Sunday Salute ~ Colonel James Blair ~ “Ride of the Rebel” ~ Revolutionary War

Patriot picI recently discovered documentation about my 6x Great Uncle, James Blair. I have been trying to spend more time digging into the lives of my Great Aunts and Uncles instead of just concentrating on my direct line ancestors. To say I am excited about what I have found about James would be an understatement! The following is just a small amount of what I have found.

James Blair was born on March 6, 1761, in Augusta County, Virginia. He was the third child born to Colbert and Sarah (Morgan) Blair. They lived in the section of the county called the Shenandoah Valley, so James grew up in the vast open lands, hunting game, riding horses, and enjoying the outdoors. By 1772, the British and the Colonial settlers were on the verge of having a war with each other.  It is said that the British agents inflamed the mountain Indians by giving them whiskey and guns and encouraging them to drive the settlers out of the beautiful valley.  So, for the safety of their family, Colbert and Sarah moved southeastward into Guilford County, North Carolina.  After a few years, they moved again into the Cedar Valley of Caldwell County, North Carolina.

In 1778, at the age of 17, James felt the call to join in the fight against the British. He served until the end of the Revolutionary War,  first as an orderly then as a sergeant, ensign, and an Indian spy with the North Carolina troops. Every time his service ended, he reenlisted and as a result, he served under about 16 different commanders. He eventually reached the rank of Colonel by the end of the war.

When he was 19 years old, he joined Colonel McDowell’s regiment and he became one of Express riderthe express riders because of his riding skills. In early October 1780, word reached Fort Defiance in North Carolina that General Ferguson and his troops were positioning themselves on King’s Mountain preparing to take on the much smaller unit of Patriots. Colonel McDowell called upon James to make the long journey of riding for over 24 hours to warn the Colonists and the other fighting units in the area of Ferguson’s plan. This dangerous ride began in Quaker Meadows near Marion, North Carolina, and it was a long-distance of frontier backroads with many streams, creeks, and rivers to cross. There were enemy sharpshooters along the route and James was wounded by the British during a volley of rifle fire. He was shot in the shoulder, but he continued his ride. He was successful in bringing Colonel Kings Mountain map 2Benjamin Cleveland along with the 350 men of Wilkes and Surrey County North Carolina in to strengthen the Colonial forces. His ride was instrumental in stopping the thrust into the Carolinas by the British redcoats.  James along with Cleveland’s men joined with the tough Overmountain men on horseback, who wore coonskin caps and every man carried a small-bore rifle, a tomahawk, and a scalping knife. The Patriots charged the hillside multiple times, demonstrating lethal marksmanship against the surrounded British troops. Unwilling to surrender to a “band of bandits,” Ferguson led a suicidal charge down the mountain and was cut down in a hail of bullets. All the southern Colonists looked upon young James as a true hero, much like the famous rider from Boston, Paul Revere.

James was referred to as the “Paul Revere of the South” and Thomas Trotwood Moore Thomas Trotwood Moore picwrote this poem titled “The Ride of the Rebel”:

“The race of the rebel, wilderness run
The race for a nation just begun
You will find it not on the gilded page
But on King’s Mountain’s starlit stage
Over the Border, the British came,
Their jackets red as the sun,
City and hamlet had felt of the fall,
From the flash of the Red Coat’s gun.

Over the border, Ferguson rode,
He never rode back again,
For Jimmy Blair his horse bestrode,
And galloped with might and main.

To Cleveland and to Campbell’s tent,
O’er hill and o’er valley he sped,
And roused the patriots as he went,
As Gabriel would rouse the dead.

Go! For your country’s life, he said,
And away like a ghost, he was gone,
Riding from morn to midnight on to morn.
Oh, never was a race like that,
Since gallant steed was born!”

Blair line GA & Indian Nation boundry made by James BlairAfter the War, he married Elizabeth Powell and they had 7 children. He then served as a Captain during the Cherokee Indian War. He eventually moved to Habersham Co, Ga. and he became a land surveyor. He surveyed “The Blair Line”, which was the historic line between the State of Georgia and the Cherokee Indian Nation in the early 1800s. It ran from the forks of the Soque and Chattahoochee Rivers in a direct northerly line to the Tallulah River. It was the boundary line established in 1817 for the purchase of all lands east of the Chattahoochee by the State of Georgia from the Cherokee Nation in accords with the Treaty of 1818. James was appointed as an Indian Agent and he brokered the deals between the Governor of Georgia and the Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation.

