Short, sweet and simple – my children and grandchildren are here for the weekend!
The Old Mud Meeting House in Mercer County is one of only two log meeting houses to survive in Kentucky. The Harrodsburg Historical Society has restored it to its former glory. It is also the first Dutch Reformed Church west of the Alleghenies, built in 1800 from sturdy oak timbers with walls filled with mud mixed with straw and sticks. It is located on Dry Branch Road off US68 south of Harrodsburg.
In the adjoining cemetery, surrounded by a rock wall, lie the bodies of thirty-one Revolutionary War veterans. Most graves are graced with bronze markers, a few with regular gravestones, a few with both. Fifty families came to Mercer County from Pennsylvania in 1791, many originally from New Jersey.
Today I would like to share a portion of the pension papers for Cornelius O. Vanarsdall – there are over one hundred total! In his story Cornelius gives us a vivid picture of what life was like for the soldiers during the war. At the beginning he was a spy. Have you watched the series Turn? Must have been much like that. Later he had many duties including guarding prisoners, driving wagons and trying to keep the British from taking food and stock from the local citizens. For a gentleman of seventy-four years his memory seems very good! I checked dates, places and the men he served under – and everything checked out!
On this 17th day of April 1834, personally appeared before me, Isaac Pearson, a Justice of the Peace, and one of the judges of the Mercer County Court, Cornelius O. Vanarsdall, a resident citizen of Mercer County, Kentucky, aged seventy-four years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June 7th, 1832.
That he entered the service of the United States under the following named officers and served as herein stated:
That is the year 1776 he volunteered in Captain VanCleave’s Company and he was employed by Colonel Vroom and Major Baird, who commanded the New Jersey Militia when stationed in Sumerset County near Flagg’s old tavern, to act as a spy and give them all the intelligence he could obtain in relation to the British lines, their movements in which capacity he acted faithfully until the taking of the Hessians at Trenton, which was fully three months, he was always in the fullest confidence with the Jersey officers, in the service at many times he was in great danger and peril of his life, he thinks it was the day after the battle at Princeton, he knows it was about the first of January he thinks, 1777, he was detailed out of his uncle’s company, to wit, Captain Vancleave, to guard the lines on the Millstone River, and to keep back the cattle and prevent the enemy from plundering and foraging on the people. Major Baird was our principal commander and a great one he was. The enemy’s main army then lay in Brunswick and our army on the Millstone River, in this service he was actually engaged five months and a half, when he was discharged, again in the fall of the same year. Captain Vancleave’s wagon was possessed by Major Maury, he thinks, of the 2nd Jersey Regiment, a driver was wanted, he immediately volunteered for the service and joined General Wagner’s army then station on the Raritan River, in this service he was actively engaged in conveying provision to the 2nd Regiment, hauling and procuring wood for the officers and soldiers
Until the spring of the year following, and God knows during this winter he had like to have freezed several times. The army moved from this encampment in April and he was discharged. This was a tour of ten months which he served faithfully. Again he entered Captain Vancleave’s Company as a volunteer and joined the army under the command of Baron Steuban and General Winans, or some such name, at Springfield for a tour of three months. This was after the battle at this place, he cannot recollect certainly the year, he thinks it was in 1780 during this tour, he was in frequent skirmishes when acting as piquit(?) guard. He honorably discharged after having served his full tour by Captain VanCleave, again he served another tour, as a drafted soldier in Captain Swems Company from Sumerset County and marched to join General Wayne’s army, then at the North River. We marched to a place called Pompton, when we received orders to halt. When we were stationed for some time, we then marched to Morristown when we were delegated to guard the prison then stationed in the Morristown Meeting House. We were stationed here for some time. He knows he served his full tour and was honorably discharged, again he served another tour at Millstone when the courthouse was burnt. This was a tour of one month guarding prisoners at this place. He again joined Captain Lott’s Company for a full tour of three months and marched from Somerset County to the landing on the Raritan River above Brunswick where we were stationed for some time and discharged. He served other tours several days at a time which he thinks unnecessary to mention. He knows he was in actual service upwards of two years. His general officers were Wayne, Steuband, Winans, Col. Vroom, Major Baird, Captain VanCleave, Swim, Lott and some others not recollected. He has long since lost his discharges. He hereby relinquished every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except this present and declared that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.
Cornelius O. Vanarsdall
The deposition of Cornelius A. Vanarsdall, who was a Lieutenant in the Army of the Revolution, aged eighty-five years, taken at the Clerk’s office in Mercer County, Kentucky, this 17th day of April 1834. This deponent being first duly sworn states upon oath that he is well acquainted with Cornelius O. Vanarsdall, who has subscribed and sworn to the foregoing declaration that he knows him to be the identical man he represents himself to be, that he knows that he served faithfully in the War of the Revolution, he lived in the same county and state with him and served in the same army, but not all the tours with him, but he is fully satisfied that he served upwards of two years faithfully and further sayeth not.
