My West Virginia Roots Run Deep!
by Linda Steorts Kaufman
My name is Linda Catherine Steorts (Kaufman) and I am a charter member of Hackers Creek Pioneer Descendants. I'm about as much West Virginian as you can be but I didn’t realize to what extent until I moved to Bridgeport in 1974 and began to explore my roots in Lewis County and nearby areas. All my great, great grandparents lived in West Virginia and some of the families had already been here for generations by then but I did not grow up feeling surrounded by family traditions. My grandparents all died young, we didn’t live close to family members, and my parents just did not talk about their families very much. So I did not grow up hearing old family stories.
When the organizational meeting of the Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants was held at Broad Run Church in October, 1982 a distant cousin, Mabel Dent Linger Scott, introduced herself and was my guide as I began to find my family roots. She took me to see Don Stalnaker one Sunday afternoon. There were several people there so we didn’t get to talk long but he knew stories that had come down in the family. My great great grandfather George Steorts became a stepfather to his grandfather Bailey Stalnaker after Reverent John Mitchell married George to the widowed Eunice Bailey Stalnaker in 1827. Eunice was the mother of five children by her first marriage and was to have six more in her Steorts family. Mabel Linger Scott was a great granddaughter of Bailey Stalnaker.
The six Steorts children were Hepsibah, Mrs. Isaac Jackson; Sarah, Mrs. James McDonald; James William Steorts who died during the Civil War, Rulina, Mrs. John J. Bott; George Washington Steorts , and Perry Commodore Storts. Perry went to Missouri in the 1850s and his family spells the name Storts without the E. The only ones who carry on the Steorts name are descendants of my g.grandfather.
Two of the people Mabel advised me to visit were Mary Jackson and Ruth Smith Bell,both born in 1902. Mary and I were related through the Cookman family as well as the Jackson family. She lived in a large brick home on Main Street in Jane Lew, near the pre Civil War home of my great grandfather George Washington Steorts’ sister Hepsibah Steorts Jackson and her husband Isaac Jackson. Mary allowed me to copy a large amount of family history. The Isaac Jackson home was still standing in 1975 when I took this picture but it was soon torn down to be replaced by an apartment complex. The last person to live in the old home was their granddaughter Vieva Bailey who kept several notebooks of family history. A great nephew who inherited the records recently allowed me to copy them.
Ruth Smith was a great granddaughter of Isaac and Hepsibah Jackson. They were first cousins and both grandchildren if Minter Bailey, Sr. and Ann Nancy Norris Bailey. The Baileys were my 3rd great grandparents. Ruth lived on part of the original Bailey land, near the large Victorian home Isaac and Hepsibah Steorts Jackson built about the 1890s for their daughter Dora and her husband William Washington Watson.
I took this picture of the Victorian house in the fall of 1982. Since the picture was taken an addition has been added to what was already a large home. This is not the view of the house seen from Rt. 19 just North of Jane Lew. When the house was built the old road ran along Hacker’s Creek and the house was built facing the old road and the creek. Ruth Smith told me about where the old “Mansion House “ had stood about 200 feet away.
Ann Nancy Norris Bailey had a brother, John Norris, another Revolutionary War veteran, who settled on the West Fork River just below Jackson’s Mill. His daughter Juliet married David Jackson, whose nephew was to become the famous General Stonewall Jackson.
My uncle Earl Steorts was the only one who was interested in family history and it is because he wrote down some notes in 1907 while his grandfather was still living that we know anything of the Steorts family before George Steorts bought land near Jane Lew in 1817. As a child I heard him tell a story and understood him to say that some people were killed by Indians and were buried in a stone wall to hide the bodies. It was only after seeing the cemetery as an adult that I knew THE REST OF THE STORY!
About 20 years before the Baileys moved here Indians were on the rampage and the settlers were gathered in the fort at Jane Lew for protection. However, there was work that had to be done in order to have food. A party of men from the fort had come down Hackers Creek to work in the field and while they were occupied some Indians came out on the point overlooking the field and shot Thomas Hughes and Jonathan Lowther on the land later bought by Minter Bailey. The wall was built over 100 hundred years later with the two old Bailey stones becoming part of the wall.
An old album purchased in 1898 and filled with family pictures was inherited by Ruth Smith Bell after the death of her aunts who lived in the old Watson home. It is now in possession of Ruth Smith’s niece who allowed me to copy all the pictures. Her mother who was Ruth’s sister in law and who is now 103 years old helped identify the pictures but many are still unknown. Family names in the album include Bailey, Steorts , Watson, Jackson, Smith, Carr, Gaston, Davison, Bott, and others.
