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The First Virginia Militia
Genealogy Tips by Jeannette Holland Austin
The first militia in Virginia was form in 1607, upon the arrival of new settlers from England. After the all-out-war during 1623 of Chief Powhatan against all Virginians and the massacre of a great number of colonists, the Virginia General Assembly gave its command, viz: "
that men go not to work in the ground without their arms; That no man go or send abroad without a sufficient partie well armed." Further, during 1661 Governor William Berkeley stated that "All our freemen are bound to be trained every month in their particular counties." Thus, from the very earliest of days, it became necessary to carry guns and protect the colonists and this was done by forming Militia Companies in every inhabited area. The free land grants helped to populate the colony, however, even up unto the 19th century, the Militia was protecting citizens against Indians. It is always a good idea to research the history and time-frame of a given area to understand the situation.
Shawnee Chief "Cornstalk" Attacks Botetourt Militia at Point Pleasant
The Shawnees and Mingoes were causing havoc in the mountains of Virginia during the early 18th century. After the French and Indian War, Europeans began to pour into the region from Pennsylvania, traveling down the Wilderness Road into the mountains of Virginia (later Kentucky and West Virginia). They were Germans, Scotch-Irish, and Quakers from Philadelphia. The large quaker families of the Boones from Philadelphia drifted across these mountains in search of new homes. They had ten to fifteen children and the son of George Boone IV, Squire Boone (there were several generations by this name) moved in Botetourt County. Also, the Francis Easom family came to Botetourt from Talbot County, Maryland and during the process two of their daughters were kidnapped. Edward Franklin (of Spotsylvania County) patented 400 acres in 1734 on the NW side of Blue Water Run above the Little Mountain on a ridge in the Octonia Line at the foot of Piney Mountain (called Neds Mountain). A rock mill was nearby to process the octonia rocks in the region. Later on, the Orange County Minute Book of 1736 was petitioned by John Cleveland to reassign the road duty on Piny Mountain Run near Octonia Mill, stating that Edward Franklyn, Laurence Franklyn (and his son, Benjamin) should work the lower part of the road. This is exactly the site of the original land patent (in Orange County, later Botetourt County). When the Indian situation arose, volunteers, from the ages of sixteen to sixty, turned out to put down the problem. A son of Francis Easom, Samuel, enlisted, as well as James Franklin (probably killed) and William Franklin who had purchased land in Buchanan, on the banks of the James River. William Franklin was listed as wounded in the battle of Mt. Pleasant on October 10, 1744 and was released about a week later. The battle of Pt. Pleasant (or Kanawha) was fought primarily between the Virginia Militia and the Mingo and Shawnee Indians. During 1774 there was an increase of violence between the european settlers and Native Americans in western Virginia. Thus, the Virginia Governor John Murray, the Earl of Dunmore, attempted to impose peace by sending militia into the Ohio Valley. Lord Dunmore created two armies, personally leading seventeen hundred men from the north, while Andrew Lewis (of Botetourt Militia) directed eight hundred troops through the Kanawha Valley. Shawnee chief Keigh-tugh-qua, or Cornstalk, elected to strike the southern regiment before it united with the force of Lord Dunmore. On October 10th, about twelve hundred Indians under Cornstalk attacked the troops of Captain Lewis troops at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio rivers at present-day Point Pleasant. The battle resulted in significant losses on both sides and forced the Shawnee to retreat to protect their settlements in the Scioto Valley of present-day Ohio. As a condition of the subsequent Treaty of Camp Charlotte, Native Americans relinquished property and hunting claims on land south of the Ohio River. Consequently, the Battle of Point Pleasant eliminated Native Americans as a threat on the frontier for the first three years of the Revolutionary War and cleared the way for more rapid settlement of the region.
