Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Roots as Red as Blood, Introduction

Roots as Red as Blood
Searching for My English Cherokee Ancestors

In the black season of deep winter
A storm of waves is roused
Along the expanse of the world.
Sad are the birds of every meadow-plain
Except the ravens that feed on crimson blood
At the clamor of harsh winter
The iron pot is put on the fire
After the dark black day
Celtic poem, 11th century

(Disclaimer…all the research represented here is my own interpretation of data collected from many sources. It may or may not be true. Welcome to the world of genealogy and historical research.)

Ten years ago I began a quest to find my ancestors. More than any other reason, I needed to claim my Cherokee roots. And now I have. Like many people here in Kentucky, I probably have more than one Indian line. But the first one I found was Nikitie. Finding her was the beginning of my quest. I found her and was then led along a winding path to all the others. Genealogical research is a labyrinth, a maze, a house of mirrors. Just when you are certain you have traced a line, it goes off in a completely different direction leaving your head spinning.
Nikitie was married to Gabriel Arthur, an Englishman. This is where the timeline gets confused. Gabriel Arthur is considered to be the first white man in Kentucky. He came through the Cumberland Gap in 1673 as a scout for the man he was indentured to, Abraham Wood. Nikitie was, I believe, the wife of Gabriel Arthur who was probably the grandson of Gabriel the scout. There are many variations of the spelling of her name which was passed down to female descendents.
But, this is not the entire puzzle here. We, their descendents, know we are descended from them. What we can not yet explain is the missing piece. Gabriel who came through the gap would have been too old to have fathered Martha Arthur, born at the Cherokee capitol of Chota in 1751. It seems that he must have had a son, or grandson, named Gabriel Arthur and it is he who married Nikitie and then had Martha.
Somewhere in all this, I have become a historian of the colonial south. This may seem like an absurd claim for someone who has never even sat in a history class, let alone taught one. After a lifetime of being denied the history of my ancestors, it is now an open door that I have walked through and will never leave.
By searching for Gabriel I learned about Abraham Wood, the man he was indentured to, and who financed the expedition in 1673 and then wrote a very lengthy letter describing it. I then realized that the letter was suppressed in the Virginia House of Burgesses, and that this may have had to do with Wood’s rival, William Byrd I. Then, in researching John Bannister, the missionary who was given a 1,730 acre land grant which a Gabriel Arthur settled with 34 other ‘persons’, I found that Bannister was “accidentally shot while on a scouting trip with William Byrd. The man who shot him, Jacob Colsen, was suspected of murder but then acquitted and soon after moved on to North Carolina.
My research has led me back right to the core of colonial history and with it to the British Empire that had extended its power to this continent in the 16th century. The Kings and Queens of England are no longer distant figures who have nothing to do with me. They were my history. I am the future they envisioned in the New World. This land that I now walk upon called Kentucky carries the place names and holds the artifacts of Great Britain. We still live that history here.
For me, the quest is no longer about proving exactly who an ancestor was. In reality, the further we go back in history, the less probability there is. As with all spiritual journeys, it isn’t just the destination that’s important, it is the journey itself. This research will take you back in time. Along the road you will meet many ancestors. Although you may not in actuality be descended from them, they shared with your ancestors common places and times, dreams and visions, language and art. You will find pieces of who you are.
There was very little curiosity on the part of my family about our origins. It is only myself and my two sisters, out of thirty-two first cousins, who seem to in any way identify with being Indian. I have come to the understanding that it takes imagination to imagine the past, just as it does to imagine the future. Modern life robs us of that imagination.
Our family names on my mother’s side are Drake and Spencer. When I was young I remember asking my aunts and uncles, “Aren’t those English names…from England?”
I got blank stares, “Well, I guess they probably are.”
I look at the faces of my uncles and see the genetic strains that have come through from England, Scotland, and Germany, and the people indigenous to America. In my mind, I can see them, my uncles, in kilts walking across the moors or on horseback with feathered head pieces blowing in the wind. How sad to spend your life looking in the mirror at your own face and not wonder who the men were who came before you, what tools did they use, were they kind or mean, did they dream of America as they looked out across the ocean?
There is a book I read that describes the people of eastern Kentucky in the early 1900’s as being “contemporary ancestors”. This still seems so true to me. The culture and folkways of the Old World have been preserved here. There are expressions of speech I have been hearing my whole life that I now recognize as Old English. When I hear an old woman say something like, “Lawd o mercy, it’s a fixin’ to rain on us down yere in this holler”, to me it just seems like the way people talk.
There were millions of people who fled the British Ilses in the 17th and 18th centuries. The American Plantation represented a new beginning, religious and political freedom, a chance to till your own soil. Of course they established that freedom by a diabolical system of enslaving others and committing genocide against the native inhabitants. Kentucky truly was the “dark and bloody ground”. But I believe that for the exiles from Great Britain it held all the promise of recreating their homeland. These hills and hollows were their England. And now, when I see the gently rolling pastures and the barns and sheds that have been standing for over a hundred years my soul is transported to England and Scotland. What joy they must have felt when they staked out their land and built their first cabin next to these springs.
In this book, I will be using the research I have done on my maternal side, and only a few of those lines. Normally, we would each have four maternal great-grandparents, all going back in separate directions. Not so with my mother’s family. I have one Drake line and three Spencer lines. My grandparents, Thurman Drake and Ila Spencer Drake, were cousins. They both were born in and died in Wolfe County, Kentucky. My granddaddy Thurman’s mother was a Spencer, and my grandma Ila’s father was a Spencer, and her mother’s mother was a Spencer. They all go back to two sons of Joseph and Mary Spencer.
Joseph Spencer was born about 1731, and died in Lee County, Virginia in 1837 in a place called Poor Valley. If the dates are accurate, he would have been 106, which is not impossible. My great-aunt died a few years ago at the age of 104. More likely, no one knew his exact birth year.
I will limit myself here to these lines; Drake, Spencer, Lester, Arthur. It will be plenty. Consider how many ancestors we each have. Two grandparents multiplied by two by two by two…going back six generations from our grandparents we already have 252 ancestors. My genealogy chart will be included in the back, to the extent that I feel fairly confident in its accuracy.
You will meet my ancestors here. But, you will also come to know how to make your own quest. I can’t imagine how we can ever find who we truly are without letting them speak to us. In a world that is so fragmented and uprooted I believe the ancestors beg us to find them.
They hide under stones and in the ocean and the heavens and perhaps in hell. But, this is the age of technology. You can find all the data and records you will ever need simply by learning how to do the research on the internet. If you have money and are able to purchase subscriptions and books and software, all that much easier. But I have not been able to. I have done most of my research for free.