He was the first representative from the County, and he went on to be a senator from James Blair HSHabersham from 1819 until his death on March 31, 1839. Altogether, he served over 20 years in the state legislature. He died just 5 days after his wife Elizabeth. They are buried in a long-abandoned cemetery in the woods. Her headstone is still readable however his was not. Some of his descendants had a stone made and they laid it in the ground next to his wife.

 

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I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Susannah Redmond-My Native American Ancestor

VIrginia indians earlyWhen the English colonists settled Jamestown in 1607, the Patawomeck Tribe was a very large tribe of the Powhatan Federation.  They quickly made friends with the English colonists and eventually even became their allies, refusing to help the leader of the Powhatan Federation, Chief Opechancanough, younger brother of Powhatan, who tried to obliterate the English in the great massacres of 1622 and 1644.  Without the help of the Patawomeck Tribe, the settlement of Jamestown would almost certainly have failed to survive.  The Patawomeck supplied the Jamestown settlement with corn and other food when they were starving.

In 1607, the Patawomeck Tribe was settled in the areas we now know as Stafford and King George counties.  The English pronounced the name of the tribe as “Potomac,” from which the Potomac River derived its name. Their chief, called the “Great King of Potomac” by the English, appears to have married the sister of the Great Chief Powhatan. The Great Chief’s next younger brother, “Japasaw,” was the Lesser Chief of the Tribe. Japasaw was known as “Chief Passapatanzy,” as that was where he made his home. The famous Indian, Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan, was visiting Japasaw’s family at the time that she was taken captive by the English, who had hoped to use her as a bargaining chip to force her father to release the English captives that he had.

Pocahontas had many family ties to the Patawomeck. Her mother has long been thought by historians to have been a member of the Patawomeck Tribe. Also, one of Japasaw’s two wives was a sister of Pocahontas, and the first husband of Pocahontas was Kocoum, the younger brother of Japasaw.

The rule of the Patawomeck Tribe eventually fell to Japasaw’s son, Wahanganoche. Those were very troubled times for the Patawomeck, as several influential colonists tried to take away the land of the chief by making false accusations against the tribe for the murders of certain colonists. Chief Wahanganoche was taken prisoner by the English and was forced to stand trial in Williamsburg. The chief was acquitted of any wrongdoing, much to the dismay of the greedy colonists who wanted his land.

In 1663, on his way home from Williamsburg, Chief Wahanganoche lost his life. From indianimplications in a letter written by Col. John Catlett, it appears that the chief was ambushed and murdered in Caroline County near the Camden Plantation. It is ironic that his silver badge, given to him in Williamsburg by authority of the King of England, for safe passage over English territory, was found 200 years later at Camden, where it had apparently been lost as a result of the chief’s murder.

Shortly after the death of the chief, in 1666, the English launched a full-scale massacre against the Patawomeck and other area Virginia Indian tribes. Most of the men of the Patawomeck Tribe were killed, and the women and children were placed in servitude. A few of the Patawomeck children, who were orphaned by the 1666 massacre, were taken in by area colonists.

John Redmond who was born in England in 1625 came to Jamestown in 1655 with his wife Ann. After the massacre, they adopted 16-year-old “William” who was one of the children who had survived. William took the last name of Redmond. He married Elizabeth Ann Elkins about 1672 and they had a daughter Susannah born in 1690. This made Susannah ½ Patawomeck Indian.

Susannah is my 6th Great Grandmother.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

This Is So Frustrating!

FrustratedHave you ever been frustrated trying to find information on a critical ancestor? I have. I am also surprised that I can find 10+ documents/sources on an ancestor who came to America in the early 1600’s but I can only find 3 on my Great Grandfather who was born February 14, 1853 in Hazel Hill, Missouri. Oh, but his wife, my Great Grandmother, has over 20 documents/sources!

I have been searching for information on Pleasant (Plesent) Smith for over 20 years. pleasant ml 2Here is what I have found thus far. He married Sarah Jane Page (McDowell, Farris/Parris) on April 13, 1882. She had been married twice before Pleasant and once after. My Grandfather, John Pleasant Smith was born September 8th, 1882 so apparently, she was pregnant before they got married. I have John’s Social Security Application and he states that Plesent and Sarah were his parents and it has their dates of birth. I also have a Census Record which I will explain about later.

