Mastering Those Lemasters…

One thing leads to another… and another…

After my last blog posting, highlighting my researches into the extended Tackett family, I heard from researcher Annette DeCourcy Towler, who has been researching the descendants of Eleazer “Ealy” Lemaster (1760-1859) for decades. One of Eleazer’s two wives was Machell Tackett (1762-1792); his second wife was Rachel Remy/Ramey ( – ca 1850). Eleazer’s descendants intermarried with Tacketts in the Kentucky counties of Floyd, Johnson, Lawrence, Magoffin, and Pike over several generations.

Annette generously offered to share her data with me so that users of this site/database can learn more about the role of Lemasters in the early settlement of eastern Kentucky — particularly the Big Sandy and Upper Licking River basins. Now, after more than a month of “tweaking” Annette’s contributions through intensive cross-checking against FamilySearch and Find-a-Grave resources, we have a solid beginning on the documentation of the settlement of that geographical location. I am delighted to have — in a manner of speaking — this new geographic territory opening to deeper exploration.

The Lemaster family data that Annette supplied includes links to several other important collateral lines — in addition to Tackett, other surnames that show up with frequency include: Caudill (and variant spellings common in Northeastern Kentucky such as Cordle and Cordial); Hughes; McKenzie; Pack; Pelphrey; Picklesimer; Ramey; Rice; Stapleton; and Wheeler.

All these names — and more — reawakened some memories of my early working life. In 1973, fresh out of the University of Kentucky, I worked for a year with three other people as a field research crew performing the “socioeconomic impact” portion of two Environmental Impact Studies — the first two that the Army Corps of Engineers ever had to conduct in connnection with flood-control (i.e. “dam-building”) projects.

We spent six months driving through every road, logging path, and even a few creekbeds, within the watersheds that were to be impounded for the Paintsville and Yatesville reservoirs.  We became thoroughly acquainted with large parts of Morgan, Johnson, and Lawrence counties — particularly those sections that were not on paved highways.

We attempted to “map” every occupied dwelling and, if possible, interview the householders. More than once, we got stuck and had to winch our old International Travelall (remember them?) out of creeks, ruts, and bogs.

The place names will be forever etched into my memory — tiny post offices like Win, Relief, and Volga (pronounced “Vawl-gie” by most folks); Paint and Little Paint Creeks, Blaine. I particularly remember Burchett Flats, a hilltop “settlement” of 3-4 houses accessible only by a dirt road,where the mail was still being delivered on muleback — as I recall, that was possibly the last such route in Kentucky.

And, deep in the woods in the narrow “gorge” of Paint (or was it Little Paint) was the home of an elderly African-American man — who claimed strong Cherokee blood relations — who almost had to hitch his mules to help pull our vehicle out of a deep dry creekbed after the old logging bridge collapsed on us — a good two miles from his, or anyone else’s house. That was one time a 5,000 pound Tulsa winch served creatively as more than a macho front bumper ornament! I always wanted to work that little experience into a job resume…

So, to Annette, I say a big “Thanks for the memories!” Your family stories intermesh very nicely with my own. And it reinforced the connections we all have — through blood ties, and through life experiences, that make our Appalachian roots so strong.