The most frustrating and disheartening aspect of this research is all the information out there that simply isn’t correct. What has happened is that too many people, in their enthusiasm for this research, input inaccurate data into these sites and then everyone starts citing everyone else’s inaccurate information. Then it becomes “I know Joseph Drake must have been John’s father because I see it everywhere.”
Genealogy researchers use the term “primary” sources. This is the information which is the closest to actual fact. If there is an old family cemetery on the land your family has owned for 200 years and your great-grandfather’s headstone says he died in 1875, then there is an awfully good chance he died in 1875. An actual copy of a census record in the census takers handwriting is more conclusive than a transcribers notes 80 years after the fact.
The key to authoritative genealogy work is corroborate…corroborate…corroborate. You believe that your great uncle owned land in North Carolina and was married to a woman who had a twin sister. Where do you go to prove this? You begin with any information you can get your hands on, and then do whatever you can to prove or disprove it.
Being an effective researcher requires, not just knowledge of how to do research, but also knowledge of history and psychology. The last area is my primary field and it has been invaluable in tracing ancestors and understanding their behavior. You can’t trace African American ancestors and Native American ancestors without a grasp of the political system that held them captive. You can’t understand why great-aunt Polly ended up in a mental hospital in 1870, after bearing fourteen children and then discovering her husband had three other children she knew nothing about, unless you understand something about lust, rage, ego, terror, and shame.
I came across a record yesterday while researching someone else’s family that there was a man named John who wanted to marry a woman named Martha, but her sister Rebecca was the oldest and their father needed to marry her off first. John married Rebecca but then also moved in Martha and proceeded to have children by both women.Two for the price of one! Incest and polygamy in the south is not just a vicious rumor. It was a reality then; and it is now.
At the back of this book will be a bibliography of genealogical materials to guide you through your own quest. This book then becomes both a history book and a genealogical resource guide.
This is my song to my ancestors. They have been singing to me my whole life.

Surnames; Drake, Spencer, Johnson, Robbins, Caudill, Wyatt, Pennington, Daughtery, Deaton, Brantley, Adams, Landreth, Grayson, Lester, Arthur.
Given names; Dora, Thurman, Ila, Nathaniel, James, Mary Polly, William, Nancy, Catherine, Joseph, Sarah, Margaret, John, Joanna, Jemima, Alexander, Juliana, Moses, Elizabeth, Sampson, Mary, Virginia, Isabelle, Abigail, Gabriel, Hannah…and my Cherokee 5th great-grandmothers…Nikitie and Farabe. They came from a time before the last names began.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Virgin Land for a Virgin Queen

Chapter One
Virgin Land for a Virgin Queen
“In the beginning, all America was Virginia.”
William Byrd

Queen Elizabeth I of England, born in 1533, to King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. If there has been a more powerful woman in history than Elizabeth, I do not yet know about her. But when your father has your mother beheaded when you are only two years old, you might come to the realization that if you do not conquer the world, the world will conquer you.
Before she was nine years old, she had witnessed her father the King go through six wives. It is said of Henry VIII’s six wives that, in order, they were “divorced, beheaded, died…divorced, beheaded, survived”. Not only did the child Elizabeth have first-hand knowledge of this, her own young life was continually governed by the changing political climate of each of her father’s unions.
Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. This is not just myth, I believe it was the essence of her power. She would not be subjected to a man, although it seemed as though all of England conspired to find her a match. They wanted a royal heir from her, and besides, it simply was not in the natural order of things for a woman to remain alone, and especially if that woman then occupied the throne.
“She would do as God directed her, she told her visitors. It might perhaps be God’s will that she should not marry, and if that were so, he would no doubt make other provisions. For her own part she would be perfectly content if one day a marble tombstone should declare “that a Queen, having reigned such a time, lived and died a virgin.” She pulled the coronation ring from her finger, held it up to them and solemnly declared, not for the first or last time, “I am already bound unto a husband which is the Kingdom of England.”
She was bound to another husband, and that husband was Christ. Elizabeth was forever committed to the Protestant Reformation in England, which put her at odds with any group outside of the Church of England. It ultimately compelled her to order the beheading of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, who never wavered in her commitment to the papacy and the Roman Catholic Church. This represented the religious polarity that existed in 16th century England. It was this religious oppression and intolerance that was at the root of the exodus to the New World on the American Continent. In a biography about William Shakespeare, the author sums it up very clearly;
“For parents of John and Mary Shakespeare’s generation, the world into which they brought their children must have seemed strange, unsettling, dangerous: within living memory, England had gone from a highly conservative Roman Catholicism - in the 1520s Henry VIII had fiercely attacked Luther and been rewarded by the pope with the title “Defender of the Faith” - to Catholicism under the supreme headship of the king; to a wary, tentative Protestantism; to a more radical Protestantism; to a renewed and militant Roman Catholicism; and then, with Elizabeth, to Protestantism once again. In none of these regimes was there a vision of religious tolerance. Each shift was accompanied by waves of conspiracy and persecution, rack and thumbscrew, ax and fire.”
Before she was a Queen, she was a prisoner. In 1554, at the age of twenty-one, she was imprisoned at the Tower of London, being forced to pass through the “Traitor’s Gate”, and held for two months, under the orders of her sister Mary who had reigned as Queen since their brother Edward’s death the year before. From her window she could see the scaffold on which she was certain she would be executed. Years later, she confessed that she had thought of asking Mary permission to be executed by a swordsman, as her mother had been, rather than by an axe. Centuries later, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, captured her agony in this poem;

I would I were a milkmaid,
To sing, love, marry, churn, brew, bake, and die,
Then have my simple headstone by the church,
And all things lived and ended honestly.
I could not if I would. I am Harry’s daughter…
I never lay my head upon the pillow
But that I think, “Wilt thou lie there tomorrow?”
How oft the falling axe, that never fell,
Hath shock’d me back into the daylight truth
That it may fall to-day! Those damp, black, dead
Nights in the Tower; dead - with the fear of death -
Too dead ev’n for a death-watch! Toll of a bell,
Stroke of a clock, the scurrying of a rat
Affrighted me, and then delighted me
For there was life - And there was life in death -
The little murder’d princes, in a pale light,
Rose hand in hand, and whisper’d, “Come away,
The civil wars are gone forevermore:
Thou last of all the Tudors, come away,
With us is peace!” The last? It was a dream;
I must not dream, not wink, but watch.

