On the Road Again

My great grandfather, George Charles Felix Butte, married the charming Bertha Woodfin Lattimore. My Lattimores go back to the earliest days of the Virginia and Carolina colonies.  They made their way from Pennsylvania down the Great Wagon Road to settle amongst the Indians that still lived there.  The Stocktons were some of the earliest settlers in Virginia Colony and left their mark on the land.  Like the Renfros who moved from Kentucky to Illinois, the Lattimores also left the South for Indiana.  

From “The Lattimores, A Family History”, by Esther Lattimore Jenkins, we have the following, perhaps fanciful, account. In about the year 1690, three brothers, John, Daniel, and Samuel Lattimore, sailed from Ireland to Philadelphia. John and his brothers were probably “Scotch-Irish”.  They may have been orphans and they probably arrived in Philadelphia as “bonded” (indentured) servants.  Bonded servants were of two categories, voluntary and involuntary.  In the first category were those men and women who desired to come to the colonies but were too poor to pay the costs of transportation.  Of their own accord they bound themselves to an employer for a specified time in return for transport and maintenance.  The involuntary category included orphans, vagrants, paupers, debtors, and convicts.

John Lattimore, the youngest, was then a mere boy and had red hair and blue eyes.   There are several John Lattimores in a row here, so I will refer to them as “John the Immigrant”, “John Sr.” and John Jr.”   John the immigrant left Philadelphia and settled in Virginia with his wife Sarah.  This migration was part of a general trend.

Around 1732, the first large group of Scotch-Irish settlers migrated to Virginia from Pennsylvania along the Great Wagon Road. By the year 1736, Virginia was flooded with Scotch-Irish Settlers. In Prince William County, Virginia, the Lattimores settled near an old Indian Trail leading south to the Carolinas. This trail was used as a major road by the settlers, and became known as “The Old Carolina Trail”. It is likely this is the trail the Lattimores used on their trek south, always after more and better land.

They settled in the wilderness of the western Carolinas until after the Revolutionary War. Around the beginning of the nineteenth century, when more land was opening up, most of the Lattimores pushed on west. Although one branch of the family stayed in North Carolina, others went to Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana, always taking up land and starting churches.

The Allegheny and Appalachian Mountains prevented settlers from moving directly west.  Instead, they moved southwest along the valleys carved in the Allegheny Mountains by the various rivers.  Once in Virginia, settlers could cross into Kentucky along the Wilderness Trail and through the Cumberland Gap, as the Renfros did.  Or they could continue south where the road ultimately reached South Carolina.  And by now we know where those big Conestoga wagons came from.

A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina. Drawn by Joshua Fry & Peter Jefferson in 1751, published by Thos. Jefferys, London, 1755. This landmark map, unusual in that it relied on firsthand surveys, is the first correct depiction of the Allegheny Mountains, complete with ‘The Great Road from the Yadkin River through Virginia to Philadelphia distant 455 Miles’ – an accurate survey of what would come to be styled the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road.

John the Immigrant and his wife Sarah had a son, John Sr. who married Isabel Frazier, who is known only for having had three sons and three daughters all with red hair and blue eyes except Sarah, who had black eyes and black hair.  And almost all of them married a Stockton:

Francis Lattimore (ca 1744-1817) married Rachel Stockton
John Lattimore, Jr (1745-1821) married Jamima Stockton
Margaret Lattimore married Newberry Stockton
Daniel Lattimore (ca 1750-1831) married Ann Stockton

Jamima, Rachel and Newberry were also siblings. And Ann was their cousin.  Daniel and Ann are my ancestors.

Before we move on with the Lattimores, I want to tell you a little about the Stocktons.  The paternal grandfather of Ann and her cousins, Rachel, Jamima and Newberry, was Davis Stockton.  There is a lot of baloney in online genealogy, and off-line as well, so I spent two days believing that Davis Stockton was related to a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  I even wrote it up, with references and everything.  But then I stumbled upon a description of how DNA evidence proves this to be untrue.  However, Davis was a very interesting person in his own right without needing to be related to anybody and left his own mark, literally, in the pre-revolutionary Virginia Colony.

Davis Stockton’s origins are unknown.  He is believed to have come from Ireland but there is no evidence.  He first appears, with his family, in the Ivy Creek area of Albemarle County, Virginia on March 12, 1739 when he obtained a grant for 400 acres.  So we don’t have any record of where he or his children were born, including Samuel, Ann’s father.  Even the name of his wife is disputed.  But Davis left his mark, or marks, on Virginia.

Among the earliest settlers in the western part of the county, who came as is said under the leadership of Michael Woods, was a family named Stockton. Though their name has entirely disappeared, they have in a number of ways left their mark behind. They consisted of several branches. They erected perhaps the first mill in that section of the county. The north fork of Mechum’s River still bears the name of Stockton’s Creek, the south fork in early times was called Stockton’s Mill creek, and the first name by which Israel’s Gap was known was Stockton’s Thoroughfare. The famous abbreviation of D. S. is also ascribed to the head of the family. One story recites that Michael Woods and Davis Stockton landed at Williamsburg, and came to the wilds of Goochland together, that arriving at D.S. [which is just a tree], they advanced in different directions, Woods continuing straight forward to Woods’s Gap, and Stockton bearing to the left along the foot of the mountain towards Batesville, and that as a memorial of the place where they separated, Stockton carved his initials on a tree.

