Wednesday, January 3, 1900
Archibald Woods, Sr., of Madison County, Kentucky
Archibald Woods, known in after life as “Senior,” to distinguish him from a son of that name, who was a prominent lawyer of Madison County, Kentucky, was the fourth son of Col. William Woods, of Virginia, and Susannah Wallace his wife. He was born in what is now Albemarle County, Virginia, on the 27th of January 1749, and was married on the 5th of August 1773, to Miss Mourning Shelton, a daughter of William Shelton and Lucy Harris – Lucy Harris being the daughter of Major Robert Harris and Mourning Glenn; and Robert Harris, the son of William Harris and Temperance Overton. William Harris was the only son of Robert Harris, an immigrant from Wales in 1651, who married a widow Rice (nee Claiborne). Temperance Overton was the daughter of William Overton and Mary Waters, and William Overton was the son of Col. Overton, who commanded a brigade of Ironsides at Dunbar, under Cromwell.
In 1774, Archibald Woods, Sr., moved to Monroe County, Virginia, being then a resident of Montgomery County, Virginia. He entered the military service of the United States, as Captain of Virginia militia and at once set out from what is now Monroe County, Virginia, under Col. Russell, on a march of 200 miles to the relief of Fort Watauga. This expedition lasted about six weeks and the return march was hastened by an express bringing the intelligence that the Shawnee Indians had commenced hostilities. On reaching home he found the people forted, and he was placed in command of the fort and local defenses until spring. After this, except during intervals of inclement winter weather, he was almost constantly employed in the frontier defenses – first under Col. Samuel Lewis, then under Col. Andrew Donnelly, and lastly under Col. James Henderson, until after the surrender of Cornwallis in 1781. He then surrendered his commission as Captain of Virginia militia to the Greenbriar County Court, and never saw it afterward.
He first came to Kentucky in December 1781. He returned to Virginia in February 1782, and removed with his family to Estill Station, Madison County, Kentucky, in the fall of that year. The next year, 1783, he made his first Kentucky crop on Pumpkin Run where he had contracted with Col. Estill for 400 acres of land, including a spring represented to be everlasting, but, the spring going dry that year, the contract with Col. Estill was cancelled, and in January 1784 he bought land on Dreaming Creek, a few miles north of the present site of Richmond, where he built Woods’ Fort and lived between 25 and 26 years. The first land he bought in Madison County is described by him in a deposition as “1,000 acres of as good land as any in the Estill Station survey,” and the price paid for it was a rifle gun.
The original commission of Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia, appointed him with nine others, “Gentlemen Justices of the Peace” for Madison County, Kentucky, to take effect August 1, 1785 – the natal day of that county – is still preserved in the possession of Judge William Chenault, of Richmond, Kentucky. The same document also appoints the same persons “Gentlemen Commissioners of Oyer and Terminer,” with full jurisdiction to try and punish slaves for all penal and criminal offenses – including the infliction of capital punishment.
He was still a magistrate in 1798 and as such voted for the removal of the county seat from the Old Town, or Millford, and presided at the court that established and named the town of Richmond, making it the county seat and became one of its first Trustees. He was appointed sheriff of Madison County, May 4, 1801.
After a long litigation and possession of a quarter of a century, he was finally evicted of his home and land on Dreaming Creek in a suit brought by one Patrick, and being disgusted with the land-laws of Kentucky that in the afternoon of his life, took from him his home and the bulk of his estate, on a mere technicality, he moved with his family in the fall of 1809 to Williamson County, on Beans Creek, middle Tennessee. In that state his wife, Mourning Woods, died September 7, 1817, aged 61 years and 8 months. On January 30, 1818, he married Dorcas Henderson and lived for a time in Franklin County, Tennessee. This marriage proved a very unhappy one, and a separation having occurred, he returned to Madison County, Kentucky, in 1820. In January 1833, being then a feeble old man of 84 years, and well-nigh stripped of his property, he filed an application at Washington for a pension for military service in the war of Independence, and was promptly granted a pension of $480 per annum, to date from March 4, 1831. But for the affidavits of himself and witnesses then living, in this application, and the pension, no documentary proof could now be had of his military service except the Virginia military land warrant. He died December 13, 1836, aged 87 years, 10 months and 17 days, at the residence of his son, Archibald Woods, Jr., Fort Estill, Madison County, Kentucky. Archibald Woods, Sr., was a fine specimen of the old Virginia gentleman. He maintained his carriages, horses and driver up to his death. He was a man of marked intelligence, great personal pride and dignity. The hospitality of his home was proverbial and his life public and private, was pitched on the highest ideals of manhood and patriotism.
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