It was reported that when Queen Mary died on November 17th, 1558, having just agreed to proclaim Elizabeth as heir to the throne of England, the twenty-five year old Elizabeth was found sitting under an oak tree in the winter cold, reading her Bible. When told the news of her accession, she knelt in the grass and quoted in Latin from the 118th psalm; “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”
There were three men under Elizabeth’s reign, all three cousins to one another, who played essential roles in the founding of the American colonies, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Richard Grenville, and Sir Walter Raleigh. I believe, in all probability, I am descended from the same Drake line as Sir Francis. These men were sailors, navigators, pirates, explorers, and eventually Knights. As they vied for the Queen’s favor, their rivalry grew, no doubt pushing them on toward greater exploits and warfare.
In the year 1585 Queen Elizabeth refused to let Sir Walter Raleigh make the voyage to the American Continent for the purpose of colonization. Instead, she granted permission to Sir Grenville. She wasn’t much worried about the native inhabitants of America as they were only heathen savages desperately in need of taming. All this land just waiting for British rule. Sir Richard arrived on the coast of present-day North Carolina on June 26th, and then established a small settlement on the Island of Roanoke. Relationships with the local tribes got off to a bad start. A silver cup in possession of the English disappeared. Grenville retaliated by burning the Aquascogoc village.
By late summer the fort was complete. Sir Richard left the 107 English men there and set sail for England, promising to return by spring with supplies. When he finally did return, he found that Sir Francis Drake had rescued the starving colonists and taken them back to England. In 1587 he left for England to bring supplies back to the colonists. He did not return for three years, and when he did, they had all disappeared, the only clue as to what might have happened to them being the word “Croatoan” carved on a wooden post.
The British settlement of Roanoke was in the middle of Croatoan Indian land. Fifty years after the inhabitants had disappeared with out a trace, a mixed-race people began to appear. Some of them had European features, spoke the English language, and lived in the same area in North Carolina as the Croatoan tribe. They are the Lumbee people, and they are believed to be the descendents of the Croatoans and the English settlers of Roanoke.
Richard Grenville was brought up at Buckland Abbey, and it was he who Sir Francis obtained it from through an intermediary. Buckland Abbey was a Cistercian monastery. In 1541 King Henry VIII dissolved the monastic orders and Buckland was sold to Richard Grenville, the grandfather of Sir Richard. The 1st Richard converted the Abbey to a manor house, intending it for his son Roger. Roger died a few years later commanding the warship Mary Rose. Buckland then passed to his son Richard who then sold it to Sir Francis Drake. It remained in the Drake family until 1948. It is now under the National Trust.
Sir Francis was born a few miles from Yelverton, near Tavistock, where a Benedictine Monastery was founded about 974 by the Saxon King Edgar. As a young man he sailed the high seas under the mentorship of men already experienced in pirating, slave trafficking, navigating, and exploring. Then in 1577 he was granted permission by Queen Elizabeth to set sail on what became a three-year voyage circumnavigating the world. Sir Richard Grenville had also requested permission to attempt the same voyage, but he was refused. On this voyage Sir Francis Drake claimed for the Queen the land of Nova Albion, believed to have been at Drake’s Bay in California, but now thought to be 500 miles north in Oregon at Whale Cove.
When he returned to England, the first English man to have circumnavigated the world, he was loaded with treasures he had plundered. Queen Elizabeth rewarded him generously, making him now a wealthy man. He then bought Buckland Abbey and some 40 properties also in Devon.
He made another voyage to the West Indies in 1586. He then sailed to the coast of Florida where he sacked and plundered the Spanish “presidio” of St. Augustine. It was then that he went to the colony of Roanoke and found the settlers in a state of starvation and engaged in hostilities with the Indian inhabitants. Sir Francis died of dysentery in 1596 on board his ship and was buried at sea off the coast of Porto Bello.
When Elizabeth died in 1603, King James succeeded her, and in 1606 formed the Virginia Charter as a legal instrument to again attempt a settlement on the continent. He offered certain “Knights, Gentlemen, merchants, and other Adventurers permission to inhabit a Colony in Virginia.” That colony became Jamestown. This new British conquest of North America embraced all the land along the eastern seaboard, from present-day Canada to present-day Florida. It was named Virginia in honor of Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen.
James was born June 19th, 1566 at Edinburgh Castle, son of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, and Mary, Queen of Scots. When he was thirteen months old Mary felt compelled to abdicate the throne to James. While he was in his minority, Scotland was governed by regents. He then succeeded to the throne as King James VI of Scotland. When his godmother, and cousin, Elizabeth died, he immediately left for England, taking his place as King James I of England. He reigned for twenty-two years as monarch of England, Ireland, and Scotland.
Lord Darnley was murdered in an explosion at Kirk o ‘Field by protestant rebels. They then arrested Mary and imprisoned her at Loch Leven Castle. She was never to see her son again after this. In 1568 she escaped to England, but was again imprisoned under authority of Queen Elizabeth. When she was beheaded in 1587 James declared it as a “strange and preposterous procedure.”
James took for his wife Anne of Denmark. When she attempted to sail from Denmark to Scotland, her ship was turned back by violent storms. James then went to fetch her with a “300-strong retinue”, also threatened by violent storms. It was during this time that he became preoccupied with the study of witchcraft. Denmark was a country already engaged in witch hunts. When King James returned to Scotland he became directly involved in an investigation claiming that there was a network of witches at North Berwick. One suspect, Agnes Thompson, confessed under interrogation that these witches had caused the storm that had almost capsized his ship
In addition to all the external threats to his life, he now felt at the mercy of unseen forces in the embodiment of those practicing witchcraft. In a conversation with John Harington, he said there was a weird apparition in the heavens in Scotland before his mother’s death, a “bloody head dancing in the air.”
From all this terror, inner turmoil, and religious study, James wrote three books, Daemonologie, The True Law of Free Monarchies, and Baskilikon Doron, (Royal Gift). He also commissioned in 1611 a new translation and compilation of the Bible, known as the King James Bible. When he died in 1625 he was succeeded by his son Charles who was executed during the English Civil War in front of his own palace of Whitehall. Then his son Charles succeeded to the throne.
King James had reason to fear. “Not only had his mother been executed by the queen on whose throne he now sat, but his father had died at an assassin’s hand. He himself had narrowly escaped assassination on at least one and perhaps more than one occasion. He believed that his enemies would stop at nothing in their attempts to harm him and his children: he feared not sharp steel alone but also wax figurines stuck with pins and the mumbled charms of toothless old women. Like Elizabeth and Henry VIII, he was made intensely anxious by prognostications: attempts to predict the future by sorcery or other magical means…”
The political and religious tension in 16th century Great Britain would have been more than enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown. It had continued through generations, under successive reigns, and with no obvious anecdote. It was capricious. Anyone could be tortured, imprisoned, or executed, for any reason. The masses of people were being displaced from their farms due to the greed of the landlords. The forests kept expanding so that the ruling classes could indulge their desire to hunt, further displacing the people who had no choice but to try and survive in disease-ridden, over-crowded, rat-infested cities.
