who are ordered to come to your highness, knowe they were sent for by your Highnesse’s order, for they knowe nothing to the contrary, but they were soe sent for. They being out of the way, your business is secure enough. For commissary generall Whalley’s regiment, they are quartered soe farr in Caithness, and the waies are soe ill, that it is impossible for them all to come this winter; and if the commissary generall please to write to his major, hee will, I beleeve, let him know as much.

Major generall Lambert’s two troopes, that were in the Highlands, are now passed towards Kelsoe, for England; and (as I writ in my last by the express) Sir William Constable’s companys are not to bee expected at Hull these 14 daies, though they are uppon their marche, for the wether and wayes are very bad. When I have secured coll. Overton, I intend to putt something to the officers to signe, declaratory of their firmeness to the government. I desire to know what to doe with those, who refuse to signe it. There shal bee no care or diligence wanting heere, whereby I may express myself,

Dalkeith, 26 Decemb.1654.

Your highnesse’s
most faithfull and
most humble servant,
George Monck.

Inclosed in the preceding. Col. Overton to general Monck.

V. xxi. p. 560.

Right honorable,
I Received this day a leter from Mr. Clarke, dated the 19th current; in the later end of which hee signifies, that hee cannot give me any accompt of the grounds of your sending for me hether; but receiving noe letter from your honour, I conceived, that either there was some mistake of Mr. Clarke’s, or that your letter miscarryed. I thought good therefore to send away this with all expedition; that soe I might understand your honour’s pleasure and commands, which (as soon as I receive them) shall speedily be put in execution by,

Aberdeen, 25 Decem. 1654.

Right honourable,
your honour’s most assured
faithfull servant,
Robert Overton.

  1. For the right honourable general Monk, at the head–quarters in Scotland.

An intercepted letter of col. Overton to a friend of his.

In the possession of the right honourable Philip lord Hardwicke, lord high chancellor of Great–Britain.

Dear Sir,
I Bless the Lord I do remember you and yours (by whom I am much remembred) so far as I am able in every thing. I know right well, you and others do it much more for me, and pray, dear Sir, do it still. Heave me up upon the wings of your prayers to him, who is a God hearing prayers and granting requests. Intreat him to enable me to stand to his truth, which I shall not do, if he deject or forsake me; which I know would not a little trouble you, and my many other christian friends. Yet when I remember the many past experiences I have had of the Almighty’s mercys and constant kindnesses towards me, I have hopes he will not now leave and forsake me in my most needfull time of trouble: the devil, like a swallow, may shew himself a summer freind; but God is for winter storms of tryal; and then he most assuredly makes our utmost extremities his happiest and most helpfull opportunities. I have in the late warrs resisted the common enemy of my country (through the Almightie’s mercy) to blood and frequent hazards of life; and since (blessed be his name) he hath carried me through reproaches, good and bad reports, loss of places, preferments, and rewards: but now perhaps the Lord will a little more shew his strength in my weakness, and try me with the temptation of skin for skin. If he do, I shall declare before hand, I shall fall, if he support me not by the right hand of his power; yet if he enable me truly to say, master save me, I am sure I shall not perish. He will, I trust, give patience and perseverance. I do endeavour to eye his glory, hoping that he will both quicken and quiet my spirit; and when men have spoiled me of all my martial places and profits, God can a thousand times repair the loss or those losses with the peace, which passeth all understanding. Or if I be called to seal the cause of God and my country with my blood, by suffering death, or by bearing any testimony to the interest of my nation and the despised truths of these times, he is able to support and save me, as the sun to shine upon me; yet all is to apply and believe, to have recourse to experiences; but above all to a reconciled God in Christ will do it. Oh that I could wrestle with him in prayer, as some Jacobs do at this day. And yet a father hears his infant’s voice as tenderly as those of stronger attainments. The Lord inable us, that though we be led into temptations, we may be delivered from all evill. I suppose by this you hear Sir William Constable’s regiment is marching for Hull; as also that I am sent for to London, col. Morgan coming down to command the northern forces. I wait for orders to march hence, and hear they are coming to me. God willing, they shall be readily obeyed. If I can but keep faith and a good conscience, I shall assuredly finish my course with joy. In the interim I trust I shall not need to fear what man can justly do unto me, for any thing I have done since my coming into Scotland. Therefore, my friend, in that respect let not your heart be troubled, but by your prayers commend me to his care and custody, who like a tender father leads his by the hand (as he did Israel) through all dark places, strengthening us in all our weaknesses. In the interim expect no more from me than I receive from my father, to whose care and eternal conservation I commend you, and remain