Genealogists Seeking Ancestors in Botetourt
The county changed several times. It was originally Orange, Augusta Counties, therefore it is necessary to explore the activities of the early settlers. Specificially, learn the officer under whom the ancestor fought, and follow the career of that officer. Lists of the volunteers under Captains Philip Love and Andrew Lewis are listed with the Botetourt County probate records and available to members of Virginia Pioneers
How Records and History write your Genealogy for You
The information exists. One simply has to look. I had searched for my William Franklin for nigh on fifty years. Other than a brief mention of his estate with the name of the administrator (luckily, his grandson) in Georgia, there were no clues as to his origin. Finally, I rolled up my sleeves and researched the pedigrees of all Franklin families before the Revolutionary War. A strong suspect was Thomas Franklin of Princess Anne County who named all of his children. All of the sons left wills and estates, save one, Edward Franklin. Edward had disappeared. I found an Edward who had drawn a land grant in 1733 in Virginia. The records revealed that the same grant was first in Augusta County, then Spotsylvania County, then Orange County, and finally Botetourt County. A search of the deeds in all of those places established it as the same land grant of 1733. One clue was that a William Franklin had enlisted in the Revolutionary War from Botetourt County. An unlikely clue when my William was in Georgia. Nevertheless, since Lord Dunsmore had sent his militia after Cornstalk, the Shawnee chief causing havoc in the state, I looked at the muster rolls of 1772 of the militia of Botetourt County. And there he was! William had fought in a war with the Indians. In fact, two companies of the Botetourt County Militia won the battle for Virginia because the other militia companies were slow to arrive. But the Shawnee (after losing) failed to keep the terms of the treaty and continued to raid, scalp and take white women as captives. Several years later, William's oldest son by his first wife, Thomas George Franklin, went to Currituck County, the location of the land grant of a grandfather who died before he was born) , and enlisted in the Revolutionary War under General Lee. In McCall's Roster of the Revolutionary War by McCall, it stated that Thomas was born on the James River. That statement led me to first trace around Tidewater, Virginia. However, the map revealed the course of that river extended all the way to Botetourt County, and that, in fact, he was born on the James River Mountain in that county! William Sr. and the rest of his grown children soon followed. Now I know the rest of the story!
While reading the Inferior Court Minutes of Botetourt County page-by-page research disclosed the site of the actual homestead of Edward Franklin when the Franklins were assigned road duty. Inferior Court Minutes contain tidbits of information, are often unindexed, yet yield an interesting story of the families in the neighborhood. That reading helped to break down the puzzle and assemble members the names of the children. Now I could understand that the first wife was Sarah Boone, a sister of Squire Boone and daughter of George Boone of the famous Boone lineage. Squire Boone had moved into Botetourt County, and Daniel Boone was a cousin. (All after reading old wills and estates)
The history of the area helped to define purpose and reason. A study of all of the wills and testaments in the county disclosed further information. Families were being massacred by the Shawnee, and a cousin of the Franklin was taken as a slave.
In conclusion, the goodies lie in the records, no matter how minute or trivial. And combined with the historical aspects of settlements and wars, it writes your family history for you!
Why did some Families go back East?
We need to understand why our ancestors settled in certain areas, then moved on. Sometimes it is quite puzzling, however, as the research progresses and we also study about the history surrounding their times, we begin to understand. The question "why?" is very important to the researcher. The gutenberg.org has printed several diaries kept by white slaves being transported across-country. According to the journals, they were always on the move. One father, back in Botetourt County, wrote hopefully in his last will and testament (about 1789) "my two daughters were taken by Indians. If they should ever be found, I want them to be taken care of." They had been gone over twenty years! The country was wild and treacherous, especially with the incursions of the Shawnee. I have traced several families in this region who, after the war with the Shawnees in 1774, went back East. But first I had to examine all of the musters and learn all about the war of Lord Dunmore!
Salem, Explored and Settled
The area surrounding Salem was originally occupied by Indian tribes, especially the Souan-speaking Totero people who still had a village there in 1671 when explorers Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam named the region Totero Town. Fort Lewis was later built West of the town (1752) in Roanoke County to protect settlers against the Indians and was named after General Andrew Lewis. Andrew Lewis distinguished himself in the French and Indian War, serving under George Washington in 1754 at Fort Necessity. In 1774, Lewis later led the Virginia troops against a Confederacy of Indian Nations in the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774 and during the Revolutionary War Lewis drove Lord Dunmore, the last British Governor, out of Virginia. In 1800, the son of General Lewis, William, sold 31-acres to his neighbor James Simpson for $100. At this time, fewer than twenty-five families inhabited the area between the Roanoke River and Fort Lewis Mountain, but Simpson subdivided the land he purchased from William Lewis into purchasable lots on each side of the ":Great Road".; Through the sale of those lots, Salem quickly grew into a prosperous community serving travelers as they headed west along the Great Road. In the first decades of the century, local businesses included taverns, stables, blacksmith shops, wagon and buggy repair facilities, groceries, clothing stores, a horse racing track, and a canal navigation company. The same road bed known as the "Great Road" into the region later became US-11 and Interstate 81. The town of Salem was officially settled in 1802.