To truly understand the history of the colonization of North America we have to understand what led to the mass exodus from Great Britain. They were fleeing for their lives and the lives of their children. The New World held hope that the Old World did not. Many people who came did so not by their own choice, but because workers were needed to work, women were needed to breed. The worst atrocity was the capture and enslavement of African people, and then the enslavement of native people in the various colonies. Countless prisoners, spinsters, and children were rounded up in London and other cities and brought across the sea.
Seventy years after the settlement of Jamestown, it was my ancestor, Gabriel Arthur, who was sent on a scouting expedition, along with James Needham, to penetrate beyond what any white man had yet accomplished. Gabriel was indentured to Abraham Wood. He may have been serving an indenture because Wood had paid for his transport from England. The following is a brief excerpt from a letter written by Abraham Wood to John Richards;
“This Indian John by his Indian name is calld Hasecoll, now you are to note that this Indian John was one that went with Mr. James Needham and my man Gabriell Arthur att ye first to ye Tomahitans and returned with Mr. James Needham to my house where he ye said John received a reward to his content and a greed with me to goe a gaine with him. and indeavour his protextion to ye Tomahittans and to return with Mr. James Needham and my man to my house ye next spring and to that end receved halfe his pay in hand. Ye rest hee was to receve at his returne. My poore man Gabriell Artheur all this while ecaptivated all this time in a strange land, where never English man before had set foote, in all likelihood either slaine, or att least never likely to returne to see ye face of an English man, but by ye great providence and protection of God allmighty still survives which just God will not suffer just and honest indevors to fall quite to ye ground. Mauger ye deivill and all his adherents, Well, shall now give a relation, what my man hath discovered in all ye time that Mr. James Needham left him att ye Tomahitans to ye 18th of June 74. which was ye daye Gabriell arived att my house in safety with a Spanish Indian boy only, with difficulty and hasard and how Mr. James Needham came to his end by ye hands of the barbarious roge Indian John that had undertaken his protection and safety and as briefe as I can give a touch upon ye heads of ye materaall matter my mans memory could retain, for he cannot write ye greater pity, for should I insert all ye particulars it would swell to too great a vollume and perhaps seeme too tedeous to ye courteous and charitable Reader soe I begg pardon for ignorant erors…
Now wee returne to my man Gabriell Arther. Ye Tomahittans hasten home as fast as they can to tell ye newes ye King or chife man not being att home, some of ye Tomahittans which were great lovers of ye Occheneechees went to put Indian Johns command in speedy execution and tied Gabriell Arther to a stake and laid heaps of combustible canes a bout him to burne him, but before ye fire was put too ye King came into ye towne with a gunn upon his shoulder and heareing of ye uprore for some was with it and some a gainst it. ye King ran with great speed to ye place, and said who is that that is goeing to put fire to ye English man. a Weesock borne started up with a fire brand in his hand said that am I. Ye King forthwith cockt his gunn and shot ye wesock dead, and ran to Gabriell and with his knife cutt ye thongs that tide him and had him goe to his house and said lett me see who dares touch him and all ye wesocks children they take are brought up with them as ye Ianesaryes are a mongst ye Turkes. this King came to my house upon ye 21st of June as you will heare in ye following discouerse.”
This letter is the only known source of the Needham and Arthur expedition. It is referenced wherever there is a history given of the efforts of the European settlers to penetrate beyond the mountains into present-day Kentucky and Tennessee, and then to continue the westward expansion all the way to the Pacific coast. Gabriel Arthur, in particular, is mentioned in most historical accounts. He olds a singular and prominent position in colonial history. Yet, for eight years I have been unable to find almost anything about him. Who were his parents? Siblings? Did he marry into the Cherokee or was it a descendent who married Nikitie? Where did he die?
There are two lines embedded in Abraham Wood’s letter that seem very crucial to me. It may help to explain why Gabriel disappeared into history. At the end of the first lengthy paragraph detailing Needham and Arthur’s journeys, he comments, “…all this I presented to ye Grand Assembly of Virginia, but not soe much as one word in answer or any encouragement or assistance given.” And at the end of the letter, “If I could have ye countenance of some person of honour in England to curb and bridle ye obstructers here for here is no incouragement att all to be had for him that is Sir Youre humble servant.”
In the next chapter I go into greater detail about what I have gleaned from various clues about Gabriel and Nikitie. For now I want to focus on a man named William Byrd I, a man who I believe may have played a primary role in the saga of Abraham Wood’s commitment to forge through to the west, and then receiving no acknowledgement from the Grand Assembly.
It seems to me that William I and his son William II have gotten a bit confused in historical accounts. For instance, the nickname “Black Swan” is sometimes associated with the father, and sometimes the son. To make it even more confusing, William II had a son William III. All three men played important roles in colonial history. But it would have been William I who was considered a rival to Abraham Wood as they were both landholders in Virginia in the early to mid 1600‘s, in the business of establishing trade with the Indian tribes in the area, and held positions as members of the General, or Grand, Assembly of Virginia.
When William I died in 1704 his 26,000 acre estate passed to his son. The Westover plantation mansion was built in the mid 1700’s on the James River and is considered one of the oldest and finest examples of Georgian architecture in America. William II had amassed 180,000 acres of land by his death in 1744. His uncle, Thomas Stegg, died without heirs and left his extensive landholdings to William. Then when his father-in-law died, William also acquired his landholdings. This land encompassed the area that would become Richmond and Petersburg. This land also may have encompassed the fifty acres that belonged to Gabriel Arthur.
Arthur’s Swamp was the site of a Civil War action that took place on September 30th, 1864. It is now a part of Pamplin Historical Park. It is referenced in accounts given of Civil War battles in the Petersburg area. Short of hiring a professional surveyor to create a platt map of the area, I am going to guess that the Bryd family land acquisitions went beyond, or encroached upon, the boundaries of land held by Abraham Wood and Gabriel Arthur. I have seen references to a court case filed in Henrico County between William Byrd and Gabriel Arthur. I have not yet seen that record.
William II was born in Virginia, and then as a young boy sent to England when Bacon’s Rebellion broke out. He was educated in England, and studied law at the Middle Temple. In 1696 he returned to Virginia and assumed his place amongst the gentry. He amassed a library of some 4000 books, and wrote several? Manuscripts himself, including “The History of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina”, and “Journey to the Land of Eden”.