Cornelius A. Vanarsdall
Also the deposition of Peter Huff and Lawrence Vanarsdall, both Revolutionary pensioners, taken at the same time and place and for the same purpose, both being duly sworn according to law, do upon oath, state that they are well acquainted with the said Cornelius Vanarsdall, who has subscribed and sworn to the foregoing deposition that they lived at the time of the Revolution in the State of New Jersey and near the county of Somerset and served in the same army with the said Cornelius O. Vanarsdall and know that he served as he states in his declaration. They have long been intimately and well acquainted with the said Vanarsdall and know his to be a man of truth and further sayeth not.
Cornelius O. Vanarsdall further states that owing to his age and feebleness he is unable to attend the County Court for the purpose of swearing to his aforesaid declaration without difficulty and bodily pain and further sayeth not.
Cornelius O. Vanarsdall
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.
Anytime one hears the name ‘Pioneer’ cemetery it should be visited! And the same can be said for the Pioneer Cemetery in Hopkinsville in Christian County. A small park where many of the original citizens of Christian County are buried, it is nicely maintained and contains lots of history in one small area. Today I would like to concentrate on Bartholomew and Martha Wood and their family.
This pioneer graveyard was used from 1812 to 1858. Within this enclosure are buried 185 named persons, and many more unknown, all early settlers of Christian County. The land for this cemetery was donated in 1812 by Bartholomew Wood, the first settler in Hopkinsvile. He also donated land and timber for the first public buildings 1797. He died in 1827 and was buried here.
Bartholomew Wood was the town founder – in 1796, frontiersman, a farmer, a tavern keeper in the town of Hopkinsville. The Christian County Court House was built in 1797 upon land supplied by Bartholomew and with his lumber. The town was originally known as Elizabeth in 1799, but was later changed to Hopkinsville in 1804. Bartholomew Wood died here November 26, 1827.
Martha Ann was the wife of Bartholomew Wood. She was born in Virginia June 27, 1763, married in Jonesborough, North Carolina (now Tennessee) July 20, 1780, and died at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, November 9, 1846, outliving her husband by almost twenty years.
Children of Bartholomew and Martha Ann Wood were Elizabeth Wood Douglass, Mary (Polly) Wood Gist, Sarah (Sally) Wood Cornelius, Temperance (Tempy) Wood Roberts, Patsy Wood Millholland, Bartholomew T. Wood, Carter T. Wood, Curtis Davenport Wood, William J. Wood, Letitia Charlotte Wood and Hardin J. Wood.
from Kentucky – A History of the State, Perrin, Battle and Kniffin, 1887
Richard Creekmur was born February 29, 1822, in Simpson County, Kentucky, where he grew to manhood and has always resided. His father, William M. Creekmur, a native of Norfolk County, Virginia, was a soldier in the War of 1812; was long a member of the Regular Baptist Church, and died in Simpson County in 1844, at the age of seventy-two years. He was a son of Richard Creekmur, of Virginia, who was a soldier in the Revolution. William M. married Martha, daughter of Jonathan and Martha Balance (died 1847, aged sixty-three years), and from their union sprang Philip, Rilen, Dorcas (See), Mary Stewart, Sallie (May), William M., Richard and Tabitha (Stewart).
In May, 1844, Richard married Eliza, daughter of Philip and Mary (Jones) Gibbs, of Simpson County (born in Campbell County, Virginia, March 2, 1817), and to them were born Martha J. (Bush), Lafayette, Mary E. (deceased), William, Sallie B. (deceased), Emily and Alice (deceased). In the beginning of their business career, Mr. and Mrs. Creekmur had an even start in the world, and by industry and perseverance have acquired a competency. They lost five slaves by the late war. Mr. Creekmur is a farmer, having 106 acres of well improved and productive land in a high state of cultivation. He is a member of the Primitive Baptist Church, and in politics a Democrat.
William Creekmur was born in Simpson County, August 1, 1852; married November 9, 1876, Amanda N., daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Capewell) Jennings, of Simpson County (born March 14, 1856), and their union has been favored by the birth of one son, Herschel. William owns forty-eight acres of first-class land. He is a member of the Missionary Baptist Church, and in politics a Democrat.
James Stevens was born in Orange County, Virginia, July 23, 1757, and died September 3, 1832, in Warren County, Kentucky. He was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, enlisted in Orange County, and served in the Second Virginia Regiment. Susannah Haydon, his wife, was born in Virginia, March 25, 1768, and died January 9, 1839, in Warren County. They were married in Lincoln County, Kentucky (Virginia at the time), July 9, 1783.
I will mention that it was not Thomas Harrison that was Governor of Virginia at this time, but Benjamin Harrison. He lived at his plantation home known as Berkeley.