Rivers of Humanity (Part IV): Pigg River and Magotty Creek




The Pigg River is located in South Side Virginia,in the vicinity of present-day Rocky Mount.  The Pigg is the south fork of the Roanoke (or Staunton) River, as it flows southeastwardly toward the Atlantic. The river rises from Fivemile Mountain in western Franklin County and passes through Pittsylvania County.[1]
According to Pittsylvania County local historian Maud Clements:
In 1741, John Pigg, of Amelia County, entered for “400 acres on the south fork of Staunton River, beginning opposite the mouth of Snow Creek.” The south fork of the Staunton river had not been named at this time and took its name from this early settler, becoming Pigg River.[2]
At this early date, the whole section was engrossed in land grants issued to Col. Byrd (105,000 acres), Colonel William Randolph (38,000 acres), and Colonel Peter Jefferson, father of Thomas Jefferson (15,000 acres), as well as several others. Early attempts to recruit German and Swiss emigrants to purchase and settle tracts in the wilderness proved generally unsuccessful.  However, some English Quakers and Scots-Irish were drawn southward from Pennsylvania to this area abutting the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge.  Nonetheless, this country remained relatively thinly-settled for many years.
By 1747, other settlers were taking up land grants on the Pigg River.  William Gray and Ashford Hughes patented 10,000 acres encompassing both sides of the river.  Others recording patents included Edmund Gray, William Owens, William Payne, William Lucas, John Lane, Edward Baker, William Rice, and Merry Webb.[3]  Webb, in particular, was a progenitor of a large number of descendants bearing that name throughout Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
Of particular interest to this writer, Thomas Hall was a patentee of Pigg River lands during 1746-47.[4]  Thomas Hall is the direct ancestor of thousands of Hall family members who were among the earliest settlers in Southwest Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.  (This writer can trace several branches of his family tree back to this ancestor — demonstrating the prolific spread of these Hall genes!)[5]
According to The History of Pittsylvania County, in 1747 “Patrick Johnson, Peter Elliott (or Ellet), Benjamin Ray, Thomas Gill, Thomas Hall and John Miller had cabins on Magotty Creek, and John, Mark and Stephen Cole and John Hilton were on Blackwater [River].”[6]  Magotty and Blackwater were significant tributaries of the Staunton, located just north of the Pigg.
A party of Moravian Brethren, on their way from Pennsylvania to resettle in North Carolina, passed through Magotty’s Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1753.  A diary of the journey recorded their interaction with Benjamin Ray (variously Rhea or Wray):
Near by Magotty Creek dwells Benjamin Ray, an old man of some ninety years, and his wife, who is about a hundred years old. They are both active and cheerful people who gave us milk to drink and were very kind.[7]
In that same year, the settlers along the Pigg River and its tributary, Snow Creek, petitioned the county court of the newly-established Halifax County to establish a road in their neighborhood.  Thomas Hall and William Hill were appointed to “lay off” the road from the Pigg River/Snow Creek settlements to the more easterly settled areas.[8]  This road was near to, or intersected with, the trail known as the Morgan Bryan Road from the Shenandoah into the Yadkin River country of North Carolina.  Bryan blazed this road in 1748; his followers included the Boone family, out of which Daniel Boone was to marry his daughter Rebecca in 1755.
In 1748, Elisha Walling (Walden/Wallens) was named constable to serve the western reaches of Lunenburg County “on Smith’s River and the Wart [Bull] Mountain”.[9]  Walling had a further important role, as one of the legendary “longhunters”, in the exploration and settlement of Holston and Powell’s Valleys of far southwestern Virginia and into Lincoln County, Kentucky.
Many other early settlers of the Pigg River and its environs contributed to the future populating of the central Appalachian Highlands.  By 1762, Elisha and Isham Blankenship had entered patents for land. William Cook entered lands located near the Pigg River Church and Benjamin Cook entered property on Crab Creek.  William and Benjamin were the sons of Abraham Cooke, whose will was probated in Lunenburg in 1748.
Samuel Hairston also recorded land near the Pigg River Church.  Robert Jones entered two grants in 1747 and another in 1752.  Joseph Ren(t)fro, William Ren(t)fro, James Ren(t)fro,  and Benjamin Ren(t)fro each recorded patents between 1747 and 1751.  John Turner and Roger Turner entered patents in 1747.
By 1767, a new county had been carved out of Halifax.  Pittsylvania, named for William Pitt, the British Prime Minister, became the westernmost county defined by specific boundaries.  (Augusta County included all the western wilderness areas, theoretically extending to the Pacific.)  In 1777, Pittsylvania was split, and its western half became Henry County, named for Virginia’s revolutionary Governor Patrick Henry.  The northern portion of Henry subsequently severed to create Franklin County in 1786.  Patrick County was carved out of the westernmost portion of Henry County in 1791, essentially defining the current-day environs of the Pigg River settlements.[10]

