Family Stories

James Combs 1772-1852 – Scott County

In our last post we talked about the youngest daughter of James Combs, Mary Theresa, born when he was 75 years of age.  Today we will discuss his older children, from the marriage with his first wife, Matilda Smith.

James Combs married Matilda Smith September 29, 1806 in Washington County, Kentucky.  It may seem unusual that James would go that far from Scott County for a wife.  However, the group who settled in Scott County were originally to have gone to Washington County, to the Pottinger’s Creek settlement, where many of their neighboring farmers in Maryland settled in 1785, sixty families total by the end of the migration.  Perhaps James knew Matilda before the move to Kentucky and they planned to be married at some point.

According to James’ will he and Matilda had eight children – nine are listed but I believe Mary used the name either Susan, Margaret or Elizabeth, her middle name:

  1. Sylvester Combs, 12 Feb 1808 – 16 Mar 1884, died Missouri, married Lucinda Jane Hamilton, 1815-1887.
  2. Robert Combs, 9 May 1810 – 24 Sep 1864, died Missouri, married, Mary Cecilia Worland*, 1821-1893.
  3. James Combs, 16 Sep 1813 – 7 Oct 1873, died Missouri, married 31 Aug 1839 in Scott County, Mary Theresa Worland*, 1813-1867.  James married second Anna Gabriella Worland*, 1832-1910, younger sister of his first wife.
  4. Ann Rebecca Combs, 22 Jun 1819 – 6 Oct 1850, died Missouri, married Benedict Joseph Gough, 1815-1856.
  5. Mary Combs, 12 Nov 1823 – 03 Feb 1855, died Missouri, married James R. Gough, 31 Aug 1839 in Scott County, 1812-1842.  Married second George Beaven Gough, 1816-1885.
  6. Sarah Jane Combs, 28 May 1827 – 19 Jul 1888, died Missouri, married 07 July 1845, in Scott County, James Guy Worland*, 1824-1898.
  7. Susan Combs.
  8. Margaret Combs.
  9. Elizabeth Combs.

*The four Worland spouses were the children of Barnaby Worland.  Mary Theresa’s mother was Theresa Hardy, Barnaby’s first wife; Mary Cecilia and James Guy’s mother was Cecilia Gough, second wife; and Anna Gabriella’s mother was Catherine Dearing, third wife.  Another instance of four siblings in one family marrying four in another!

I cannot say that the three Combs-Gough marriages were of the same family.

Sylvester and Lucinda Combs are listed in the 1850 census of Scott County, in Washington Township, with children Ann E., 12; James E., 8; Joseph L., 5 and Mary J. 2.  By 1860 they are in Monroe County, Missouri.  Ann and James are not with their parents, probably married.  Three additional children have been born – George, Lancaster and Alice M. (she was 3 years old and was born in Missouri).  I think the date of Alice’s birth gives a window between 1854-1857 for the move to Missouri.  Since Sylvester was still in Kentucky at the time of his father’s death could be one reason he was made executor.  James Worland and Sarah Jane live one household away.  They have three children, all born in Missouri – Mary T., 7; Ellen, 3; Lilly, 1.  Were they the first to move, or is there an error in where all the children were born? 

In 1860 Robert Combs and wife Mary Cecilia Worland live in Shelby County, Missouri, with their one-year-old daughter, Arabella, born in Missouri.

In 1850 James Combs and wife Mary Theresa Worland live in Monroe County, Missouri, District 59.  Perhaps they were the first sibling to move, with others following in later years.  The two oldest children were born in Kentucky – Emily, 13; and Arabella, 9.  Five children were born in Missouri – James, 11; Eleanor, 7; Ann M., 6; Ophelia, 4; and Agnes, 2.

In 1850 Mary Combs Gough and second husband George Beaven Gough live in Monroe County, Missouri, District 59.  The first child listed, Robert, 8, born in Missouri, is most likely the son of James R. Gough, her first husband.  One-year-old Henry is probably George’s son.

Buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Shelby County, Missouri, are Sylvester Combs and wife Lucinda; Sarah Jane Combs Worland and husband James Guy Worland; and Robert L. Combs and wife Mary Cecilia.

Buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Monroe County, Missouri, are James Combs and wives Mary Theresa and Anna Gabriella; and Ann Rebecca Combs Gough and husband Benedict Joseph Gough.

I found no marriage record or census records for daughters Margaret, Elizabeth and Susan – even though they are named in their father’s will.  It is likely these daughters moved to Missouri with their brothers and sisters.

As mentioned yesterday, the youngest daughter of James Combs and his second wife, Julia Peters, Mary Theresa Combs remained in Scott County until in her late years when she moved to Fayette County.

From That Troublesome Parish”, St. Francis/St. Pius Church of White Sulphur, Kentucky, Ann Bolton Bevins and Rev. James R. O’Rourke, 1985 -Jeremiah Tarleton

James and Robert combs are listed among the founders of St. Francis Church by Webb.  Goad recalled that Major Sylvester, Robert, and James Combs, sons of Scott County’s James Combs, had emigrated from Scott to Monroe County, Missouri, near Clinton.  Perhaps for a while James and Robert Combs had moved from Scott County, Kentucky, for they do not appear on the 1806 petitioners’ list.  James Combs is listed on the 1810 Scott tax list.