These were very important chronicles describing life and political thought in the New World. But of even more interest to historians and the literary world are the secret diaries which he began in 1709. These diaries were written in a code that was not deciphered until the 20th century. They are filled with his sexual exploits, his cruelty towards his slaves, and religious piety begging God to forgive his sins. To give a few examples;
“I rose at 6 o’clock and said my prayers and ate milk for breakfast. Then I proceeded to Williamsburg where I found all well. I went to the capitol where I sent for the wench to clean my room and when I came I kissed her and felt her, for which God forgive me…About 10 o’clock I went to my lodgings. I had good health but wicked thoughts, God forgive me.”
“I ate roast chicken for dinner. In the afternoon I beat Jenny for throwing water on the couch.”
“Eugene was whipped again for pissing in bed and Jenny for concealing it.”
“Eugene pissed abed again for which I made him drink a pint of piss.”
William III inherited 180,000 acres of land, hundreds of slaves, and the Westover mansion. He continued the Byrd legacy of political power and was a member of the House of Burgesses. But he squandered the family fortune on gambling and bad investments. In 1777 he committed suicide at Westover.
“Then it was that one of the most interesting of colonial personalities stepped to the center of the Virginia stage. The services of Abraham Wood were immediately "employed att fforte Henery." Little is known of Wood's origin or of his family. A lad named Abraham Wood had come to Virginia on the Margaret and John in 1620 as an indentured servant and in 1623 was in the service of Captain Samuel Mathews. The 1625 muster of the colony's inhabitants that places Wood at Denbigh Plantation gives his age as ten years, but it is not clear whether this was his age in 1625 or in 1620 when he was brought to the colony. This boy has been accepted by historians as the distinguished man of later years. From 1638 until 1680 the records give a fairly connected account of his career. With the possible exception of Berkeley and Bacon he was outranked by none of his contemporaries. In 1638, 1639, and 1642 he is found busily patenting land in Charles City and Henrico counties. The establishment of Fort Henry, however, gave him his first big opportunity, for which he was apparently ready. In 1646 the General Assembly enacted That Capt. Abraham Wood whose service hath been employed att fforte Henery, be the undertaker for the said fforte, unto whome is granted sixe hundred acres of land for him and his heirs for ever; with all houses and edifices belonging to the said fforte, with all boats and amunition att present belonging to the said fforte, Provided that he the said Capt. Wood do maintayne and keepe ten men constantly upon the said place for the terme of three yeares, duringe which time he the said Capt. Wood is exempted from all publique taxes for himselfe and the said tenn persons…
The little party, all mounted, set out from the Appomattox village on the river opposite Fort Henry on the first of September 1671. Striking off due west from the Great Trading Path of the Occaneechi, they arrived on the afternoon of the fourth at Saponi villages on the Staunton River. There, "being joyfully and kindly received with firing of guns and plenty of provisions," they spent the night. The next morning Thomas Wood was so dangerously ill with the flux that he was left - in care of the kindly savages. Continuing due west, they had on the seventh day out from Fort Henry their first glimpse of the mountains and the next day passed over the first foothill of the Blue Ridge. On the eighth day they saw initials burned into the smooth bark of a tree trunk. s all am sets ddwn this momentous incident simply: "About one of the clock we came to a Tree mark'd in the past with a coal M. A. N. I." Three hours later they were at the foot of their first mountain. After / passing its steep rocky sides and twice crossing bends of the Staunton River, they continued westward; climbed one of the irregular, broken ridges that break the surface of the valley; crossed "a lovely descending valley" about six miles in width; and, again descending sharply, came to the Toteras town. Farther along they came on trees marked with the same letters they had seen on the eastern slope "and several other scratchments." They reached the longsought westward-flowing waters on September 13, 1671. Though the marked trees proved that they were not the first white men to pass the great eastern continental divide, they were the first to leave an account of the journey. Now for a day or two the way was over rich ground watered by streams that flowed through "bright meadows with grass about man's hight." Turning homeward, they looked back from a hilltop and saw "a fog arise and a glimmering light as from water." Fallam says, "We supposed this to be a great Bay," and they went on with light hearts, confident that they had reached the tidal waters of the western sea. At length, "hungry, wet, and weary," they came to the Appomattox town from which they had set out twenty-seven days earlier. On the first day of October they arrived at Fort Henry. When it is considered that the party followed an Indian trail through wilderness country, up and down mountains, crossing broad valleys, wading streams, sometimes three or four times in a day, that they were delayed by sickness and the necessity of hunting game for food, the journey of nearly 350 miles in 16 days-more than a third of it on foot seems remarkable.”
Until recently I had not yet attempted to trace my family roots in the British Isles. I wanted to first become as certain as I could of their whereabouts here in America. That land far across the sea seemed so very remote and unknowable. When I would mention that my family names are Drake and Spencer, invariably someone would remark that I am probably related to Sir Francis Drake and Princess Diana Spencer. I have always thought, well…probably not. Now, I am believing, well…yes, probably true.
The Drake lines I am researching all seem to go back to Devonshire, England, most records say Buckland. The village that grew around the abbey was called Buckland Monachoram, sometimes referred to as Buckland Drake. This is an excerpt from Sir Francis Drake’s will, made the day before he died on board his ship Defiance;
"In the Name of God, Amen. The seaven and twenteth day of Januarie the eighth and thirtieth yere of the Raigne of Our Soveraigne Ladie Elizabeth by the Grace of God of England, Frannce and Irelande Queene, Defender of the Faith, etc…I, Frauncis Drake, of Buckland and Monathorn, in the Countie of Devon, Knight, Generall of Her Majesties Fleete, now in service for the West Indyes, beinge perfect of minde and memorie (Thankes be therefore unto God), although sicke in bodie, doe make and ordaine my last Will and Testament in manner and form followinge, viz.: First. I commend my soul to Jesus Christ my Savior and Redeemer, in whose righteousness I am made assured of everlastinge felicitie, and my bodie to the earth to be entombed at the discretion of my executor. Item, I give, devise and bequeath unto my well-beloved Cosen, Frauncis Drake, the sonne of Richard Drake of Eshire, in the Countie of Surrey, Esquier, one of the Quiries of Her Majesties Stable, all that my Mannor of Yarckombe, scituate, lyinge and beinge within the Countie of Devon, with all the rights, members and appurtenances to the same, belonginge, or in anie wise appertaininge. To have and to hould all and singular the saied Mannor of Yarckomb, with all the rightes, members and appurtenances unto the same belonging, unto the saide Frauncis Drake, Sonne of Richard Drake, his heirs and assignes for ever."