Aberdeen, December 26. 1654.

Your’s, whilst I am,
Robert Overton.

Robert Overton Memorial

Robert Overton Memorial

How am I related to Robert Overton? He is my 10th Great Grandfather:

He is the father of William Overton.

William is the father of Temperance Overton.

Temperance is the mother of William Harris.

William is the father of William Harris.

William is the father of Samuel B. Harris.

Samuel is the father of James Harris.

James is the father of Sarah Sally Harris.

Sarah is the mother of James Earnest McConlie Craddock.

James is the father of Ballard Craddock.

Ballard is the father of Zella Louise Craddock Webb Martin.

Zella is the mother of Diana P. Webb Morrison.

Diana is my mother.

Martha Jane Varner: A Quiet Life …

Greene County, Pennsylvania's Photos

Martha Jane Varner did not start any wars. She lived a quiet life in Pennsylvania and in West Virginia. Far from unimportant to history, though, her story can tell us what life was like for many people in the country at this time. And what a time it was! Martha Jane must have been a witness to the major transitions America was undergoing, and it appears she was directly effected by much of these transitions. She isn’t mentioned, by name, in any history books and most of what we know about Martha Jane comes from census records. However, as we use those records in the context of the changes facing America, we see a larger picture of the life of Martha Jane Varner.

Our Story Starts …

1850 U.S. Federal Census

1850 U.S. Federal Census

Martha Jane was born on the 30th of June, 1847, in Gilmore, Greene County, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Hiland (or Highland, or Hilent) Pilot Varner and Catherine “Kath” Varner. The first we see of Martha Jane is in the 1850 U. S. Federal Census. Martha Varner, 7, is listed as the daughter of Highland Varner. Highland was a farmer, who owned, at this time, real estate worth $700. He was 39 when she was born, her mother was 34, according to her birth records (40, according to the Federal Census that year). Martha also attended school in 1850.

Then we find Martha Jane listed again in the 1860 U. S. Federal Census. Martha was listed as 15 in 1860. Wait… if she was 7 in 1850, how could she only be 15 in 1860? Well, census takers had to do this all by hand, and foot, at this time. This means walking across West Virginia.

