Family Stories

Memorial for Major Robert and Ann West Powell – Boyle County

The Presbyterian Church, founded in 1784.  This building was erected in 1831, remodeled in 1996.

When Ritchey and I visited the old cemetery on the grounds of The Presbyterian Church of Danville in September, I was surprised to see a new memorial for Major Robert Powell and his wife, Ann West.  Looking through newspaper articles this memorial was just added in June, 2013.  As is written on the plaque Ann died in Danville January 5, 1837.  Robert Powell died May 14, 1815, presumably in Adair County and was buried on his plantation.  Major Powell received several land warrants for his service during the Revolutionary War, located on the Green River in Adair County.  On their trek from Virginia to Kentucky they lived In Danville for a while before moving on to Adair County.  Evidently Ann West Powell returned to Danville after the death of her husband, and lived there her remaining days.  She had children and other relatives there to support her and care for her in her old age.

The Advocate Messenger, Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Service to honor Revolutionary War major

An Honors Memorial Service for Major Robert Powell will be 2 p.m. Saturday in the old cemetery near The Presbyterian Church of Danville, adjacent to Centre College.  His wife, Ann West Powell is buried there, but his burial place is not known.

Powell was in the Continental Army in the Third Virginia Continental Line from 1776-1779.  He also served with the Virginia State Troopers through 1784.

Powell and his wife moved to Kentucky and settled near Columbia, Kentucky, on land granted for his service in the war.  The service is open to the public and is sponsored by descendants of the Powell’s.

The Advocate Messenger, Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Marking History

Family honors Revolutionary War soldier and wife

Major Robert Powell, a Revolutionary War veteran, and his wife, Ann, moved from Virginia to Kentucky soon after the war ended.  It’s been almost 200 years since Powell died, and some of his descendants, including Logan Cheek of New York, and his sister, Emily Cheek Curry, were in Danville this weekend for a memorial service to honor their ancestor.  They financed the new marker placed by the gravesite.

Powell’s wife, Ann West, is buried in a plot in the old cemetery near The Presbyterian Church of Danville on West Main Street.  Powell is believed to be buried in Adair County on his homestead.  Powell was among early pioneers who came to Kentucky along with the Fields, Ripperdan and Bledsoe families.

Powell and Ann were married in 1779 and moved westward settling on lands granted for his war service near Columbia, Kentucky.  Powell and his family joined the thousands of wagons traveling west from the tidewater, through Ashby’s Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, up the Shenandoah Valley and across the Appalachians through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky.  They settled on 4,000 acres along Green River in Adair County.  He got a warrant for the land for his services as a “Captain in the Continental Line for three years’ service,” signed by Thomas Meriwether, and countersigned by Benjamin Harrison, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, father of President William Henry Harrison, and grandfather of President Benjamin Harrison.

Another source indicated Powell received additional warrants numbered 26 and 27 in October 1787 from the Virginia House of Delegates.  A further warrant was issued on January 11, 1861, for 259 acres to “the heirs of John Powell, who was the heir of Robert Powell, deceased, a major in the state line for 7 years.”

Major Powell was in the Continental Army in the Third Virginia Continental Line from 1776-1779.  He also served with the Virginia State Troopers through 1784.  His career included service in Harlem Heights, White Plains, Crossing the Delaware, Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, Valley Forge and Yorktown.

Powell was born January 23, 1753, in Culpeper County, Virginia, and the eldest son of Ambrose Powell and Mary Bledsoe.  His father was a member of Dr. Thomas Walker’s 1750 expedition that was the first documented exploration into what is now the state of Kentucky by Virginians.  In his later years he was reputed to be “a good judge of tobacco, of good liquor, influential as a politician, jovial and unduly stout.”

Ann West, who was born July 29, 1762, was the daughter of Col. John West, a Burgess of Fairfax County (in 1762 and from 1766 through 1774) of West Grove in Alexandria, Virginia.  Her mother was Margaret Pearson.  Ann was a cousin of General George Washington.