[1] WikiPedia, the Free Encyclopedia, entry for “Pigg River”.
[2] Clement, Maud Carter, An Abbreviated History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, Chatham, Va., 1953.
[3] Carrington, Wirt Johnson, A History of Halifax County, Richmond, Va.:  Appeals Press,1924, p. 36.
[4] Ibid, p. 37.
[5] In future articles, the writer will expand greatly on the story of Thomas Hall and his descendants — especially in the lineages of his sons Jesse and Isham Hall.
[6] Clement, Maud Carter, op. cit.
[7] Clement, Maud Carter, The History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1929
[8] Hoaton, Anne, The White Man Comes To Stay, typescript, Richmond, Va.: pub. unknown, 1948, p. 6.
[9] Clement, op. cit., p. 50.
[10] A very helpful online interactive map showing the formation of Virginia counties, from initial colonial settlement to the present day, is available online at



Rivers of Humanity (Part III): The Headwaters of the New River

The sources of the New River are found in the highlands of modern-day Grayson County, Virginia and Ashe County, North Carolina.  In the early days of settlement, however, Grayson County was a part first of Augusta County, then (beginning in 1777) of Montgomery County, and  (from 1790-1793) Wythe County,Virginia.  Ashe County was a part of Rowan and then (from 1777 until 1799) Wilkes County, North Carolina.

Dozens of creeks and smaller streams drain the western slopes of the Blue Ridge and combine to form the New, which then flows generally in a northerly direction from the far northwestern area of North Carolina through Virginia and into West Virginia, where it eventually merges with other streams to become the Kanawha.

The terrain of the headwaters of the New is generally very rugged — high ridgelines separated by narrow valleys.  From the piedmont region and foothills of North Carolina, settlements had been extended as far as the Three Forks of the Yadkin River by the 1750s.[1]  Once the Seven Years’ (French and Indian) War ended in 1763, a flood of immigrants travelled southward through the Great Valley from Pennsylvania and Maryland, through Virginia — crossing to the east side of the Blue Ridge near present-day Roanoke — and almost due south through Martinsburg (VA) to the vicinity of Winston-Salem, bypassing the more rugged mountain sections of Ashe and Grayson counties.[2]

Because the Great Wagon Road avoided the uplands of Grayson and Ashe, this region became, in essence, a “cul-de-sac”[3] insulated from settlement pressures.  It remained for a time the province of the “long hunters”.

Even as Yadkin  residents began to feel the pressure of in-migration in the periods just prior to and subsequent to the Revolutionary War, those who desired to resettle further west avoided travel through the New River headwaters.  Those who wished to join early settlers on the Clinch and Holston Rivers in far western Virginia, or to follow Boone into Kentucky, would travel back north as far as Wytheville and then down the Wilderness Road toward Cumberland Gap.  Others who desired to head west into the Tennessee territories generally would use the Catawba trails to cross over to the Watauga and Nolichucky rivers.

Nonetheless, a few extended families did venture into the more remote fastness of the upper New River.

The earliest attempt at settlement was made by a North Carolinian, Andrew Baker.  He first entered present-day Ashe as early as 1753; however, with the onset of Indian hostilities related to the French and Indian War, he returned to the Yadkin settlements until peace was established in 1763.  Shortly thereafter, he and other family members settled in the southeastern portion of Ashe.  By 1780, despite the Revolutionary War Ashe had several dozen families, including the Pennington, Ray, Roark, Couch, Sturgill and Purkins (Perkins) families.[4]