I can find no birth or death records. In John’s 1920 Census he states his Father was born in Texas. I know this information can vary depending on who answered the door and gave the it. So, there is no proof of where he was born. In my baby book the date and place of birth was given as stated above but again no solid proof.

The legend or oral history passed down from my Mother was that Pleasant was a Creek Indian. He had deserted his tribe and married Sarah. Sometime after the marriage some of the tribesmen found him, killed him and dismembered his body. They then placed the parts on the railroad tracks, so it would appear the train ran over him. A gentleman found the body before the train came. This occurred sometime between 1882 and before 1894. My Mother also told me that some after Sarah married her last husband James Newhouse in 1894 that Sarah got a letter from the Creek Tribe addressed to Chief (she couldn’t remember the name). She said Sarah sent the letter back unopened. Does this prove that he was Creek Indian? I don’t think so.

census 2On Sarah’s marriage license to James it lists her last name Parris/Farres. So where is the name Smith? This brings me to the Census record I mentioned above. In the 1870 Census it has a Pleasant Parris working on the farm of Norman Wyckoff in Lincoln, Putnam, Missouri. He was 17 years old same as my Pleasant. The last name matches the marriage license. So, could it be that this is my Pleasant?

Does anyone have any wisdom, ideas or good advice of where I can go from here? No wonder my hair is turning white and I am getting black rings under my eyes.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

Something to Ponder Next Time You Get Stuck in Your Family History

Pondering

Yesterday my husband and I went to the Arizona State Fair. Each year one of their biggest attractions is the Native American Dancers that perform throughout the day. I enjoy taking photos of the colorful costumes and of their dancing. Growing up my Mother had told me that I was part Creek Indian. Her SONY DSCGrandfather, Pleasant Smith, was supposed to have been a full-blooded Creek. I have never been able to prove or disprove this as he is one of my solid brick walls. I believe my interest and appreciation for Indian Culture comes from the hope that maybe I am Creek.

SONY DSCThe dancers who performed at the fair were all from tribes here in Arizona. One was Navajo, one was Hopi SONY DSCand one was Zuni. They sang, beat the drums, played the flute and danced. It was wonderful! After the performance we went to talk with the young men and during the course of the conversation the Navajo, Lane Jensen, mentioned that his Ancestors had all been Hoop Dancers. Ancestors? Did I hear him correctly, Ancestors? This is not a word that can just be used lightly around a Genealogist. I began asking him questions explaining that I am a Genealogist and I write a blog. He was more than happy to answer my questions.

SONY DSCThe Navajo Nation consists of about 90 “Clans”. When a Navajo baby is born, he or she belongs to the clan of the mother. The clan names always passes on to the next generation through the Mother. Whenever a young man or woman gets married they are not allowed to marry anyone within their Mothers Clan. This is also the line that they trace their Genealogy through, the maternal Clan line. Whenever a Navajo meets another Navajo they always include an introduction of their clans. They would say they were born to (their Mothers Clan name) and that they were born for (their Fathers Clan name). This way another Navajo would precisely know who they are.

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So why do I say this is something to ponder when you find yourself “stuck” or hitting a brick wall? Well according to Lane, all people within a Clan are related. In the Navajo way, two Navajos of the same clan, meeting for the first time, will refer to each other as “brother” or “sister”. Navajos that are cousins to each other in the American sense, think of each other as “brother” or “sister” in the Navajo sense. Father’s and Mother’s cousins in the American way are thought of as aunts and uncles in the Navajo way. Grandparent’s brothers and sisters in the American way are thought of as Grandmas and Grandpas in the Navajo way. So let’s say in my case my Grandfather had 10 siblings so therefore I would have 4 more Grandmas and 6 more Grandpas in my line. This would be so confusing.  Then add in all the “Brothers”, “Sisters”, “Aunts” and “Uncles” and your Family Tree would jump by hundreds.

Although this concept is actually very wonderful because this way of life makes everyone related and they all have the responsibility to take care of one another, to a Genealogist this way of labeling family could become a nightmare! So the next time you get stuck just remember the Navajo and how much more difficult your tree could be.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.