The Greenbrier area was one of the earliest settled in present day West Virginia and several of my family lines originally came through that area. James Charles Boggs, my 5th great grandfather had a mill on the Greenbrier River at the mouth of Spring Creek by the 1770s and his son Charles Francis Boggs marched from Lewisburg through the future Charleston to fight the Indians in the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. The Clendenins were another family in Greenbrier County. George Clendenin later founded
My seventh great grandfather William Walker came from England to Virginia by 1658. The first three generations of WalkerS were members of Saint Peter’s Parish Church in New Kent County, Virginia. William married Elizabeth Warren and their grandson Tandy Walker’s birth was recorded in the church registry in 1714. The church building was constructed in 1701 to 1703 and is still in use today.
St. Peter's Parish Church became famous for being the church of the first First Lady, Martha Washington. Her father and first husband were both vestrymen there. Martha’s great granddaughter married General Robert E. Lee who stated that George Washington was married to Martha in the church.
William Walker married Elizabeth Warren. Their great grandson Captain Sylvanus Walker and Sylvanus’s son Memucan Walker were both veterans of the Revolutionary War. Sylvanus Walker was a member of the House of Delegates in Virginia and later held a public office in South Carolina. Sylvanus had a patent for several thousand acres of land in the Greenbrier area and arranged for George Clendenin to locate it for him. George seemed to have mishandled it and there was a law suit over it filed in Augusta County. Title of some of the land remained in question for many years. Sylvanus married Sarah Blagrave whose family also had been in Virginia since the 1600s
Memucan Walker seemed to have moved around quite a bit. He taught the first school in Greenbrier County in 1796. but was also witnessing legal documents in South Carolina about the same time. Memucan was married three times. He first married Nancy Cargill in South Carolina and had children. Two of his sons from this marriage lived in Alabama. One was a Methodist minister who died in 1866. His second wife was Mary "Molly” Dorman from the Eastern shore of Maryland. This marriage was annulled by the State of Maryland, unusual in that day. He married for the third time Rachael Lewis in Greenbrier County where he lived until his death in 1836. They had a large family and were my 3rdgreat grandparents. Most of the rest of the Walker families moved South and West, from Eastern Virginia, then to Western South Carolina and then spreading to Tennessee, Texas, and beyond. One of Memucan’s brothers moved to Tennessee, went with General Jackson to fight the British at New Orleans and died after being wounded in the battle.
Greenbrier once included what were later to become several counties so it is not always possible to determine where some of the people actually lived. My 4thgreat grandparents, John Gray and his wife Jannett Craig, lived in that part of Greenbrier that became the new county of Monroe in 1799. Their grandson John B. Gray married Rosanna Ewing in Nicholas County in 1848. John and Rosanna Ewing Gray had a daughter Harriett Catherine Gray who married my great grandfather David Crockett Mullins. His father Marshall Mullins was born in VA, married in KY in 1841, and was living in Wyoming Co. VA (WV) by 1850. He died in May 1864 while in Civil War prison at Camp Delaware and was buried in Finns Point National Cemetary in NJ. He and his oldest son Squire were first in prison in Camp Chase in Ohio. They both contacted measles; Squire survived but always had weak eyes from the disease. I have hundreds of pages of Mullins history but have not been able to prove to my satisfaction who Marshall’s parents were although many people accept one couple.
Patrick Murphy was born in County Cork, Ireland about 1750 and died in 1820. He served in the French and Indian War and in the Revolutionary War. He was wounded in Georgia and served at Point Pleasant. His daughter Mary Murphy married George Cutlip and their daughter Susan Cutlip married James Anderson Boggs. They were my great great grandparents.
William Earl Dodrill, my 4th great grandfather, known as English Bill, took part in the Revolutionary War but it is not known definitely which side he fought for. He wandered to Augusta County, Va where he married Rebecca Lewis whose brother George Lewis, Jr was the father of the Rachael Lewis who married Memucan Walker. Dodrill was a friend of Daniel Boone and when Daniel went to Richmond to serve after being elected to the Virginian Assembly Dodrill went with him, first going by the way of Augusta County and leaving his wife and family at the home of her father George Lewis, Sr..
My great great grandfather Anson Mollohan, son of George Mollohan, Jr. married Anna Crawford Riffle. Her great grandfather Jacob Riffle who came to America from Germany before the Revolutionary War, settled at Heaters, WV at an early date while it was still part of Harrison County. His will is the first recorded in the record book of the new Lewis County in 1816.
Isaac Lemasters, my 5th great grandfather, owned several hundred acres in Monongalia County on both sides of the river and sold 200 acres of it to Zackwell Morgan. This later became a large part of present day Morgantown. After serving in the Revolutionary War, his son Benjamin Lemasters and his wife Rebecca Ann Martin settled in Nicholas County where they raised a very large family of all girls, three of whom married three sons of Charles Francis Boggs and his wife Mary Clendenin. One of these couples, James Clendenin Boggs and Mary Lemasters, had a son James Anderson Boggs who married Susan Cutlip, a daughter of George Cutlip and Mary Murphy.