Also accompanying Andrew Baker and his colleagues were members of the extended — and intermarried — Osborn[e], Hash[e], and Cox families.  This group, however, settled on the Virginia side of the border, in present-day Grayson County.[5]  They were followed shortly thereafter by Phippses and Howells, Andersons and Bonhams.  They were joined by a Swiss-German pietist carpenter, Heinrich Gröb (Grubb), who, like Andrew Baker, had first attempted to settle there prior to the French and Indian War.  He was a founder of Grubb’s Chapel Baptist Church.[6]

Historian Paula Hathaway Anderson-Green has provided, in the article cited below, a very good recap of the marital ties among the Osbornes and other families.  She also traces their origins back to the Pennsylvania-New Jersey environs surrounding Philadelphia, from whence they migrated down the Great Wagon Road.  In future articles dealing with specific surnames, I shall recount some of those details.  In the meantime, readers are advised to seek access to the online JSTOR academic journal source as cited below.

[1] The best history of the Three Forks of Yadkin can be found in Robert W. Ramsey, Carolina Cradle:  Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762, (Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press; 1964).  It contains extensive indices of surnames, places of origin, and means of immigration of the earliest settlers of the Yadkin region.

[2] See “Mapping the Great Wagon Road”, by David Walbert, an internet resource on Learn NC,  a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (

[3] Bennett, William D., “Early Settlement Along the New River (NC and VA) Basin” (, in Proceedings:  New River Symposium 1984. Center for Continuing Education, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Paula Hathaway Anderson-Green, “The New River Frontier Settlement on the Virginia-North Carolina Border 1760-1820”, in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 86, No. 4, (Oct 1978), pp. 413-431.  Available online for many public library patrons at

[6] Ibid.

Rivers of Humanity (Part II): West of the New River

The settlement of the country surrounding the New River in Virginia continued through the decades of the 1750s and 1760s, despite frequent depredations by marauding Native warriors.  The Journal of Col. William Preston records a number of families who staked out homesteads on Peak (present-day Pulaski County) and Reed (present-day Wythe County) Creeks and other areas west of the New, well beyond the Draper Settlements. 1

During the 1750s lead, the crucial element used to make rifle projectiles, was discovered in significant

quantities near present-day Austinville, in Wythe County.  The discovery was made by a Col. Chiswell, a British army officer and founder of Fort Chiswell, who explored the territory and reported his find to the King’s Council at Williamsburg.2

The discovery of this necessary resource for any frontier explorer/settler certainly would have drawn some adventurous souls to the region.  However, the rich timberlands and pastoral meadows also promised opportunities to potential settlers.

About 1747, John McFarland (b. 1706-1708, Ireland; d. 1784/5), his wife Mary, and their children migrated down the Great Valley from Pennsylvania to the frontier of western Virginia.  John and his eldest son Robert (b. 1730, Lancaster County, PA) recorded a survey of 2000 acres on and near Reed Creek.  This area was then a part of Augusta County.  The McFarlands remained on that stake until native raids forced them to relocate in 1756 to Bedford County, VA, where the elder McFarland died after the Revolution.3

Settlers with the surnames of Noble and Calhoun were located on the Cripple Creek tributary of the New River at least as early as 1753.  One settler, John Noble, made his will in June 1752.  In it, he named “my brother, James Calhoun” to serve as a co-executor of his estate.  Other witnesses to the will were William Calhoun, Agnes Calhoun, and Patrick Calhoun.  John Noble listed the following heirs in his will:  wife Mary, children:  James, Alexander, Patrick, Ezekiel, and Jean.4  [There is also a court record of a lawsuit brought by Col. James Patton against one “James Cohoon”, a variant spelling that is likely James Calhoun, the son of John and the brother of Patrick.