The use of hereditary last names, or surnames, in the British Isles, came into being in the 11th century, when William the Conqueror brought England under Norman rule. They were taken primarily from four different sources; occupation (Baker, Smith), place (Carlisle, Kent), patronymic or metronymic, meaning son of a father or mother, (Williamson, Johnson), or descriptive (Armstrong, Wise).
Drake, in Old English was draco, and in Old Danish was draki, both meaning dragon. The Gaelic drak translates to something like the way, or one who leads the way. The 1st name bearer is often given as Leuing Drache in 1086. Sir Francis Drake was dubbed “the dragon.”
“Soon after the conquest of Wessex by the Saxons, a family or clan called Draco or Drago appear to have taken possession of an old Roman and British encampment in what is now Musbury, Devon County, England, which subsequently became known as Mount Drake. From this family it is probable that all of the name in England and Ireland are descended, as, although the crests of the various families of Drakes in later days varied, their arms were the same, thus providing the common origin of the family. That the family is of great antiquity is shown from the fact that before the Norman conquest, 1066, A.D., they were well established in Devon County. In Domes Day Book six places are mentioned as possessed by persons of the name. We are told that "Honitou, one of them, was well known to the Romans, and was held by Drago, the Saxon, before the conquest."
There have been many claims by various branches of Drake descendents that their ascendancy goes back to Sir Francis, and the estates at Buckland. An article written for The Western Antiquary, or Notebook for Devon and Cornwall,
“Bampfield Drake, Rector of Farway, Devon, and son of Joseph Drake, descended from Thomas, the youngest brother and heir of Sir Francis Drake, had left sons, Joseph, Francis, Bampfield, John, and William. I had succeeded in proving the extinction of all the male descendents from Thomas except in the three elder sons of Bampfield and from losing all trace of them, concluded they must have emigrated…Six or seven years ago an American lawyer was sent over to interview me. He spread an immense chart of pedigree before me, containing a host of names. Experience had taught me not to drop a leading word, I merely said, “Point me the right heir?” He laid his finger on the name Bampfield Drake, saying, “That is your man, stand or fall.” According to tradition, he was a clergyman in England, and descended from the first baronet, his two sons, Francis and Bampfield, migrated to South Carolina, and he showed me a rough plan of the locality, and I noticed that it was near Boone’s settlement. Francis Drake was killed by the Indians and his grave at the foot of a tree was well known to aged persons, among whom was a negress more than a hundred years old. All the evidences had been tested comfortably with American law, as there were no parish records to consult. The family had preserved their traditions carefully, and Bampfield had been in use as a Christian name among them. Feeling satisfied I agreeably surprised my informant by saying, “That on the morrow I would produce copies of Francis and Bampfield’s baptismal registers, and would show him the originals at Farway, in Devon, where Bampfield, their father, was rector.” I surmised that the sons had gone to Boone’s settlement because the rector’s cousin german*, Sir Francis Drake, had married Anne Boone (second wife), who, I knew by wills, was related to the famous settler, Daniel Boone.” (* my note…I do not know why the word ‘german’ is inserted here).
Another source, The Family and Heirs of Sir Francis Drake, goes in to great depth in chronicling the lives of the Drakes of Devonshire in the 17th century. The Sir Francis described below is the son of Thomas, who was the brother of the world-famous navigator Sir Francis Drake. In this account, his association with the Whig Party has caused a legal attack, which has resulted in his decision to leave England.
“Sir Francis Drake was one of the persons most viciously attacked. Early in January 1683-4, suddenly, without a note of warning, the Duke of York fell upon him.' A friend of Sir Francis in London, hearing of the proceedings, lost not a moment in conveying to him the alarming intelligence that an action of scandalum magnatum for words spoken four years before had been commenced against him by the Duke ; that damages were set at 100,000, and that a writ was coming down for his arrest. Bail for such a great sum was not to be had, nor could Sir Francis have entertained the faintest hope that, chosen as juries were then, he would upon a trial have any chance of winning a verdict against the Crown. Before the writ arrived, however, he managed, with the assistance of friends, to get his most valued possessions conveyed away and to have two deeds drawn up and executed, which for the moment secured his property from seizure. In the first of these (dated January 16, 1683-4) Sir Francis made a settlement of his recently acquired manors of Ley and Hawcombe in Beerferrers, placing them in the custody of his neighbours, William Morris, John Copplestone, Francis Calmady, and Richard Doidge, for the use of and in trust for his three daughters, Dorothy, Gertrude, and Frances. By a second deed he conveyed all his entailed estates and property whatsoever for the space of one year to Sir John Davie…Then he made his escape ; how, where, or with whose help is unstated. Probably Sir Francis was concealed in or near London. He was undoubtedly in town a month later, when something happened which quickened his alarm and showed him that it was no longer safe for him to remain in England.
On February 27 the above-mentioned settlements were hastily revoked, and Sir Francis mortgaged the whole of his estates of inheritance in Devon and Cornwall to his brother-in-law, Charles Boone, to whom he also gave a bill of sale on all his household goods and farm stock, as by schedule annexed, for a consideration of 1,800 ; the arrangement to be null and void if the principal, with interest amounting to 99, were paid off at the end of a year. By another indenture, the lands previously settled upon his daughters were mortgaged to Charles Boone for the sum of 700, also to be repayable within one year, but with the further stipulation that, if the principal and interest were not so repaid, the mortgagee might hold the property for ninety-nine years for the benefit of Lady Drake. Having thus 'disposed of his possessions and provided himself with ready money for a possibly prolonged absence, Sir Francis took ship and ' went beyond the seas, thinking it better to have his liberty in a foreign land than to be laid up in his own for 100,000.' Whether Lady Drake accom- panied her husband to the Continent, or at what place he took up his abode, we know not, but, if we may hazard a guess, we should say that he went to the Hague, for Holland seems to have been the rendezvous of all the disaffected Whigs.”
This Sir Francis returned three years later, and then lived out his life at Buckland. This account is interesting in that it shows how the political situation in the British Isles, and the whims of whichever King or Queen was in power, influenced the decisions of citizens, even those (or particularly), those with wealth, connections, and landholdings. And where did he go during those three years? It was his cousins, Joseph and Francis, sons of Reverend Bampfield, who did come to America and are mentioned in the previous account.
This Francis married three times. His second wife was Anne Boone, and she was, no doubt, a part of the ancestral line of Daniel Boone, the frontiersman whose name is now forever linked with Kentucky. His father Squire was born in Devonshire, and their ancestral home was Mt. Boone. She died after only five years of marriage to Francis. When I read this description of her vault, it resonated with what I have come to believe, and only recently. My Drakes and Daniel’s Boones were together in Devonshire, England. The marriage of Anne and Francis was immortalized by this coat-of-arms; “Drake impaling Boone”. How much more graphic could it get?