Albemarle County in Virginia, by Rev. Edgar Woods, 1901, pp. 319-320

The D.S. Tree remained a landmark for many years.  It even appears in orders from the Goochland County Court for building roads. “Road to be Clear’d . . . On the Petition of . . . Davis Stockdon . . . Sam. Arnett [Samuel Arnold], Richard Stockdon, Thomas Stockdon . . . Leave is given to Clear a road from Thomas Morrisons to the D.S. tree in Michael Woods road.” 

In fact, an early map of the road that became a part of the Three Notched Road clearly marks the “D.S.” tree, which is about half way between University (of Virginia at Charlottesville) and the Mechum River. Eventually, a tavern was opened at the D.S. Tree.  Taverns played a very important role in Colonial America.  This is where local residents went to meet and share news.  Travelers stopped to eat, refresh their horses and stay overnight.  They were the cell phones, restaurants, newspapers, gas stations and motels of those days.

D. S. Tavern is one of Albemarle County’s few remaining early ordinaries and the only one in the region to preserve its original bar cage. Tradition holds that the tavern marks the site of the D. S. Tree and the zero milepost of the Three-Notched Road, a principal artery from Richmond to the Shenandoah Valley in the 18th and 19th centuries. “D. S.” is said to stand for [Davis] Stockton, who blazed the trail from Williamsburg and carved his initials on the tree. 

Virginia Landmarks Register, edited by Calder Loth, 1999, p. 11

This next map, made in 1864, identifies only the dwellings and the names of the owners.  The D.S. Tree would be at Dr. Stevens house, which was probably used as a tavern.  The road running south from there is the way Davis went a century before.

Map of Albemarle County / from surveys and reconnaissances made under the direction of Albert H. Campbell Capt. P. Eng. & Chief of Topographical Dept. D.N.V. by Lieutt. C.S. Dwight.

The tavern still exists today.  It started as a one-room log structure and was expanded over the centuries.  The original building is probably on the left.

D.S. Tavern

Most of Davis’ children left Virginia, which probably explains the disappearance of the name at Israel’s Gap and Stockton Creek Mill.  Only his son Thomas, father of Jemima, Newberry and Rachel, died nearby, in Charlottesville.  

Davis’ son Samuel, when he was about 18 years old, served in the Albemarle County Militia in 1758 to protect the frontier from Indians.  Virginia was the frontier.  Shortly thereafter, Samuel married Prudence Torbet and they had three children.  At least, only three are mentioned in his will.  Their only daughter, Ann, married Daniel Lattimore in 1770 in Albemarle County, Virginia.  

During the next two years, Daniel and Ann, and maybe Samuel, can be traced through land purchases and sales from Virginia to South Carolina to North Carolina, where their children, and many grandchildren, were born in Rutherford County, North Carolina, just over the state line from Spartanburg County, South Carolina, where the Bryants lived.  I’ll get to them later.

But around 1810, Daniel, Ann, their children and grandchildren, were on the wagon trail again, crossing the Appalachian Mountains along with thousands of other adventurous souls, to Indiana.  This became possible when the Wilderness Trail opened and the Cumberland Gap was widened, in 1775, by Daniel Boone and his buddy, James Renfro, Jr., to allow for the passage of wagons through the gap. 

Once again, some of my ancestors are in the same area at the same time.  But this time these are my mother’s ancestors on the same path as my father’s ancestors. However, these families didn’t come together until my parents met 130 years later in Dallas. But this is not too surprising.  The new country, as well as its population, was small and those who eventually met in Iowa and Texas would have had to travel  through the same gaps and along the same roads that opened in the mountains and the frontiers as they became “settled”. 

As with all my Southern ancestors, I will not shy away from their participation in America’s original sin, slavery. Here is a newspaper advertisement placed by Samual Stockton offering to sell some of his land for “half the value of it money in negroes.” It is very distressing to see such a casual reference to his willingness to trade land for humans in bondage. 

However, for Daniel, the move from the southern states may have been due to slavery.  Daniel Lattimore was a staunch Presbyterian, and Presbyterian ministers were preaching abolition even at this early date. Although the 1790 Census shows that Daniel’s brothers Francis and John owned slaves, Daniel did not.  Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois attracted many settlers from the slave states because the act creating the Northwest Territories specifically prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude.

In 1811, Daniel Lattimore arrived in Jefferson County, Indiana Territory with his family, including his son John and his wife Isabella (Carson) and her parents, Walter and Mary Carson. Indiana Territory was mostly unclaimed land and considered to be still in hostile Indian Territory.  Daniel erected a large two story home out of hand made bricks, with walls 18 inches thick. According to Mrs. Jenkins, the house was still standing on the road between Deputy and Kent, was well kept, and was being lived in in 1982.  

Daniel Lattimore died 12 February 1831, and Ann Stockton died 28 March 1838.  Lattimore descendants remained in Jefferson County, Indiana for generations.  But remember what I said about my mother being 99% southern stock?  So, Indiana not being in the south, someone had to make the return trip.  That would be Daniel’s grandson, Samuel Stockton Lattimore, who had made the trip north with his parents, John and Isabella (Carson) Lattimore, as an infant and would return south to live a very different lifestyle.

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