1860 U.S. Federal Census

1860 U.S. Federal Census

What could have gone wrong? Well, the Civil War may have played a role. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made aiding fugitive slaves illegal, punishable by a potential six-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. Refusing to help or impeding the capture of a fugitive slave also became a federal offense. The law also denied fugitive slaves the right to a trial by jury. Soon, slave catchers were aggressively pursuing fugitives throughout the North, sometimes kidnapping free African Americans to sell them into slavery in the South. Dixon Line, Pennsylvania was the target of several raids by the Confederate Army. These included cavalry raids in 1862 and 1863, another in 1863, and again in 1864, in which his troopers burned the city of Chambersburg. Fears were raised in Pittsburgh in the summer of 1863 when Morgan’s Raid approached Pennsylvania before it was thwarted in neighboring Ohio. Pennsylvania also saw the Battle of Gettysburg. A number of smaller engagements were also fought in the Keystone State. The city of York, in Pennsylvania became the largest Northern city to be occupied by Confederate troops in late June 1863.
Another problem for the Varner farm was farming in Pennsylvania was changing. Tobacco being the big crop before, by 1865 Pennsylvania was the largest sheep wool producer in the world. The move from planting to animal husbandry is not a small one for a farmer to make. This is when the sewing machine was readily available and the want for cotton and wool were at an all time high. At $700, the entire real estate of the Varner family was the cost of a space or two, so the farm they had wasn’t any kind of plantation. Likely, it was family worked, with one or two crops. an] economic crisis.”Since many banks had financed the railroads and land purchases, they began to feel the pressures of the falling value of railroad securities. The major railroad lines were all forced to shut down owing to the financial downturn. In addition to the decreasing value of railroad securities, farmers began to default on their payments on their mortgaged lands in the west, which put more financial pressure on banks. The prices of grain also decreased significantly and farmers of 1857 experienced a loss in revenue causing them to foreclose on recently purchased lands. Grain prices in 1855 skyrocketed to $2.19 a bushel and farmers began to purchase land to increase their crop supply, which in turn would increase their profits. However, by 1858, grain prices dropped severely to $0.80 a bushel. Many Midwest towns felt the pressures of the Panic. Regardless of how the farm failed, the Varners were now working on someone else’s farm.
Next, we see Martha Jane as a married woman. She married James W. Price on the 5th of August, in 1868. She was 21 years old. James and Martha Jane were married in the county of Richie in West Virginia. By 1870, James and Martha Jane had made a home for themselves in Walker, Wood County, West Virginia. Looking at the 1870 U. S. Federal Census, we find Martha Jane there, married to J. W. Price.
As West Virginia was one of the most rural states in the nation, agriculture played a major role in the local and statewide economy

Typical of Calhoun's Subsistence Farms During the Early Twentieth Century

Typical of Calhoun’s Subsistence Farms During the Early Twentieth Century

until the mid-twentieth century. Primarily, farming in West Virginia during this period was a family affair, involving a segregation of labor among the various family members. A successful farm operation required women to assume numerous roles ranging from full partner to manual laborer and performer of the most menial tasks. The evolution of women’s roles on the farm, the everyday work, and the technological advances that impacted women’s lives are the subjects of this essay, which attempts to develop a portrait of a woman’s work, surroundings, feelings, and her typical day on West Virginia farms in the 1880s and 1920s.

Farms of the 1880s were predominately independent or subsistent entities where everything needed by the family was raised or manufactured. An examination of three 1880s diaries documents the self-sufficiency and frugality of West Virginia farm women. Extended family and close neighbors provided the bulk of the basic needs of the farm family. Because cash was not readily available on the subsistence farm, barter was an important element of the agricultural economy.

In the 1870 U. S. Federal Census, Martha Jane is married to J. W. Price, and living in Walker Township, Wood County, West Virginia. Their Post Office was in Parkersburg. Martha Jane was also living with her one-month-old baby, and three other adults. These three other adults do not seem to be related to Martha Jane, or James W., but they are all working, and contributing to a single household, of which James W. was named head. James W. and one of the men living with them were working together, but the other man was working as a laborer, and the single woman living with them was keeping house with Martha Jane.

A Bird's Eye View of Wheeling, West Virginia (1870)

A Bird’s Eye View of Wheeling, West Virginia (1870)

We see get more information about Martha Jane in the 1880 U. S. Federal Census. Martha Jane and James W. Price were living in Sheridan, Calhoun, West Virginia. James W. was farming, and Martha Jane was keeping house and having babies. The baby girl we met ten years ago was followed by a son, John H. in 1872, two girls in 1873 and in 1875, a boy in 1876, and another girl in 1878. Additionally, Martha Jane is listed in this census, taken June 25th, 1880, as “… sick or temporarily disabled, so as to be unable to attend to ordinary

1880 U.S. Federal Census

1880 U.S. Federal Census

business or duties” by reason of “lying in”. What in the world is that? Turns out, it is an old way of saying Martha Jane was on bed rest, which was the normal course of childbirth either right before or after the birth. Normally, a woman was advised to lie in for two weeks, to two months, and receive visitors and generally care for themselves and the newborn. We still have remains of this tradition: plenty of modern women wait for a couple of weeks before bringing out their newborns. However, in the case of Martha Jane, her youngest child was listed as being two-years-old. This means she was either about to have another baby, or she may have had a miscarriage. She was only 34 years old, but she had spent ten years having six babies, and all in the mid-nineteenth century!