“Of the Lady Anne Drake,' as she is called, we hear but once again, simply to mention that she was buried at Buckland on December 22, 1685, in a newly made family vault then for the first time used. Her coffin, which is still in good order, is that of a tall woman. There is no inscription upon it, but we are assured that it is hers because on the marble slab, which covers the entrance to the vault, is a deeply carved coat-of-arms, Drake impaling Boone, and also because the other coffins deposited there all bear the names of more recently deceased members of the family.”
This concept of one family “impaling” itself into another family is new to me, as much of everything else is about England. I just read about this again in reference to William Shakespeare. His mother was Mary Arden. In 1583 Edward Arden, who was probably a distant cousin, and his son-in-law, John Somerville, were convicted of treason due to there Catholic leanings, and then sentenced to be executed.
“In Stratford-upon-Avon Will would at the very least have heard endless talk of these events, and if the distant family link meant something to him - and the fact that he eventually attempted to “impale” the Shakespeare coat of arms with that of the Ardens implies that it did - then he clearly would have been interested in them.”
The Spencer lines I am researching go back to Cople, Bedfordshire, England. The Spencer estate in Cople burnt to the ground in 1971. Until recently, I was certain that my Spencer lines went back to Nicholas Spencer of Cople, whose son Nicholas became governor of Virginia. As Princess Diana’s family estate is at Althrope, which is 30 miles from Cople, it was seeming that my Spencer lines link back to hers. I have seen genealogy charts that have it this way. But, this may not be true.
Spencer is an English name which appears to have French origins. The despencer was the person in a royal or noble household in charge of distributing the food and provisions. It was a very important position, just below the position of steward. As there were despencers in every estate from King to small baron, there are now many Spencers in the British Isles and America who may have no relation to one another.
First names, or given names, in colonial America, were primarily taken from the Bible, or the names of British Kings and Queens. These are some of the names I have come across most often in researching hundreds of documents; William, James, George, John, Henry, Samuel, Benjamin, Joseph, Alexander, Elijah, Ephraim, Charles…Elizabeth, Margaret, Isabell, Anne, Mary, Rebecca, Hannah, Martha, Catherine…
My ancestors, Joseph and Mary Spencer, played a prominent role in the settling of Lee County, Virginia, in the mid-1700’s. Their descendents then began moving west into Kentucky. Their sons William, Moses, and John, settled in the counties of Perry, Breathitt, Wolfe, and Powell. And, I descend from all three brothers, (or at least two of them).
No one yet seems to know who Joseph’s parents were, or anything about Mary. Spencer DNA testing seems to be revealing that Joseph was somehow related to William Spencer and Benjamin Spencer of North Carolina.
Joseph and Mary’s first two children appear to have been born in Wilkes, North Carolina. They then moved across the mountains into Montgomery County, Virginia, and then further west into Lee County. They owned several hundred acres of land, and they had slaves. It has been commonly believed that Joseph had a son named George Freeman whose mother was a slave. George Freeman’s descendents were in the same areas of Kentucky as Joseph’s other sons, so that might mean George was their half-brother. I’m not sure of how this conclusion was reached about George being his son, other than the following record where Joseph emancipates George. Because Joseph had other slaves listed in his will, this might imply that because he freed George, George was his son.
“Know all men by those present that I, Joseph Spencer, being convinced that Freedom is the natural right of every human being hereby from that conviction freely voluntarily and of my own choice emancipate and forever set free a certain mulatto man slave by the name of George Freeman, being about twenty four years of age well set and about five foot ten inches high. In testament whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 26th day of July 1814.”
After eight years of research, this is my general conclusion about ancestors going back to Great Britain. It may be that all the families in one Surname group, such as Drake, go back to a common place and root, and that in other surname groups, such as Spencer, there may have been no common root. Therefore, I might assume that, with some of my lines, if I could go back far enough, I would trace my lines to those 11th century families. I have come so far in researching my lines in the 19th and 20th centuries in Kentucky. Somewhere between 11th century Britain and 19th century Kentucky all the lines of my ancestors lie. The passion in all this for me has been in exploring the common history. My inner feelings and visions of my ancestors at places like Buckland Abbey are as real for me as my inner visions of my Cherokee ancestors in the mountains of Kentucky and North Carolina.
Given the very limited knowledge that I began with several years ago, there was no reason for me not to believe that the first intermarriage of the Drake and Spencer lines was when my granddaddy Thurman Drake married my grandma Ila Spencer on July 2, 1913 in Kentucky. We begin with some idea that all of our ancestors just happened to end up in the same place at the same time. Very quickly we see it was not that simple.
This is not how families and kinship groups came together in colonial times. In modern society, someone wants to move to New York to attend law school, they pack up and go. There is no need to have family there. They might not know one other person in the entire state. They can rely on the fact that there will be food, lodging, and policemen to protect them from crime. They go by plane, train, or automobile with fuel along the way to get them there.
Not so in colonial America. This was a wilderness. There was no way of knowing what would lie over the next mountain unless someone went before you to scout the way. Native Americans and immigrant Americans were at war over territory. The bears and wolves were none too happy about all the humans moving in on them. There were no hospitals, anesthetics for wounds, or antibiotics for infection.
Survival meant traveling in kinship groups. People went where they knew there was family and friends who had gone before them to settle an area. The scouts were sent first, others followed.
As I delved deeper into where my family migrated to before Kentucky, I found my Drakes, Spencers, and Olingers, all in southwestern Virginia, in the counties of Augusta, Russell, and Lee. When you look at a Virginia map you see that these counties are the farthest western counties, down in the southern panhandle of Virginia, nestled up against the Cumberland Mountains and the gap which was used by the colonists to pass through to the west, which was what Kentucky is now. I can imagine their kinship group establishing themselves there, populating, growing stronger, and then forging their way through the gap into Kentucky.
Then, as I kept meandering my way around the genealogical maze, I began to make other connections. My ancestor’s lives were intertwined with other prominent pioneers, most notably, the Boones. Daniel Boone, a name as synonymous with Kentucky as any other name in history. The forest that surrounds me is the Daniel Boone National Forest, a 707,000 acre tract.
Daniel Boone’s father, Squire Boone, was born in the area of Devonshire, England, into a Quaker family. His father, George, sent Squire and his brother and sister to America to the Quaker community in Pennsylvania, and the rest of the family joined them four years later. Squire married Sarah Morgan, and built a cabin in Oley Valley. Daniel was born in 1734. In 1748 Squire had to give a public apology to the Quaker community because his daughter Sarah had married a “worldling”, (a non-Quaker), and then when his son committed the same offence, they were expelled. Squire and Sarah then migrated from Pennsylvania, eventually settling on the Yadkin River in North Carolina.