Know all men by these presents that we, James Stevens and Richard Beale, are held and firmly bound unto his Excellency, Thomas Harrison, Esq., Governor of Virginia, in the sum of fifty pounds current money, the payment whereof to be made to the said Governor and his successors. We bind ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators, jointly and severally, firmly by these presents, sealed with our seals and dated this 9th day of July 1783.
The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas there is a marriage shortly intended to be solemnized between the above bound James Stevens and Susannah Haydon, for which a license has issued. Now if there be no lawful cause to obstruct the said intended marriage then the obligation to be void, or else to remain in full force.
James Stevens, Richard Beale
Sealed and delivered in presence of Willis Green
Please to grant Mr. James Stevens his license to marry my daughter, Susannah Haydon, and oblige, sir, your humble servant.
John Haydon, July 9th 1783
Mr. Willis Green
Test. John Conner, Abner Haydon
Calien Crosby and Eliza Mount were married on June 2, 1843, in Oldham County, Kentucky. Calien was the son of John Uriel Crosby, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, and Nancy Ashby Peters. Eliza was the daughter of John Mount and Lydia Jennings. The following license gives much pertinent information.
Oldham County Court Clerk’s Office
To any minister of the Gospel, or other person legally authorized to celebrate the rites of Matrimony –
You are hereby authorized to join together in the Holy bond of Matrimony, according to the usages and customs of your church, Mr. Calien Crosby and Miss Eliza Mount, of this county, daughter of John Mount, deceased, she being of lawful age.
The said Calien Crosby having executed Bond with security, in my office, according to law.
Witness my hand as Clerk of said Court, this 29th day of May 1843.
William D. Mitchell, per Brent Hopkins
In 1850 the couple and their children are residing in Shelby County, and that is where they remain for the rest of their lives. In the 1850 census Calien is 43, a farmer, with parents born in Virginia. Eliza is 32, her parents also born in Virginia. Children Mary Frances, 5; Lydia A., 3; and John Mount, 2, are living in the household. Calien’s parents live with the family, John, 93; and Nancy, 84.
John Uriel Crosby, as mentioned before, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, born in Fauquier County, Virginia, in 1755. From The History of Shelby County Kentucky, by George L. Willis, Sr., it says that John Crosby and wife, Nancy, were among the thirteen charter members of the Antioch Church, located in Shelby County, about three and one-half miles north of Simpsonville. John and Nancy are buried in what was called the Crosby Cemetery in that area. Only two others are buried in this cemetery, son Gnoaeth Crosby, and Andrew Todd.
In the 1860 census there is an additional child, Charles Peters Crosby, who is 5. In 1870 the two daughters have married, leaving John, 21; and Charles, 15; in the household.
In 1880 Charles, 24, remains with his parents. Daughter Lydia A. Payne, 32, is also living with them, along with her children – Eliza, 10; Carrie, 8; Lulie, 6; and Robert C., 3.
In his will, Calien Crosby left wife Eliza 150 acres and any other land remaining after the children receive their shares. This included the home residence and outbuildings. She was also to receive one third of all personal property in addition to 45 head of sheep, 25 head of hogs, 18 head of cattle and 4 head of horses and colts.
Daughter Mary Frances Crosby married Steven Henry McMakin. She was to receive 101 acres of land to be used by the couple during their natural lives, then return to the original Crosby estate.
Daughter Lydia Payne and her children received 100 acres of land.
The heirs of son John Mount Crosby were to receive 64 acres of land. This ‘in addition to what I have previously paid for him on his home tract makes him equal with my other children’. The land will remain in the hands of the executors until the children come of age.
Son Charles Peters Crosby was to receive 115 acres of land, and will be able to purchase the land left to wife Eliza at a private sale after her death.
Son Charles, and son-in-law Steven McMakin, were named executors. The will was written September 5, 1891, two years before he died.
It was previously mentioned that daughter Lydia, and her children, lived in her parents household during 1880. She married Jilson H. Payne October 22, 1868. In the 1910 census she is listed as divorced – perhaps the reason for living with her parents in earlier years. In 1910 she is 63, living on her own income. Daughter Eliza is 39, and is a dressmaker. Son Robert, 32, and brother, Charles Peters Crosby, 54, are both farmers.
Lydia Crosby Payne died September 3, 1923, of tuberculosis. She was 77 years of age. Both parents are listed on the death certificate, as well as place of burial, Grove Hill Cemetery. Son Robert Payne was the informant. On the death certificate it says she was a widow.
The Crosby family is buried in a beautiful plot in Grove Hill Cemetery. The trees are tall and old, their branches surrounding part of the gravestone. Notice the smaller stones in back of the large one – those are for Lydia Crosby Payne, some of her children, and other members of the Crosby family. With such shade they were too difficult to photograph.