Martha Jane was truly a hearty broad! By 1900, James W. had died, leaving Martha Jane as the head of the household. She was 55 years old, according to the U. S. Federal Census that year. She had born ten children, of whom nine were living. She wasn’t any helpless old widow, though, she was listed as the Head of the household, and the farmer of her own farm – a farm she owned free of a mortgage. Another special thing about Martha Jane: she could read and write, and so could all of her children. This may not seem so great to us, but Martha Jane lived in a time when women, especially farmers’ wives in wild West Virginia, had no need for education. She must have seen a need for some education, and she passed it along to all of her kids. Good thing she did, too. Even though so many farmers could not read or write then, as a woman farmer, and head of a household, she had a leg up on these guys.

1900 U.S. Federal Census

1900 U.S. Federal Census

Another thing to note in this census: Martha Jane was the head and owner of the farm, despite having a 31-year-old son living with her. The farm did not pass from James W. to his adult son, but to his wife. Their eldest son, John H., was living at home, with his mom, unmarried in 1900. Maybe being unmarried is why James W. left his farm to his wife. Men were thought to be “untamed” before taking a wife, and his father may have wanted the stability provided by his more-than-capable wife. Also living with Martha Jane were her younger son, 16, and her daughter, Effie Price, who was 14. Effie only attended school for four months in 1900, but could read and write like all of her family.

Martha Jane was also listed as having given birth to nine or ten children, with seven living. It is very possible at least one of these children had smallpox. Calhoun had a massive outbreak in 1900. The county was under quarantine:

Order of Board of Health

At a meeting of the County Board of Health of Calhoun county, held at the court house on Saturday, January 27, 1900, the following order was adopted:
WHEREAS, this board has reason to believe and does believe that many of the citizens and residents of this county have been recently exposed to the contagion of smallpox, which has been prevalent in adjacent counties and perhaps is now in existence in this county, and the board believes that extreme precautionary measures should be adopted to prevent its spread.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, That until the further order of the board all public assemblies, such as churches, common schools, Sunday schools, literary societies, and all other meetings or societies and gatherings where the people are in the habit of assembling together be dispensed with in the districts of Sheridan, Center and Sherman, and as to the districts of Washington and Lee it is recommended that the boards of Education and trustees of the several sub districts confer together, and it is deemed advisable for the public safety, discontinue the schools for such time as they may think proper, and it is recommended that all the citizens of the county take such precautionary measures as may in their own judgment assist in preventing the spread of the contagion, and it is especially recommended that all people whether in the quarantine districts or not keep as close to their homes as possible during the prevalence of the disease, avoiding mingling with miscellaneous crowds and traveling in other district or section unless they are convinced that no contagion exists there.
People are also recommended to be vaccinated, if they can do so without too great inconvenience.
James F. McDonald,
President Protem.

Life wasn’t all that bad in West Virginia at the turn of the century. At least they had gas! According to the Calhoun Chronicle in 1898, gas lights and heat were coming to Grantsville, West Virginia, and the surrounding areas, including where Martha Jane and her family lived:

The newspaper announces the coming of gas lights and heat to the Town of Grantsville.
“We are authorized to state positively that, barring accidents, this town will be abundantly supplied with gas by next Tuesday.”
“A plumber will follow immediately after the laying of the line and by the time the December snow begins to fly, some of our citizens, at least, can roast their feet by a red-hot gas fire.”
“R.N. Miles has all the material for piping gas to this town now on the way, and as soon as it reaches here, work will be commence and pushed to an early completion.”
“He has bought the very best material; so no uneasiness on account of explosions need be felt.”
It will furnish the cheapest fuel this town has ever been blessed with, to say nothing about the convenience.” “May the Lord give his servant, Miles, more power to hurry the matter up.”
A few weeks later, the paper reported:
“Look at our beautiful gas lights. Grantsville is now illuminated by the use of natural gas. The town is now wanting a bridge across the river at that point and is reaching out eagerly for a railroad.”
“Grantsville is an enterprising little town.” – Ritchie Standard.
The official first day use of using natural gas as fuel in the town of Grantsville was Feb. 14, 1899, replacing oil lamps and wood stove heat.