Other early names appearing on the Tates Run branch of Reed Creek, in present-day Montgomery County, include Michael Kinzer (Kincer) who bought land in 1754 which was settled by his son Michael Kinzer Jr.;  Michael Wampler, who purchased 100 acres (1782) adjacent to Jacob Kinzer;  Frederick Moore; Peter Yancey (Yonce).5

Other early settlers on Peak Creek included several members of the Patton family:  Henry Patton, the elder (b. abt 1720, Ireland); James Patton (b. 1751 Augusta Co., VA), who settled a tract in 1771; and Thomas Patton (b. abt 1741), a brother of James.6

For further reading about settlers in this area, you may wish to visit the website “Early Settlers of Old Augusta”.

1Johnson, New River Settlements.

2Hauser, H. M. “A Short Historical and Physical Description of Wythe County, Virginia”.   Published by Order of Its Board of Supervisors for distribution at the Jamestown Ter-Centennial Exposition, 1907.

3Haines, Mary Helen. Our McFarland History From Scotland to Texas, transcribed on the website “Clan MacFarlane Worldwide (, 2011.

4Kemper, Charles E.  Historical Notes from the Records of Augusta County, Virginia, Part II.

5Price, H. L.  “Kinsers in Montgomery County, Virginia”, Selected passages from a paper, May 1934.  Transcribed on the  website “Kinser, Kinzer, Kincer, Kinsar, Kinsor, Kintzer, Künzer, Kuentzer, Küntzer —

One Immigrant Family” (; accessed 23 Apr 2013.

6Agricola, David V., M.D.  “Henry Patton Line of Augusta, Montgomery County, Virginia”.  Website (

Rivers of Humanity (Part I): Draper’s Meadow, at the Head of the James River

A thorough study of the history of the people of the Appalachian Highlands must begin with an understanding of the region’s geography, as it was known from the earliest days of settlement.  In colonial times — and indeed, today — one’s locality was defined by reference to particular land features, primarily the watercourses upon which trails were established and where land was patented. Therefore it would be helpful to utilize some of the earliest maps of the region to highlight the rivers where Appalachian settlers lived prior to their migration into the heart of the mountains, and also the watercourses of the new lands they entered upon as pioneers.

The earliest map that is useful as a frame of reference is that of Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson (father of Thomas Jefferson), who were appointed by acting Governor Burwell in 1750 to create a map that would more clearly identify the extent and boundaries of the lands claimed by the British as part of the Virginia Colony.1  The resulting Fry-Jefferson map, published in London in 1754, was the first to delineate all the significant rivers of Virginia, as well as portions of the colonies of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

By the mid-eighteenth century, many of the ancestors of present-day Appalachians had begun penetrating far into the interiors of Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, following coastal streams to their mountain sources.  In this series on the “rivers of humanity” we shall focus on several of those earliest interior settlements, identifying each with the watercourses on which they were situated.

Located draperjust beyond the headwaters of the James River (see map) was probably the most well-known early settlement, Draper’s Meadow, at present-day Blacksburg, Virginia.  Draper’s Meadow was part of a tract of land granted to Col. James Patton of Augusta County in the early 1740s.  The grant covered 120,000 acres, bounded on the west by the New River.  Much of Patton’s grant is included in modern-day Montgomery and Pulaski Counties of Virginia.  Col. Patton, a native of Ireland, had been a sea captain prior to August 1738.  He then took up residence in the Beverley Manor holdings on the south fork of the Shenandoah River.  This area was carved out of Orange County by the colonial Virginia General Assembly the same year to become Augusta County; its organized government came into being in 1745.2

Patton quickly began to promote his lands to the steady stream of families who migrated into the Valley of Virginia out of Pennsylvania, where the best lands had already been claimed.  Large numbers of these prospective buyers were German-speaking Protestants from the Palatine States or recent immigrants from England or Ireland.  Most of the immigrants from Ireland were Scots-Irish — descendants of Scots who had been transplanted to the north of Ireland from Scotland during the 1600s by the English Crown in an effort to “pacify” the rambunctious Irish (Catholic) natives.