Three sons of James and Susan Boggs were given farms on Elk River. My great grandfather Isaac Boggs and his wife Mary Perdilla Garee lived at Wallback. His brother Henry Clay Boggs married Mary’s sister Sarah Ann Elizabeth Garee and they also lived at Wallback. Through the Garee sisters we can trace our family line back to King Edward of England and on and on. Isaac and Mary lived in a two story log cabin built before the Civil War. It was torn down in the 1920s.
Isaac and Mary had a daughter Nancy Rosabelle who married William Washington Steorts . His parents were George Washington Steorts and Amanda Jane Cookman, both born at Jane Lew, WV in the 1830s.
They moved their young family to the Wallback area from Jane Lew in 1873. Today I-79 goes through the farms of all three families. The Steorts home stood until torn down when the highway was being built.
William Cookman 1758 – 1849, the grandfather of Amanda Cookman Steorts came to the Jane Lew area by 1800. He and other members of the Cookman family are buried at the Harmony Methodist Church Cemetery at Jane Lew. The original log church stood until about 1900 although it had not been used as a church for a long time. Amanda’s other grandfather, John Tracy is also buried in the old pioneer cemetery. Also some of the people captured by Indians and later recovered are there.
Amanda’s parents, Jeremiah Cookman and Elizabeth Jane Tracy, are buried in the Pleasant Hill Methodist Church Cemetery, also called the Jesse’s Run Cemetery.
At least two of my families who had been Quakers were around Prickett's fort in Marion County at an early date. Cuthbert Hayhurst, my 7th great grandfather, came to America after being persecuted and imprisoned in England as a leading Quaker. He didn't live long after his arrival and died of fever in 1733. He was a personal friend of William Penn. When Penn was told of his death, he writes, "Poor Cuttie, he would build his house down low on the creek when he had a high hill at the back which was more healthy." His grandson David Hayhurst married Sarah Warner in 1787 in Hartford County, Maryland. Both died in Marion County, WV.
My 6th great grandfather William Jolliffe and his wife Phobe came to the Valley of Virginia in the early 1700s. William was the first or one of the first attorneys admitted to practice at the bar at Winchester in 1743. He was affiliated with the Hopewell Quaker Meeting House located between Martinsburg, WV and Winchester, VA. The building was built about 1740 and is still in use today. They have all the records except for the first 25 years that were destroyed when “Brother Jolliffe cabin burned,” His grandson William married Catherine Collins, daughter of John Collins, and they settled at an early date on Paw Paw Creek not far from Prickett’s fort in the area that became Rivesville. After the death of Catherine, William Jolliffe married Charity Taylor Prickett Boggs, widow of Josiah Prickett and daughter of James Taylor. Charity was a mature woman when the fort was built; she lived a long life and in her later years told colorful stories of the Indian times.
Elizabeth Jolliffe, daughter of William and Catherine Collilns, married Benjamin Hayhurst, a – grandson of Cuthbert Hayhurst the immigrant, who served in the War of 1812. They lived on a farm on the Monongahela River in the vicinity of Muriales Restaurant in Fairmont, and both were buried in a family cemetery on the highest point of the farm. Benjamin and Elizabeth Jolliffe Hayhurst had a daughter Nancy Ann who married John Smith Garee. Their daughter Mary Perdilla Garee married Isaac Boggss.
I have arranged for several DNA tests, the first many years ago when a second cousin was good enough to test for the Walker DNA project where my line is documented back to 1658 in Virginia. A brother tested for a Storts / Steorts project I started. My daughter was interested so we had a test for the Kaufman side, and I recently did a Family Finder test.
The next few months after the organizational meeting of the Hackers Creek group in October 1982 I tried to get as much information about the various family lines as possible. However, I was busy with a new business venture that was requiring most of my attention. In March 1983 I opened the office of Kaufman Real Estate, Inc. and soon found myself working long hours as I trained new agents as the business grew and also became involved in outside activities. I chaired the Realtor’s committee that organized the first Multiple Listing Service in Harrison County, served as the Harrison County Board of Realtor’s President, earned the first Certified Residential Specialist Designation (CRS) in the county, was named Realtor of the year, and eventually served as the President of the West Virginia CRS Chapter. Non real estate activities included membership in the Clarksburg and the Bridgeport Chambers of Commerce which combined to become the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, became one of the early women members of the Clarksburg Rotary Club, served as President twice of the Newcomers Club and helped organize an investment club that is still very active.
For nearly thirty years I researched and collected as much family history as I could but mostly I just threw into boxes anything I was able to find. . Now with retirement I am trying to finally get organized. Joke, right? And I am so mad at myself for not making the time to talk more to those people who I met in 1982 who are no longer around. But opening all those boxes now is just like Christmas morning. There are some delightful surprises that I had forgotten all about.