1910 U.S. Federal Census

1910 U.S. Federal Census

More changes came in 1909. John H. finally found himself a wife. She was 17-years-old when they married. Maybe it was this marriage, or maybe because Martha Jane was now in her mid-sixties, or another reason, we don’t know, but in the 1910 U. S. Federal Census John H. had now taken over the farm. For the first time since she was a teen, Martha Jane was not listed as working. Since she is not listed as disabled, she likely retired and was just enjoying being taken care of by her son and new daughter-in-law.

What exactly was life like for women in West Virginia, at the turn of the century? The Calhoun Chronicle gives us a hint in the “Friendly Household Hints” article, dated October 31st, 1911:

Womanly Wisdom

When pin-feathers come out with difficulty, wrap a piece of muslin around your finger to pull against.
If you would have light dumplings, leave the cover off for about ten minutes after you have put them in.
‘People who do not like the country because there is so little going on, are those in whose heads there is less going on than even in the country.’
Mix your griddle-cakes, waffles, fritters, etc., in the upper part of a double boiler instead of in an ordinary mixing bowl, and you will find the handle very useful to hold it by when frying them.
When you buy the children’s drawers for the winter, sew a piece of tape, about three inches long, across the bottom of the legs. This will prevent the drawers from wrinkling up when the stockings are put on.
Do not forget to give the baby plenty of water. Milk is a food, and does not take the place of water as a drink. Plenty of water between feedings, taken either warm or cool, is a great aid to the bowels and kidneys.
Nut butter is a pretty good substitute for meat now that the latter brings such high prices. Run walnuts or shellbarks through a food-chopper, and rub into them about one-third as much good fresh butter. Spread on crackers or bread.
One housekeeper has prevented many a burned roast or overbaked cake by setting the alarm clock to the proper time to open the oven door. Then she goes about her work in the other part of the house, knowing that she will hear the imperative call at the right time.
The right way to cook oatmeal: Put a teaspoonful of salt in a quart of water over the fire, in the upper part of a double boiler. As soon as it boils, briskly sprinkle the oatmeal in slowly. Do not stir, but let it boil briskly for a few minutes, then set it in the lower half of the boiler, which should contain hot water; cover it and let it bubble slowly, without stirring, for four or five hours at the least. If wanted for breakfast they should be cooked the day before, and then finished with as much time as you can allow in the morning. – From November Farm Journal.

I am sure Martha Jane used at least some of this advice. After all, it is pretty practical. My favorite piece of advice: “Milk is food, and does not take the place of water”. I like to think Martha Jane read this, like we are reading it today. Martha Jane Varner Price was a fascinating woman – strong and self-sufficient. No wonder her granddaughter, Zella, named her daughter after this unique woman.

The Family Tree of Martha Jane Varner Price

The Family Tree of Martha Jane Varner Price

Like so many others, I am not related to George Washington, at least to the best of my knowledge. However, I do come from some real characters! Daniel Greathouse is just one of those crazy characters who make up the history of the United States of America, and from whom I descend. The Greathouse family has a great deal of information online to learn more about Daniel, and I will have details for the sources I have used in the Sources Page, if you would like to do more research.

What makes Daniel such a crazy guy is this: he started Lord Dunmore’s War in 1774. Yep, he started a war! So he must be a shady character, then, since he started a war with Native Americans, right?

Not exactly: depending on who you listen to, he could have been a blood-thirsty and brutally immoral monster, or a nice guy who misunderstood his situation, and everything in between. Plus, the War was most likely a result of the ongoing land quarrels between the British and the Native Americans. All these differing opinions of Daniel highlight the turbulent and difficult times into which he born.

