Family Stories

Nathan Van Meter and Nancy Meredith Raise Large Family in Edmonson County

Hill Grove Missionary Baptist Cemetery, Edmonson County, Kentucky.

My bookshelves contain an extended collection of books on each county in Kentucky.  I do not have one for every county, but most of the 120 counties are represented.  Today I pulled the 1825-1989 Family Histories of Edmonson County, Kentucky.  In my cemetery photos I found those for Nathan Van Meter and Nancy Meredith Van Meter.  Nathan and Nancy are buried in Hill Grove Missionary Baptist Cemetery in Edmonson County.  I consider this county to be the ‘gateway’ to western Kentucky – just my name for it.  Grayson County is north of Edmonson, Hart is east, Butler is west and Warren and Barren are south.  This small church and cemetery are located in the northeast corner of the county, with only the Nolin River dividing it from Grayson County.  In the Van Meter history below it says Nathan was buried in the family cemetery on his farm.  Could that farm have been located where the Missionary Baptist Cemetery is now located?  This cemetery was hard to reach, I believe we took a ferry at one point.  It is small, unusual and very pretty, and located in the Mammoth Cave area.

The following family histories are taken from the book mentioned above.

In the memory of Nathan Van Meter, born January 17, 1788, died January 10, 1870, aged 82 years and 7 days.  ‘A united Baptist and died in the triumphs of the Lord.’

Nathan Van Meter

Nathan Van Meter was born on January 17, 1788, near Elizabethtown in present-day Hardin County, Kentucky, the son of John and Dinah Holtzclaw Van Meter.  His youth was spent on his father’s large Valley Creek farm until the family moved around 1806, to a 165-acre farm near Rock Creek in present-day Grayson County.

In 1814, Nathan married Nancy Meredith, the daughter of Joseph and Nancy Skaggs Meredith.  Joseph Meredith, the progenitor of the Meredith line of Grayson and Edmonson Counties, operated one of the earliest water mills in the Rock Creek area.

Around 1817, Nathan moved across the Nolin River into the relatively uninhabited “Forks” area of present-day Edmonson County, where he erected a log cabin for his family, not far from the later site of the famous Iron Furnace.  Nathan became quite prosperous on his large farm of over 600 acres as the Van Meter family planted their crops and orchards; raised their cattle, hogs and sheep; hunted the wild game; and caught fish from their fish traps constructed in the waters of the nearby Nolin River.

As his father and grandfather before him, Nathan practiced the Baptist faith and was a faithful member of the Nolin United Baptist Church which was near his home.

Nancy, wife of Nathan Van Meter, born 1792, died April 13, 1862.  ‘ Come holy spirit, heavenly dove, with all they quickening powers kindle a flame of ? love in these cold hearts of ours.’

Nancy Van Meter, the wife of Nathan, was born in 1792, and died on April 13, 1862.  Nathan died on January 10, 1870, in Grayson County, just one week before his 82nd birthday.  His body was hauled by a team of oxen to the family cemetery on his old homestead in Edmonson County.

Nathan and Nancy Van Meter reared a large family of 11 children:  Charlotte (1815) married Peter Meredith.  Jane (1816) married Thomas Meredith.  Stroud (1820-1879) married Rhoda Brooks.  Alexander (1821-1847).  Susannah (1823-1879) married William H. Sanders.  Thomas (1824-1853) married Lynda Brooks.  John (1826-1903) married Polly Brooks.  Shelton (1828-1909) married first Nancy Downs and second Winnie Jane Decker.  Malitta (1830-1898) married William Downs.  Abraham (1833) married Sarah Wright and moved to Missouri.  Cyrus (1835-1837).

Joseph Meredith

Joseph Meredith born in Virginia married Nancy Skaggs in Virginia, perhaps in 1775-1780.  Nancy was the daughter of Charles and Lucinda Thompson Skaggs.  Charlie was one of the “Long Hunters” of much history.  Charles Skaggs was given several grants in Green County, Kentucky, for his war efforts in the Revolutionary years.

With the Charles Skaggs family move, so did his married children move, too.  Many of his grandchildren were born in Virginia.

Joseph and Nancy Skaggs Meredith settled for a number of years in Green County before moving into the Rock Creek area of what is now Grayson County.  The records show that a number of their children married in Green County.  Their oldest son, Charles Wallace Meredith married Sarah Wells in Green County, 1801.  Thomas, another son, married Polly Brooks there in 1811, too.

One daughter, Suzanne Meredith, married Arron Skaggs, 1812 in Adair County. And the youngest daughter, Betsey Meredith married Smith Brooks in Edmonson County in 1825.

When Joseph and Nancy settled into Rock Creek, the year was 1809, their deed is recorded at the Hardin County Courthouse, as the county of Grayson was one year away from being made into a county, which it was in 1810.

Joseph and Nancy built a home and a grist mill on Rock Creek.  They were neighbors to the Van Meters, Brooks and Skaggs.  Some of their children were married in Grayson County; the courthouse in Grayson County has burned several times, so those records are impossible to find now.

Nancy Meredith was named in her father’s will, read in Green County in 1816.  The children are beginning to settle up and down along Nolin and Green Rivers.  The grandchildren are coming fast and every one of the sons named their sons for the father, Joseph.  As a result – there soon were so many Joseph Meredith’s around that nicknames were taken to tell the different families apart.  Nancy, too, was blessed with namesakes.

Nancy died in early 1840 on the Rock Creek farm.  Joseph lived alone for about six months after Nancy’s death, before his death in 1840.  They are buried in the old farm site, along side the Highway No. 1214 East from Grayson Springs, Kentucky.  There are no formal stones, but the grave sites are kept clean by relatives living nearby.

After the deaths, a will was filed in Edmonson County Courthouse because some of their children lived in Edmonson County.  Assuming that all the heirs were named, these names would be:  Charles Meredith, Thomas Meredith, Frederick Meredith, Alexander Meredith, John Meredith, William Meredith, Joseph Meredith, Jr., Betsey M. Brooks, Nancy M. Van Meter, Susannah M. Skaggs, and Linsey M. Skaggs who was represented by her friend and husband for their five children:  Susan, Ann, Archibald, Nathan and James Skaggs.  Oral history tells of other children, but no documented proof.

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