According to the “Master Index of Virginia Surveys and Grants; 1774-1791”, Daniel, Squire, and George Boone were granted approximately 30,000 acres of land in Fayette and Jefferson county, Kentucky. This would have included all the land surrounding Boone’s Station, or Fort Boonesborough.
Until recently I had no idea that my family roots and Ol’ Daniel’s shared anything more than an intertwining at Fort Boonesborough in the late 1700’s. Joseph and Ephraim Drake, the sons of Samuel and Mary Cox, were at Fort Boonesborough. Joseph was killed by Indians in 1779, either at Blue Licks, or closer to the fort, leaving his wife, Margaret Buchanan Drake a widow with two children, John and Mary. My ancestor, Samuel Drake, was their brother. He married Margaret Preston, their son John married Martha Lester, granddaughter of Gabriel Arthur and Nikitie “Hannah”.
There has been so much written about Joseph and Ephraim Drake, the Long Hunters. They were, like Daniel Boone, always pressing forward through the wilderness, hunting and trapping, opening the way for others to follow. Joseph, with a party of other Long Hunters, were in the area that would become Fort Nashborough, as early as 1769. They maintained a camp on the Barren River, and one of the tributaries still bears the name of Drake’s Creek.
In 1773, Daniel arranged with Captain William Russell at Castle’s Woods to send a scouting party across the mountains into Kentucky. He left from the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina, traveled over the mountains to the Holston and Clinch Rivers, reached the Warrior’s Path in Powell’s Valley, and traveled to Wallen’s Ridge, present-day Lee County, Virginia. His eldest son James was then seventeen years old. Daniel sent James and some of the others back to inform Russell to bring more supplies. With this party was a Samuel Drake, who was “the son of John.” They were attacked before leaving Wallen’s Ridge by Delaware, Shawnee, and Cherokee Indians. James Boone was killed, as was this Samuel Drake, often referred to as the “Drake boy”. I am not sure that anyone yet knows who this Samuel was.
Loving this forest as I do, I read the following account about the Long Hunters, and felt transported back in time. “It was about this time that the hunters were startled by a strange noise coming from deep within the woods. Always wary of Indians, one of the hunters, Casper Mansker, grabbed his rifle, told the others to keep quiet and went to investigate the strange sound. Soon, from behind a tree, he discovered the source of the strange sound. Lying flat on his back looking straight into the heavens was a man singing a hymn at the top of his lungs. The singer was Daniel Boone.”
In the beginning of my genealogy quest I was very attached to proving that Joseph was my ancestor. And it didn’t help that this is the way it was given on several major genealogy sites. Joseph married Margaret Buchanan, the daughter of John Buchanan and Margaret Patton, who was the daughter of James Patton. James is attributed with having brought the first thoroughbred horse to America. That horse’s name was Bulle Rock and is considered the first sire and really the very beginning of the thoroughbred horse industry in Kentucky. You can probably imagine why I wanted to prove that James Patton was my very great-grand-daddy. I was hoping it might have at least gotten me a free ticket to the Kentucky Derby.
But, it appears that I descend from Joseph’s brother, Samuel Drake, whose wife was probably Margaret Preston. It is easy to see how this confusion got started. Both Samuel and Joseph had sons named John, who were first cousins and born at about the same times. Given the fact that families often migrated to the same areas it is very easy to get it wrong.
Now, to give another aside. (And this is what genealogy research is made of…you think you’re starting down one road and find yourself on another and there, ‘lo and behold’, you’ve found your 3rd great-grandmother where no one else had thought to look).
Joseph and Margaret had two children, John and Mary, when they followed Daniel Boone to his fort in the middle of the wilderness of Kentucky. After Margaret was widowed she was given a 400 acre land grant on Drowning Creek. She eventually went to Tennessee where she died in 1820. It is documented that she married a William Jones and had at least two children by him, William and Jane.
There are two other children who belonged to Margaret, one of whom appears to have been fathered by John Holder, who was also at Fort Boonesborough. Those girls were Rhoda and Sabrina. Rhoda married Eli Vaughn and lived and died in Lexington. Little Sabrina was physically handicapped in some way and has been traced to Cole, County, Missouri where she was sent to live after Margaret’s death.
Then, there is another daughter of Margaret’s named Euphemia who married Presley Anderson. Euphemia’s maiden name is often given as Jones, but there has been some question about William Jones being her father. It was only because I got curious again about Margaret Buchanan Drake that I found myself late one night perusing records in Tennessee. And that is what eventually led to the new information I now have about the Drake connection to the founding of Fort Nashborough.
Euphemia. It is not a common name found in the records. It is not exactly rare, but neither is it common. After searching literally thousands of documents I now have a feel for the first, or given names. Very often, when you find a very unusual name you will find it handed down to descendents. But, also it may have just become a popular name in that kinship group or neighborhood.
Margaret is sometimes given as having a third husband, Josiah Ramsey. I began researching Josiah and traced him from Virginia, to Kentucky, then to Tennessee, all places where Margaret had migrated to. Then, I find him as a founding father in Cole County, the same area where Margaret’s daughter has been sent to. Josiah had a sister named Euphemia. For me, this raises a legitimate question of Margaret’s daughter Euphemia belonging to Josiah Ramsey. I go into this in greater detail in Chapter Four. I use the stories of Euphemia and Sabrina to illustrate the lost history of women.
Daniel Boone’s lineage goes back to Devonshire, England, the same as my Drake lines. My Drakes were then at Fort Boonesborough with Daniel Boone, they were also at Fort Nashborough, Joseph was a long hunter, his widow Margaret’s daughters, Euphemia and Sabrina, migrated to Missouri and their lives were entangled with Daniel Boone’s and his sons. These Drake and Boone families were a kinship group.
The immigrants were leaving the British Isles by the droves in the 17th and 18th centuries. They left because of famine, greedy landowners, religious conflict, and a need to make a better life. They traveled to the American continent, and to the British colonies in the West Indies. They came to the original thirteen colonies on the east coast of what would eventually become the United States. From there, they kept pressing westward, and by the mid 1800’s were settled all over North America. The same conflicts that had dictated their lives in Great Britain followed them across the sea, pressing them to keep migrating their way to a greater and greater freedom.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Spencers in Colonial America

I am writing a film script based on my book, "Roots as Red as Blood; Searching for My English Cherokee Ancestors." This script is a very amitious and complicated project, and we will need funds to make it happen. I am in contact with people in England who are interested in a collaboration. Please pass this link along to anyone you know who is involved with filmmaking or financing.