Daniel Greathouse was born in 1750,to Harmon Greathouse and Mary Stull. Harmon lived at Holliday’s Cove, on Harmon’s Creek, in what is now West Virginia. This area of Virginia in the 1700’s was the frontier, and Daniel and his brother, Jacob, were frontiersmen. As we look at this time, with our 21st century lenses, we may see frontiersmen as rugged and rough men, with little compassion and great tempers, who cared little for the land, animals, and people they impacted. This is only partially right. After all, this is not the way they saw themselves. Frontiersmen knew they were the only way America could expand: the only way Americans could settle in all the land available. They saw free land, ready to be taken and made better by those hardy enough to make their home so far away from society and civilization.

Native Americans’ Views Differed…

Looking backward, we can understand Native Americans did not see the same picture. Instead, Natives saw White people coming into their homelands, their inheritances, and making homes, destroying forests, and generally looting the land. I imagine a Native American child to have grown up in this area, hearing stories of his ancestors, and knowing this land was to be his someday. He might have climbed a tall tree to see all the land on which his family, and all his ancestors, had lived and died. This would have been such a special area to him, knowing his grandparents, great-grandparents, and generations before had all played on the same land, and were given back to the earth here, too. It would have been here he would have married, like his parents had before him, and here he would have seen his children born. Then, I imagine, one day, he climbed back up his tree to see the lands he would give his children. Instead of the same, sprawling, and familiar land, he saw corners and a creek cut out of his land. Squinting, he might have just been able to make out clearings, with animals and gardens, and a small hut. This hut would not have looked like his, or the huts of his known enemies. However, good land being always fought over, he might have assumed this was a rival moving in on his land, or he might have wondered if these were the White men he had been hearing about lately. I think he might have, next, taken a small group of trusted men with him on a secret mission, to see if these were fiends or foes.

What a sight must have presented the Native Americans who first saw these strange White people on their land. The range of feelings and thoughts must have been as diverse as the people making the discoveries. When I was a kid, I thought Native Americans seeing White people must have been like Elliot seeing E.T. Now, however, we know Natives had some contact with White people for hundreds of years before the 16th century. They must have at least heard stories about White people and the odd traditions they always brought. Now, I think it must have been more like the Goonies finding the ship of One-Eyed Willie. Not that White people are a treasure, but it must have been exciting and scary to finally see what they heard stories about, and the thought of who else might want to know what was found must have quickly crossed their minds, not knowing if there was gain to be had from this find.

It is usually easier to imagine the perspective of the White people who settled in Native American land. Those are the stories we learn in school. Sometimes these are horror stories, from White people who were scared of the Natives. Sometimes these are stories of friendships and mutual learning. Either way, Native Americans must have held similarly different opinions of these White people taking over their lands. Maybe one of the corners the Native American I imagined saw was carved out by Daniel Greathouse (no, I didn’t forget who we were talking about, but I like to set the stage).


One of the Natives who found friends in White men was Chief Logan, of the Mingo tribe. One of the White men who had unfriendly experiences with Natives was Daniel Greathouse. This difference of viewpoints led to so much confusion and bloodshed. In 1763 a Proclamation was issued preventing white settlements west of the Allegheny Rivers and Appalachian Mountains. Not only were there already settlements over this boundary, which were supposed to just be abandoned, but other pioneers had been ready to move out west to make their fortune on land. To the whites, this Proclamation meant the government, far away in Britain with no real concern for them, was simply trying to impose another burden on them to impede them from bettering themselves and their families. To the Natives, it was supposed to give them some recognition as rightful owners of these lands, their ancestors’ lands, where their families are buried, and their children have played, and which no one has asked for but taken anyway.

Back to Daniel…

So, finally the White people have to stay out of the rest of the Native Americans’ lands, right? Well … not settling these lands means less prosperity and land for White people. After all, more Europeans were arriving everyday, and if they couldn’t go further west, they would have to start squeezing into the established colonies. And we had to make those dollar bills (or at this time, coins), so the Proclamation was ignored, and pioneers continued to settle west, and refused to leave their homesteads already passed the boundary of the Appalachians. As you probably figured, this created some tension between White people and Native people. Even friendly Natives were a little ticked off at the settlers who blatantly ignored their ownership of lands, and the authorities who promised recognition but did little to enforce this. Often during this time Natives raided small villages and homesteads.