The couple apparently moved to Kentucky after the birth of their third child, Robert West Powell in 1785.  Robert and Ann West Powell had 14 children, including:

  • John West Powell was born October 8, 1780. He first lived in Adair County, and later in Danville and Bowling Green. He married Ann St. Clair Moore, served as a major in the War of 1812, owned and managed the Green River Hotel, and engaged in merchandising in Bowling Green. John W. and Ann had 12 children, nine of whom survived:  Ann Eliza Powell Worthington, Mary Frances Powell Dudley, George M. Powell, Ellen Bledsoe Powell Long, Patsy Bell Powell Kennedy, John Giles Powell, Sarah Annie Powell Kennedy, Hobson Powell (an attorney and lieutenant in the Confederate Army who died at the Battle of Franklin Tennessee) and Thomas S. Powell. John West Powell died before 1838.  His widow died in 1840.
  • Frances (Fanny) West Powell was born June 1, 1783, and died July 1, 1833. She married the Rev. John Rice Kerr, (August 1, 1770-June 28, 1833) first principal of the School for the Deaf in Danville. Both husband and wife died within two days of one another during the great Asiatic cholera plague of 1833.  Both are buried in the churchyard of the Presbyterian Church of Danville.
  • Robert West Powell (referred to in some records as “Robert Powell, Junior”) was born February 3, 1785. He married Elizabeth G. Dawson. They had nine children, eight of whom have been identified:  Mary Ann, Benjamin, Amelia, Robert R., Eliza M., Susan C., John West and William D.  Robert W. represented Adair County in the state Legislature in the 1823-1825 session, then moved to Tennessee, where he was elected sheriff of Weakley County.  There he was remembered for getting into a fist fight with Davy Crockett.  In 1829 he resettled in Fulton, Hickman County, Kentucky.
  • Margaret Powell married Robert Bledsoe, her second cousin, and eventually settled in Clay County. The couple had 11 children: Ann West, Amanda G., Elizabeth, Frances P., Thomas, William Robert Powell, Patience, Alecia, Margaret and Joseph C. Powell.
  • Richard Powell
  • Anna F. Powell, who married major Caleb H. Ricketts.
  • Mary Bledsoe Powell, who married William Jones, remained in Adair County. They had at least three children, including Dr. W. Palmer Jones and Gaither Jones.
  • Amelia H. Powell, who died young and unmarried.
  • William M. Powell, who married Adaline (?), had five children and lived in Bardstown.
  • Susan Walker Fry Powell and John Adamson Jacobs had seven children: Ann Frances Mary, John West, Susan Hampton, Eliza Julia, Nancy Barbee, John West, Robert Powell and Joshua West Jacobs. Mary Powell, William Powell, Elizabeth Powell and Martha Powell died in infancy.

To the glory of God and sacred to the memory of Ann West Powell, buried on this spot, member of this church.  Born Fairfax County, Virginia, July 29, 1752.  Died, Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky, January 5, 1837.  Mother of John West, Frances West, Robert West, Margaret, Mary, William, Richard, Anna, Mary Bledsoe, Amelia, William M., Elizabeth, Martha and Susan Walker Fry Powell.

Cousin of George Washington, Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army

Beloved wife of Major Robert Powell, born Culpeper County, Virginia, January 23, 1753, died Adair County, Kentucky, May 14, 1815.  3d Virginia Regiment, Continental Army, 1776-1779, Virginia State Troops, 1779-1786.  Original member, Society of the Cincinnati, 1783, whose services and gallantry at Harlem Heights, White Plains, crossing the Delaware, Trenton, Princeton, Germantown, Brandywine, Valley Forge, Monmouth and Yorktown helped secure American liberties.

Robert Powell, Major, 3rd Virginia Continental line, Revolutionary War, January 23, 1753 – May 14, 1815.

4 replies »

  1. Margaret Pearson Powell married Joseph Craig Bledsoe, not Robert Bledsoe. The Clay County part is correct.

  2. Some of this information is incorrect: Margaret Powell married Robert Bledsoe, her second cousin, and eventually settled in Clay County. The couple had 11 children: Ann West, Amanda G., Elizabeth, Frances P., Thomas, William Robert Powell, Patience, Alecia, Margaret and Joseph C. Powell.

    Margaret Pearson Powell married Joseph Craig Bledsoe (who was not her second cousin, not Robert Bledsoe). They did settle in Clay County where Joseph died in 1829. Their children living to adulthood were: Frances Powell, Elizabeth G., Ann West, Thomas Montgomery, Patience Owsley, William H., Robert Powell, Margaret Jane and Joseph Craig Bledsoe, Jr.
    I am a direct descendant of Robert Powell Bledsoe / Margaret Powell Bledsoe / Major Robert Powell and was present for the ceremony mentioned in the article. Please correct the names if you can. Thank you.

  3. Major Powell’s actual grave has more recently been discovered in the Columbia, (Adair County) Kentucky cemetery in downtown Columbia. It is a modest, government-issued marble tombstone.

  4. From family history notes, this miniature is believed to be of Major Robert Powell, executed probably in the late 1700s or early 1800s. He bears a very close resemblance to his youngest daughter,


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