George Hartman, a waggon-maker, owned several town houses and lots in 1823, mentioned in his last will and testaemtn. Also,
upon the death of Thomas Goodwin in 1818, his estate reflected that he owned three tracts of land consisting of 181 acres on the north and south sides of the James River.
Origins of Virginians
Botetourt County, Virginia Genealogy, Wills, Estates, Marriages, Military Records
The first court house was constructed in 1772, built with logs, destroyed by fire in 1848. There were several fires which destroyed subsequent buildings and a new building was built in 1975. The county was formed in 1770 from Augusta County and it derived its name from Lord Botetourt, the Governor of Virginia.
Botetourt County Wills, Estates, Marriages available to members of Virginia Pioneers
- Old Map of Botetourt County
- Wood Map of Botetourt County
Indexes to Probate Records
- Index to Wills, Deeds, Estates 1824 to 1829
- General Index to Deeds 1770 to 1889
- McCoy, James, LWT (transcript)
- McCoy, John, LWT (transcript)
- Wallace, John, LWT (transcript)
- Index to Marriages 1770 to 1853
- First SUrveys 1770 to 1772
- List of Volunteers of 1744 from Botetourt County in Dunmore's War
- Veterans of War of 1812 published in Fincastle Herald 1 Oct 1899
- Some Revolutionary War Records
Digital Images of Botetourt County Wills 1824 to 1829
Anderson, Robert ;
Bannister, Elijah ;
Betts, Elisha ;
Bowyer, John ;
Byrd, Thomas Sr. ;
Calhoun, William ;
Compton, William ;
Freeman, Aggy ;
Getty, Jeremiah ;
Goodwin, Thomas ;
Gulliford, Anna ;
Hartman, George ;
Holstine, Stephen ;
Horn, Charles ;
Kinsey, Christian ;
Knight, James ;
Lacklin, Elisha ;
London, James ;
McClanahan, Sarah ;
McElhaney, Samuel ;
Obenchain, Philip ;
Patterson, Timothy ;
Peffley, David ;
Pitzer, John ;
Reed, Frederick ;
Reed, Thomas ;
Shaver, Andrew ;
Smith, Absalom Sr. ;
Spiller, Jacob ;
Stover, William ;
Terry, Stephen ;
Wallace, David ;
Wallace, William ;
Welch, John ;
Digital Images of Botetourt County Wills 1829 to 1838 Testators: Anderson, Nancy ;Arms, Andrew; Book, Philip; Bowyer, Henry; Breckinridge, James; Britz, Adam; Cartmell, Henry Jr. ;Copp, Christian; Crawford, Josiah; Crush, Daniel; Crutchfield, Thompson; Detzett, James ;Dillon, John ;Douglass, John ;Eller, Jacob ;Falls, James ;Ferrill, Stephen ;Floyd, Edward ;Franklin, David ;Gist, George; Gish, Jacob ;Harvey, Robert ;Johnston, Charles; Jordan, John ;Kittinger, Rudolph ;Kyle, Sarah ;Lemmon, Frederick ;Little, William ;Lyon, George; Mayline, Reason ;McDonald, William; McKaliston, Garland ;Middlecaugh, John ;Mitler, Valentine ;Parker, Caleb;Poage, George; Poage, William ;Preston, John ;Quigley, Margaret ;Robinson, Isaac; Rowland, William; Safford, Adam; Sharkey, Nicholas ;Sheck, Jacob ;Sherrit, Thomas; Smiley, William; Snider, Mathias ;Stewart, Samuel ;Stever (or Stover), George ;Stover, John ;Taylor, Allen; Thomas, Francis; Van Meter, Hester ;Weitzel, John ;Whalen, Dennis ;White, Samuel ;Whitten, William ;Wilson, Thomas
Traced genealogies and family histories of Botetourt County available to Members !