Daniel Greathouse did not see these raids with historical context to help him understand. He might have known friendly Native Americans, but he spent much more time with the Natives he was fighting on the frontier. He had likely heard of the Mingo tribe before and may have even heard they were friendly with whites. He had also likely heard of Natives thought to be friendly who looted, raped, and murdered whites. He probably thought better safe than sorry, and largely distrusted all Natives.

Then, as Thomas Jefferson (yep, that Thomas Jefferson) said, “In the spring of the year 1774, a robbery and murder were committed on an inhabitant of the frontiers of Virginia, by two Indians of the Shawnee tribe. The neighboring whites, according to their custom, undertook to punish this outrage in a summary way.” Jefferson mistakenly named Captain Michael Cresap as the leader of the “neighboring whites”. It was later discovered to be a man under his charge, our Daniel Greathouse.

Tales differ on what “in a summary way” included. In most versions Daniel and several men heard the Natives responsible for the previous murders were in a bar nearby. Meeting them there, Daniel and his men plied the group of Natives, including a pregnant woman, with alcohol. After they were sufficiently stumbling around, Daniel and his men led the Natives away from the town.

Then the stories start to really diverge…

Some stories are gruesome accounts of how the whites committed unspeakable horrors to the bodies of the Natives. Others simply say the Natives were murdered. Most are relatively silent on the details.

Like before, we needn’t look further than politics to understand the variations in the accounts. Natives could see this as a means to create more nationalism and give a cause and face to their suffering. From their perspective, this horror was perpetrated by these same nasty whites who had been terrorizing them all along, and being friendly obviously gained them no better treatment. It was, from all accounts, well known to whites and Native Americans alike the Mingo tribe was one of the friendliest with the settlers. However, the Europeans weren’t going to miss out on this propaganda gold mine, either. Their position was a little trickier, but they were well-practiced. They knew it would put them at war immediately if they did not condemn Daniel and his men, but afterward they shed a less harsh light on the event.

From History of Roane County West Virginia by William H Bishop published in 1927:
“Daniel Greathouse, Captain, commandant of the small division of Colonel Michael Cresap’s men who killed the party of marauding Indians on the Virginia side of the Ohio at the mouth of Yellow Creek, (a stream emptying into the Ohio river from the north west, nearly midway between Pittsburgh and Wheeling), in which Indian party were “all the relatives of Logan, Chief of the Mingos.” Authority for this killing was denied by Colonel Cresap and by Governor Dunmore, but this act of Greathouse’s initiated the military activities that led up to and culminated in the Battle of Point Pleasant and ending of maraudings and Indian atrocities in the valleys of the Monongahela and the Kanawhas. When one reads the list of robberies, murders and kidnappings by those Indians, of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children of some of the Greathouse men, we do not wonder they did not wait regular military orders. We read in a history, “Our Western Border,” by McKnight, that after the defeat of the Indians at The Battle of Brushy Run, the Indians surrendered to the white men, children of Pennsylvanians numbering forty- nine males and sixty-seven females, and of thirty two males and fifty-eight females… and more than a hundred Virginians.”

This was the beginning of Lord Dunmore’s War in 1774, started by Daniel Greathouse.

You can find a great short video at the West Virginia Encyclopedia website: http://www.wvencyclopedia.org/media/29193.

Where Did Daniel Live?

According to http://greathouse.us his father’s land was surveyed in 1783:

1783, Dec 11 – Survey: Harmon Greathouse, Harmons Creek, 800 acres

Excerpt from 1785 – Land Grant: Harmon Greathouse, Harmons Creek, 800 acres:

there is granted by the said Commonwealth unto the said Harmon Greathouse a certain Tract or parcel of Land Containing Eight hundred acres by Survey bearing date the eleventh day of December one Thousand seven hundred and Eighty three [11 Dec 1783] Lying and being in the County of Yohogania and is Bounded as followeth. To wit:

Beginning at a Large Double Sycamore on the north side of Harmons Creek being a Corner to Thomas Edgington

1) thence North thirty five degrees West one hundred poles to a Black oak on the hill

N 35 degrees W 100 poles

2) thence with Edgingtons Line North fifty one Degrees West one hundred and Seventy two poles to a Black oak Corner to Thomas Edgington,

N 51 degrees W 172 poles

3) thence East fifty seven poles to a Black oak on the River Hill

E 57 poles

4) thence North Twenty one degrees East ninety seven poles to a white oak

N 21 degrees E 97 poles

5) thence North thirty nine degrees East one hundred and Twenty eight poles to a white oak

N 39 degrees E 128 poles

6) thence south seventy eight degrees East thirty four poles to a white oak in Alexander Wills Line

S 78 degrees E 34 poles

7) thence with his Line South Twelve Degrees West six poles to his Corner Black oak

S 12 degrees W 6 poles

8) thence with Wills Line crossing the cove of a Pond South Eighty two degrees East one hundred and ninety poles to a Black oak,

S 82 degrees E 190 poles

9) thence south Twenty degree East sixty poles to a Dogwood and red oak on the north side of Harmons Creek

S 20 degrees E 60 poles

10) South fifty three degrees East one hundred and seven poles to a Black Oak

S 53 degrees E 107 poles

11) south Eighty two degrees East one hundred and Thirty two poles to a Large ash

S 82 degrees E 132 poles

12) South fifty five degrees East Twenty eight poles to Slash oak

S 55 degrees E 28 poles

13) south forty degrees East forty poles to a Sycamore

S 40 degrees E 40 poles

14) south twenty degrees East Sixty six poles to a Sugar tree Corner to Gabriel Greathouse

S 26 degrees E 66 poles

15) South Seventy eight degrees West thirty four poles to a maple on the South Bank of Harmons Creek just above an old Mill race

S 78 degrees W 34 poles

16) thence North forty degrees West Sixty six poles to a swamp oak at the foot of the hill

N 40 degrees W 66 poles

17) thence North Eighty five degrees West one hundred and forty poles

N 85 degrees W 140 poles

18) thence right Line South fifty five degrees West three hundred and five poles to the Beginning With is appurtenances.

S 55 [63] degrees W 305 [336] poles

So, How do I Fit into this Story?

Daniel Greathouse is my 5th Great-Grandfather.

Daniel was the father of John D. Greathouse, who was the father of Samuel William Greathouse, who fathered Mary Elizabeth “Betsy” Greathouse, who was the mother of Early Edward “Earl” Webb, who fathered Thurman Casto “Pete” Webb, who was the father of my mother.

Daniel's Descendants

Daniel’s Descendants

Descendants of Daniel Greathouse

From Daniel to me…


One Correction… in Generation 6 above, Ada Mae Elliot is listed as the wife of Charles Lewis Webb. She is still living in Spencer, West Virginia, though. Sorry about this mistake! Thanks.


Daniel Greathouse: He Started a War …

We Can’t All Be Related to George Washington …

… but George Washington wasn’t alone in the fledgling New World. Many people, my ancestors included, have been somewhat lost to history. They aren’t the big names we all learn about in school, and they aren’t pictured on money, but those guys couldn’t have made history alone.


I am bringing these forgotten people back to life (well, their life stories anyway)! By covering a new individual in each post, I hope to breath new life into the stories of those forgotten in our history books. Mostly, I will highlight the lives of my ancestors, but I will be adding in additional individuals who I find interesting or pivotal to these stories of history. Together, we will learn about family lines, and individuals with major and minor impacts on history, and what may have propelled them in their lives. Specifically, I will be covering, at least initially, the Morrison, Cote, Benoit, Price, Webb, Craddock, and Martin families who immigrated to the United States from Europe and Canada.


I hope you will enjoy taking this journey through history with me!