The date of James Combs’ coming to Kentucky is also subject to dispute.  His descendant, the late Fannie Halley Kerr, wrote that he came here in 1792 with the St. Mary’s emigrants, and was at that time twenty years old.  In 1829 he bought Jeremiah Tarleton’s tavern and log home, and that property became his family’s home until 1892-1893 when it was torn down by his daughter Mary Theresa and her husband Edmund Payne Halley to make way for a new home.  Combs’ tavern was apparently an important place to travelers, Ebenezer Hiram Stedman, chronicler of the paper industry, recalled his July 1833 trip to the Forks to look at an old paper mill which he ultimately purchased.  “Leaving Georgetown for Franklin County,” he wrote, “we were in high spirits and when we got to Combs Tavern near the Catholic Church, we all got a drink of good, old Bourbon spirits.”

In The Centenary of Catholicity in Kentucky by Hon. Ben J. Webb, 1884, James and Robert Combs, along with others, are listed as the first of the colonists that arrived in Scott County in 1786-1787.  This is a few years earlier than the 1792 date given above.  Ignatius and John B. Gough were included in this group.  Several of the Combs and Goughs intermarried.   

The following is an ad found in the newspaper concerning Combs Tavern:

The Frankfort Argus, Franklin County, Kentucky

Wednesday, April 22, 1835

Engineer Wanted

At a meeting of the Board of Internal Improvements for Scott and Franklin counties, held at Combs’ Tavern, Scott County, on March 31st, 1835, the undersigned were appointed a committee to receive proposals from Engineers, to undertake the surveying and superintend the constructing of the Turnpike road from Frankfort to Georgetown.  It is contemplated that the surveys will be ordered to be begun by the 20th day of April.  A preference will be given to those who will undertake by the year.  Proposals will be received until the 18th of April, on which day said boards will meet at said Combs’ Tavern, to make the appointment.

Address at our respective residences,

Milus W. Dickey, Georgetown

Philip Swigert, Frankfort

Will of James Combs

Scott County Will Book M, Page 33

In the name of God, amen.  I, James Combs, of the county of Scott and state of Kentucky, being in my last illness and reminded of the uncertainties of human life, yet being of sound mind and disposing inclination, do make this to be my last will and testament.  To wit.

First.  I desire that all my property both real and personal shall remain as it is in the hands or possession of Julia, my present wife, whom I shall appoint by my will as executrix, together with my son, Sylvester, as co-executor, with her.  I desire that they shall first pay all my just and legal debts out of any personal property or in any other manner which they, in their judgement and discretion may think best.

Second.  I desire that after the decease of Julia, my present wife, that all my property, both real and personal, shall be sold and that the proceeds of such sale, whatever it may be, shall be divided among my children, viz., Sylvester, James, Robert, Margaret, Elizabeth, Susan, Sarah, Theresa and the heirs of Ann, in the following manner.  I desire that those of my children herein mentioned who have received any property of me in my life time shall be held bound for the amount or value which I herein put upon said property and upon a final division of my estate, after the decease of Julia, my present wife, the amount received by each shall be deducted from his or her part, according to the division which I shall hereinafter mention.  My daughter Elizabeth has received a Negro girl which I value at three hundred dollars.  My daughter Susan has received a Negro girl which I value at three hundred dollars.  My daughter Ann has received a Negro girl which I value at three hundred dollars.  My daughter Margaret has received four hundred dollars in money.  My son Sylvester has received of me three hundred dollars in money.  I desire an equal division of my property among my children, excepting such previsions as I shall make for my daughter Theresa.

Third.  I desire to give my infant daughter Theresa and do will her my servant girl, Mary, which she shall receive over and above her equal share with my other children.

Fourth.  I will and bequeath to my present wife, Julia, my servant boy, Lewis, which she shall hold and have forever or otherwise dispose of as she may think proper.

Fifth.  I desire it understood that I have given to my wife Julia a certain “Brown Grey” horse which is hers and of which she can make use of or dispose of in any manner she may think proper after my decease.

Sixth.  I desire and do appoint my son, James, a trustee for my daughter Margaret and Susan and their children who shall receive the part of each and shall make such use and investment of their shares as shall in his judgement seem best.

Seventh.  And last I desire this to be my last will and testament which I have this day made and executed in the presence of these witnesses.  In testimony whereof I sign my name and affix my seal this 25th March 1852.

                                                                           James Combs

Attest, Robert Lee, Patrick H. Cooney

Scott County, May Term 1852

The will of James Combs, deceased, was this day produced in court and proven by the oaths of Robert Lee and Patrick H. Cooney, the subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded.

Att. L. B. Dickerson, clerk, by John M. Stevens, deputy clerk

In Memory of Mrs. Matilda Combs, consort of James Combs, born 28 January 1788 and departed this life 8 February 1839, aged 51 years, 11 days. St. Francis Catholic Cemetery, White Sulphur, Scott County, Kentucky.
James Combs, born August 7, 1772, died April 13, 1852, buried beside Matilda.

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