Draper’s Meadow was settled about 1749-1750 by John Draper, his mother Eleanor, and sister Mary; Thomas Ingles and his sons; Henry Leonard; James Burke, Casper Barger and Philip, his son; and possibly others.  The total number of settlers was about twenty.

The Drapers were of Irish extraction –George  and Eleanor (Hardin) immigrated first to Pennsylvania from County Donegal, Ireland.  George and Eleanor had two children, John and Mary.  Sometime prior to 1745 the Draper family moved to Virginia and (probably) squatted on land on the North Fork of the Roanoke River.  George disappeared on a hunting/land-scouting expedition in the wilderness about 1748.  Subsequently his widow, son and daughter took up lands at the settlement that adopted their family name.3

Thomas Ingles  (possibly of Scottish origins) was born in 1700 in London, England and lived for some years in Dublin, Ireland. After his wife died, he migrated with his three sons (William, Matthew, and John) to Pennsylvania, settling near Chambersburg.  About 1744, Thomas and his oldest son, William, made their first explorations in the New River area of Virginia.  By 1750, Thomas was a Justice of  the Peace for Augusta County.  That same year William married Mary Draper, sister of John Draper, and took up residence in the Meadow.4

James Burke may have been born in Limerick, Ireland.  He emigrated to Philadelphia around 1720-1725.  He was in Chester County, Virginia by 1730.  He and his wife were married on the Roanoke River near Salem in 1742.

At the same time that Ingles, Draper, and others were settling the Draper’s Meadow site, the Bargers were staking out their homestead nearby.  Records show that they and other Palatine German immigrants had purchased lands from Patton’s grant, just to the west of the Ingles and Draper homes.5  Other families mentioned in the vicinity were those of Philip Lybrook, the McClungs, the McDonalds, thePrestons, and the Cloyds.

Shortly after the start of the French and Indian War, the Shawnee tribes of the western frontier swept down in a series of raids on the unprotected scattering of settlements of western Virginia.  On July 31, 1755 a band of native warriors attacked the homes of Col. James Patton, The Ingles family, Henry Leonard, the Barger family, and others.  Five settlers were killed — Col. Patton, Casper Barger and Philip Barger Sr., the infant son  of John and Mary Draper Ingles, and the elderly Eleanor (widow of George) Draper.

Mary (Draper) Ingles,  two of her sons (Thomas and George), her sister-in-law Elizabeth “Bettie” (Robinson) Draper, and Henry Leonard were carried off to captivity in the Shawnee villages located north of the Ohio.  Leonard presumably died while being forced to run the gauntlet.  Bettie (Robertson) Draper was eventually ransomed out of captivity in 1761.

Mary Ingles and a German woman who had been taken captive in a different raid escaped after several months in the hands of the Shawnee.  Their flight to freedom took forty days through  intractable wilderness before they reached the settlements again.  The details of the raid, captivity and escape are too extensive to repeat here.  For a good comparison of two versions of the narrative of the Draper’s Meadow Massacre and the captivity and escape of Mary Draper Ingles, see “What Really Happened at Draper’s Meadows”.

After the raid on Draper’s Meadow, the survivors of the native raids moved on to other frontier settlements.  Thomas Ingles, his son William, and Mary (Draper) Ingles moved a few miles west to the New River, where they established Ingle’s Ferry.  That ferry became an essential asset for settlers traveling along the Great Wagon Road to the Wilderness Road and Cumberland Gap.

Mary (Draper) Ingles’ son Thomas returned from Indian captivity after several years, and he resumed living in the New River area.  His brother George Ingles died while in captivity. Mary Ingles and her husband had several additional children after her dramatic escape from captivity.

In the next installment of this series, we shall look at additional settlements on the New River.

1 For more background on the Fry-Jefferson Map, see
2 Information about the history of Augusta County, Virginia is at,_Virginia.
4 Connelley, William Elsey and Ellis Merton Coulter, History of Kentucky

5 Chalkley, Lyman, Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia