This essay will cover the life of Patriot James Witcher, who according to his Revolutionary War pension application was born on September 20, 1750, and was enrolled as a soldier in the Pittsylvania County militia in Virginia.
James Witcher first appeared in court records in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in the year 1770. This record is a tithable list, and James is listed as a resident of that county, and was responsible for one tithable.
We are so fortunate that many of the earliest tithable records for Pittsylvania County have survived. These are extraordinarily important court documents which, when properly interpreted, can help identify an individual by age, family relationship, and residency.
Before we apply these tithable records in our reconstruction of James Witcher’s life, its critical one understands what these pre-American Revolutionary War records were, and who was subject to this tax.
Tithables are best understood as a tax on labor levied against, “All male persons of the age of sixteen years and upwards, and all negroe, mulatto, and Indian women of the same age, except Indians tributary to [the] government and all wives of free negroes, mulattoes, and Indians, except as before excepted,” and “Excepting such only as the county court, for charitable reasons appearing to them, shall think fit to excuse.”
It’s critical to know that the tithe tax was a labor tax levied against the individual, not the household. The one responsible for paying this tax can be generalized by saying that the master of a household was responsible to report and pay the tax for himself, his slaves, indentured servants, overseers, and male children over the age of sixteen and under the age of twenty-one.
Generally speaking, freemen over twenty-one years of age were responsible for paying their own tax, and would therefore be listed on their own, even if they were living in someone else’s household.
Colonial law was unbendingly strict when it came to the tithable tax. Any fudging on the numbers resulted in huge fines, and neighbors were awarded handsomely for turning in any tax cheaters. So, it can be known that under normal circumstances, any taxable individuals were duly reported as the law required.
Applying our knowledge of colonial tax law allows all sorts of useful assumptions to be made, such as the age and relationship of male children, as well as inferring years of birth.
The first tithable records available for Pittsylvania County are those lists gathered for the year 1767. In 1766 Pittsylvania County had been created from Halifax County, so the 1767 tithable record serves as the county’s initial census record. James Witcher was not listed in that year’s tax list; therefore we can assume that James was not a resident of Pittsylvania County as of June of 1767.
However, in the 1767 Pittsylvania County tithable list, William, Daniel, and John Witcher were listed.
As we will later prove, James Witcher was over sixteen years of age when the 1767 Pittsylvania County tithable list was collected. If James did reside in a household within Pittsylvania County, he certainly would’ve been taxed. It is therefore concluded that James Witcher was not living in Pittsylvania County in 1767 and therefore was probably not the son of either Daniel or John Witcher listed in the 1767 Pittsylvania County tithable list.
Most believe this James Witcher (who was born in 1750) was the son of Major William Witcher. As we will later verify, he was not. William did have a son name James Witcher, but this individual was born much later than 1750, and is identified in William’s will as “James Witcher jr.” Futhermore, it’s superfluous to point out, but in 1767 an over sixteen-years-of-age James Witcher was not listed as a tithable in William Witcher’s household, as he would have been had he been William’s son. For more information about William Witcher’s son James Jr., click here.
To put things in perspective, in 1758 William Witcher was serving as a constable in Halifax County, Virginia, and James Witcher would have been eight years old at this time. There’s a possibility that in 1758 James was living in nearby Bedford County, Virginia, with his father, who I speculate could have been John Witcher or an older James Witcher of Bedford County, Virginia. These two men, John Witcher and James Witcher of Bedford County, may well have been the father of any or all of the earliest Witcher men known to have settled in the Pittsylvania County area, those men being Daniel, Ephraim, John, Henry, Edward, and William Witcher. Click here for more information about these two mysterious individuals.
It is obvious that James Witcher had moved to Pittyslvania County, Virginia, as of late May, 1770. We know this because the 1770 Pittsylvania County tithable list enumerates James Witcher as responsible for 1 tithable. This year’s tax record indicates James also presented the court with 5 squirrel scalps, apparently then a requirement for each tithable. This year’s tax record also indicates that James Witcher did not own land in Pittsylvania County. In fact court records imply that, as of the very early 1800s, the only land this particular James Witcher ever purchased in this county was a 160 acre parcel bought in 1781 from Ephraim Witcher, which James then sold back to the same Ephraim four years later, in 1785.
Tax records suggest that James Witcher was in and out of Pittsylvania County between 1770 and 1785. However, he was active enough in county politics to sign the 1776, “Ten-Thousand Name” petition; a petition which attempted to pressure the Church of England to grant liberties to Baptists. James also signed the August, 1777, Oath of Allegiance list, which Justice of the Peace William Witcher had circulated in his militia district, identifying Patriots for the cause of liberty. Most interestingly, this James Witcher is the individual who Captain William Witcher, on June 23rd, 1779, released from duty in the Pittsylvania County militia, after the Battle of Stono Ferry in South Carolina.
Though records indicate the Pittsylvania County court ordered tax lists to be gathered, the tithable lists for years 1771-1772 have apparently been lost.
However, other court records indicate James Witcher was in the county as of late September, 1771.
In 1771 the estate of John Carter sued James Witcher and Gavin Dudly for monies owed to John Carter’s estate. It’s interesting and relevant to point out that this suit was tried before William Witcher, who apparently saw no reason to recuse himself. The fact that Judge William Witcher saw no conflict of interest in hearing James’ case by itself indicates this James Witcher was not the son of William Witcher and forces me to speculate that James wasn’t a brother either. I suspect the Patriot James Witcher was a son of another James Witcher, who in 1763 presented a wolf head for bounty in Bedford County, Virginia. Therefore perhaps Patriot James Witcher was a nephew to William Witcher Sr.
I have transcripted the John Carter versus James Witcher court document which, till now, has been buried in the Library of Virginia’s collection of loose judgment papers for Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
Dudley vs Carter
"Know all men by these presents that we Gavin Dudly and James Witcher… are held and firmly bound unto John Carter of Pittsylvania in the sum of sixty-six pound four shilling current money of Virginia to which payment to be made to John Carter or his heirs executors or admt or assigns we bind ourselves and each of our heirs executors and admt jointly and severaly by these presents witness our hands and seals this 23d day of sept. 1771
The condition of this obligation is that whereas the above bound Gavin Dudly hath this present day before me William Witcher one of maj. of the peace for the county of Pittsylvania prayed an attachment against the estate of the above John Carter for thirty-three pounds, two shillings and hath obtained the same returnables to the next court to be held for the said county of Pittsylvania … therefore the said Gavin Dudly shall pay to the said John Carter all damages …. in case the said Gavin Dudly shall be … in his said suit then this obligation to be void else to remains in force
Sealed and delivered before me William Witcher
[signed] Gayn Dudley James Witcher"
By 1773 James Witcher was apparently not residing in Pittsylvania County. We can reasonably assume this, because the 1773 and 1774 tithable lists do not enumerate him.
It is interesting to note that in 1774, James was suing two men over a debt owed to him. This March court record indicates James Witcher had sued Peyton Smith and John (last name illegible) who, under oath, confessed they owed James the sum of, “twelve pounds of current Virginia money.” James is represented in that court by his “attorney,” which the record indicates is Daniel Witcher, the “assignee of James Witcher,” with Justice William Witcher presiding on the bench. The power of attorney granted by James to Daniel Witcher seems to further validate that James Witcher was absent the county as of March of 1774.
In 1775, the year the War of American Independence began, Pittsylvania County tithable records indicate James Witcher had reestablished his residency in the county.
In 1775, as in the previous and following years, William Witcher was serving as Justice of the Peace, and as such, he was responsible for listing the tithables within his militia district. Therefore the random coming and goings of James Witcher did not escape the watchful eyes of William. As a result in 1775 James Witcher was dutifully listed as owing for 1 tithable, that being he.
However, James Witcher disappears from the tithable records in years 1776 and 1777. We can know that James did return several times to Pittsylvania County during those two years because he is located on two different documents dated October, 1776, and August, 1777.
In October of 1776, James Witcher signed what became known as the Ten-Thousand Name Petition, a petition drive by the Baptist denomination to end the religious persecution its group was facing. Secondly, the Oath of Allegiance was administered by the county’s Justices of the Peace in August of 1777. William Witcher’s list contains the name James Witcher. My conclusions as to why James is found in these two documents and not in those two years tithable lists, is that James must have been out of the county before June of each of these two years. Again, it seems highly unlikely that William Witcher would overlook one of his kin when taking up his tithable lists.
The Pittsylvania County tax records for 1778 denote James Witcher was once again residing within the county, and that he was responsible for 1 tithe, that being he.
James Witcher is also absent the 1779 tithable record. However, we do know something about his whereabouts. According to his 1832 Revolutionary War pension application, James affirmed he had marched with Captain William Witcher in the Battle of Stono Ferry. Shortly after that battle, Captain Witcher gave his handwritten and personally signed release to James Witcher. At the bottom of this essay, I have provided an image of this note, which is currently preserved in the National Archives. It states, “This is to certify that James Witcher a soldier in my company of malstia from Pittsylvania County Virginia under David Mason Col. Command of the Virginia Brigade has served his time out and is discharged given under my hand and command this 23rd day of July 1779, William Witcher Capt.”
The 1780 Pittsylvania County tithable list indicates James Witcher was absent from the county. Then again, according to pension records located at the National Archives, James Witcher had re-enlisted in the summer of 1780 for three months under Captain George Parrish’s Company of Virginia Militia. James was in a battle with the Tories at the Shallow Ford of the Yadkin River in North Carolina, and was discharged in October of 1780. Almost certainly this second enlistment explains his absence from Pittsylvania County’s 1780 tax list. As his pension application states, “This service was in the summer & autumn of the year 1780, as will appear from his discharge accompanying this declaration.”
By May of 1781 James Witcher had relocated back to Pittsylvania County. As the tithable record for that year indicates, he was responsible for 1 tithe. Upon his return from duty in the Virginia militia, James purchased from Ephraim Witcher 160 acres of the 302 acres Ephraim owned on Reddy Creek. This 160 acre purchase was for the exorbitant price of 10,000 pounds of then current money. It was only two years earlier that Ephraim had bought the entire 302 acre tract for 15 pounds of then, “current money of Virginia.” This transaction was during the worst of the inflation suffered during the Revolutionary War. Oddly, just four years later, Ephraim Witcher would repurchase this very piece of property back for the much reduced price of 100 pounds. So was the wild fluctuation of the currency during those years of war!
It is very important to note that the sale of land back to Ephraim Witcher resulted in James Witcher’s wife signing away her dower rights. According to this court record, James Witcher was married to a lady named Mary. I presume this lady to be Mary Colley by birth, and the same lady listed in the Pittsylvania County marriage bonds records, “Witcher, James married Colley, Mary, on November 1, 1782." At the bottom of this essay, I have included an image of the release of dower.
In November 1781, after the Battle of Yorktown, the tide of war had turned significantly against the British. Sensing victory was only a matter of time, the Virginia legislators enacted comprehensive reforms to the state’s tax system, reforms which were to take effect in 1782. One of the changes included moving the tax day from the 10th day of June to the 10th day of March. By that day liable persons were required to present their returns to a county-appointed tax commissioner for their district of residence. Also, the rewritten tax code defined two set of tax lists, personal property and land tax. Persons who were chargeable were understood to be heads of households containing tithables or those owning personal property subject to tax.
The county sheriff was responsible for collecting the tax, and in that effort, designated prominent men of the community to assist in this task. Typically company militia commanders were employed in this duty as they already had in their possession lists of all men aged sixteen years and over.
This explains the purpose of an order given at a court held February 19, 1782, in which William Witcher, Gentleman, was appointed to, “take a list of the Enumerated Articles liable to tax agreeable to an Act of Assembly…in Captain Black’s Company.”
The list I possess for 1782, which was collected by William Witcher, is very different from previous and following year’s tax lists. In fact, the list looks more like a census record than a register of who is taxable. The handwritten header states, “A List of Soles Taken by me Wm Witcher in the District of Captains Tuggles and Daltons Companys in the year 1782.” This record indicates the total number of white and black individuals within a household but does not specify who within those households are taxable. Since the list is not for “Captain Blacks Company,” as specified by the February 19, 1782, Pittsylvania County court order, I assume this record to not be a list of tithables but rather a census of some sort for households within the districts of Captain’s Tuggle and Dalton. In fact, this same sort of census will be repeated in 1785, a year in which I will provide two distinct lists, one a census and the other a list of tithables.
I have taken care to point out these contradictions, because since this particular 1782 record is not a list of tithables, we cannot apply the same logic checks to this record as we have to previous tithable lists. This record does, however, enlighten us to the total number of persons within these households, which is important in its own right. I suspect this 1782 record is a list of households from which the 1782 tithable list was later prepared. To date I have not located Pittsylvania County’s 1782 tithable list.
In the 1782 census record, James Witcher is listed with 3 white people in his household.
Thanks to the wonderful generosity of the Nihoul-Leuty family, Tim Nihoul’s collection of Bible records for James Witcher’s family is revealed within the body of this essay. Among these extraordinary records is one page which contains the lineage of this James Witcher and his wife Mary. The images of these records are included at the bottom of this essay. It is very significant that the Bible record of the lineage of James and Mary corresponds with the 1782 Pittsylvania County census record.
According to the 1782 Pittsylvania County census, James and Mary Witcher had three people living in their household. The Bible record correlates this census by identifying only one child had been born as of spring,1782, that one being a girl named Delilah, who was born in 1775. I therefore believe the three individuals living in James and Mary’s household in 1782 was James, Mary, and a girl named Delilah. It should be noted that James and Mary were not married until November of 1782, therefore, as Delilah was born in 1775, one could reasonably speculate that Delilah was not a child of this union. Its should also be noted that, according to the family Bible record, another child was born in July of 1782, four months before the marriage bond was obtained. A variety of considerations arise, but they are left up to you to elaborate.
The tax records for years 1783 and 1784 have not been located. However a list of taxable property was again gathered by William Witcher in 1785. In this tax record, unlike the previous years tithable lists, horses and cattle are counted. Also age thresholds are clearly written in the record. Whites “over 21,” Negros “over 16,” and Negros “under 16” were to be identified and presumably taxed. By this time, the taxation of whites under the age of twenty-one had been halted, at least for a time.
The first 1785 list to be reviewed appears to be a census list of total white people as well as structures on their property. Slaves are not included in this list, so one may assume all small children and spouses are included in the total number of “whites” counted per household. For the sake of clarity, I will refer to this list as the 1785 Census of Pittsylvania County.
In this 1785 census list, James Witcher has 5 white people living in his household. No doubt those “white” people included himself, his wife Mary, and three children found in the James Witcher family Bible record. Those children are, Delilah, born 1775, an indiscernible name, born July, 1782, and Rebecca Witcher, born May 5, the year being indiscernible. As you will see in the images of these Bible records, damage has rendered sections of the record unreadable, but fortunately enough information is available from those records to allow a fair comparison against these early census records.
As I have previously pointed out, this James Witcher is not the son of William Witcher Sr., but is the Patriot James Witcher, whose pension papers indicate was born on September 20, 1750. This would mean that this James Witcher was thirty-five years of age at the taking of this census.
The 1785 Census of Pittsylvania County also indicates that James had “1” cabin on his property and no slaves. It was in September of this year when James sold his land back to his presumed brother, Ephraim Witcher, 160 acres, sold for 100 pounds (remember he had bought this land four years earlier for 10,000 pounds). I highly suspect that James’ “cabin” was located on this 160 acre property, which he then sold later in the year. During the colonial era, the term “cabin” did not necessarily denote a log home, but usually meant to indicate a substandard dwelling (we would know it as a shack), as compared to a more substantially built home, which itself may or may not itself have been built out of logs.
The personal property tax list for 1785 listed James Witcher as responsible for one tithable, and he owned 1 horse and 5 cattle
In 1786 James Witcher reported 1 tithable, a white over the age of 21. This tithable was no doubt James Witcher. His livestock count was 1 horse, while his cattle had increased from the previous years count of five cattle to “8” cattle in his possession in 1786.
Eventually James Witcher migrated with his family from Virginia to reside near his close relative, Daniel Witcher, who had previously relocated from Pittsylvania and Montgomery County, Virginia, to Smith County, Tennessee.
From a book called, “History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois,” which was published in 1876 by John Carroll Power, we have first hand knowledge of when James and Mary Witcher migrated to Smith County, Tennessee. This invaluable register documents a multitude of Sangamon County’s earliest pioneers. Sangamon County is in the state of Illinois. Among those original earliest settlers were at least two of James and Mary’s children. Those children were two daughters, Polly and Sarah Witcher.
Mrs. Power assisted her husband’s multi-year research effort by writing, “nearly two thousand letters of inquiry to the descendents of early settlers.” This resulted in replies from families associated with two daughters of James and Mary Witcher, they being Polly and Sarah Witcher.
In this 1876 publication, Polly states that she was born in Cocke County, Tennessee, on July 21, 1794. We must not ignore the fact that her given date of birth exactly matches the date written in the James Witcher family Bible for a certain Polly Witcher, the daughter of James and Mary Witcher. In my mind, the identity of this particular Polly Witcher is absolute. She was the daughter of James and Mary Witcher. Also, from this publication, we know that James and Mary Witcher left Pittsylvania County, Virginia, by at least 1794, nine years after he sold his 160 acres of land to Ephraim Witcher.
The book further states that after being born in Cocke County, Tennessee, “Her [Polly’s] parents moved to Smith County when she was but fifteen years of age.” This testimony indicates that James Witcher had moved to Smith County, Tennessee, by 1809. According to this publication it was in Smith County, Tennessee, where Polly Witcher married Mededith Cooper, on June 16, 1812.
Until this 1876 publication was brought to my attention, I strongly suspected James Witcher had migrated to Smith County by 1812. I based this suspicion on one of James’ Revolutionary War pension records, which was dated August 30, 1832. In this record a resident of Smith County, a certain Melton Young, testified before the Smith County, Justice of the Peace, that he (Melton Young) and James Witcher had for, “the last twenty years lived as neighbors.”
Melton Young also indicated that he had personally known James Witcher when he lived in Pittsylvania County, and first met him in 1779, when he then understood that James had just returned from a military campaign to the south.
It’s interesting to note that this Melton Young is apparently the same individual who bought land in Pittsylvania County from Daniel and Suzanna Witcher in 1798. This 1798 legal transaction was flawed because the deed did not include a release of dower from Daniel’s wife, Suzanna. This misstep resulted in interstate court actions, which eventually were concluded ten years later, in December of 1808, when Susanna did travel from Smith County, Tennessee, to present herself to sign away her dower rights to the 185 acres in question.
By 1832 an act of Congress broadened who could receive a pension for their service in the Revolutionary War. It allowed needy veterans to apply for and receive annual payments, providing they could validate their service through witnesses and other methods of verification.
As James Witcher was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and met the qualifications to receive a pension, he therefore made his application before the Smith County court in 1832. I have transcribed and provide below several of the verification records from those court proceedings dated August of 1832.
“State of Tennessee
Be it know that on this 30th day of Augt 1832. Personally appeared before me Daniel Young a Justice of peace for the county & State aforesaid. James Witcher, aged 81 years old on 20th day of September last who being first duly sworn according to law doth on his oath makes the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provisions of the act of congress performed on the 7th of June 1832.
That he entered the service of the united states in 1779 for six months under capt William Witcher (Robert Daltons being luint.) That he at that time lived in Pittsylvania county, state of Virginia. That he was marched to salisbury in North Carolina and was then attached to a regiment commanded by Col Mason. Thence to Camden south Carolina. thence to stono & was in the battle fought there. and was finally discharged at Camden, as will appear from the discharge accompanying this declaration. That at the said battle of stono, there were many regular troops, but cannot now recollect the names of any of the [commanding] officers.
And furthermore he served another term of three months, (he thinks was the term) under capt Pas…. in a regt [regiment] commanded by Col. Clayden he then lived in the said county of Pittsylvania & state of Virginia, was marched to the state of N Carolina, and was in the battle of the shallow ford of the yadkin, with the tories. the said col Cloyde commanded on this occasion. This service was in the summer & autumn of the year 1780. as will appear from his discharge accompanying this declaration.
That he performed other services, but his discharges for which, are lost. And his recollection is too imperfect to rely on, in advancing those claims. That the enclosed is all the documentary evidence, in his possession by whom he could prove the forgoing service, that in each case he was of the militia. and that he herby relinquishes every claim whatsoever to a pension or annuity except this payment, and that his name is on no pension roll whatsoever, this being the first application he has ever made sworn to be submitted this day and date in hand. James X [his mark] Witcher
I Samuel Dewhitt. Clergyman, residing in the said county of smith & state of Tennessee, & in the neighborhood of the above named James Witcher, certify that I am well acquainted with the said James Witcher. who has subscribed, & sworn to the above declaration. that I believe him to be 81 years of age. that he is reported & believed, in the neighborhood where he resides, to have been a soldier of the revolution and that I concur in that opinion. sworn to & subscribed Samuel Dewhitt.
The above declaration, subscribed by James Witcher. and that by Samuel Dewhitt. was signed, & sworn to before me, this said 30th of Augt 1832 –"
Daniel Young justice peace
"And I said Daniel Young justice of peace as aforesaid, after the examination of the above named James Witcher, as above. do hereby declare it is my opinion that he the said James Witcher, was a revolutionary soldier, & served as he states. and I further certify that Samuel Dewhitt who has signed the preceding certificate is a clergyman resident in the said county of smith, & state of Tennessee. that he is a credible person, & that his statement is entitled to credit.
and I do further certify that the above named James Witcher is extremely infirmed, and not able, without greatly endangering his little remaining health if not his life, to get to the courthouse. it being 25 miles distant.
Daniel Young justice peace”
“State of Tennessee
Be in known. that on this 30th day of Augt 1832. Personally appeared, before me Daniel Young, a justice of peace in & for the county aforesigned Milton young. aged 68 years. who being first duly sworn in due form of law doth on his oath make the following declaration, in favor of James Witcher who is now making application for a pension pursuant to the provisions of the act of congress of the 7th June 1832. That his first acquaintances with the said Witcher was in the year 1779. That at that time he understood that he had just returned, from a campaign in the army of the revolution to the south, that he had served a term of six months, that he had been in the battle of stono. That he has been acquainted with said Witcher from then until now. the last twenty years, they have lived neighbors – that their acquaintance has been continuous & cordial, that he has often heard the said James speak of his revolutionary service, & always in the same way. that he was in the battle of shallow ford of the yadkin. That he has generally been reported & believed to be a soldier of the revolution, & that he …. believes, the said Witcher performed the services, set forth in his declaration accompanying this sworn to & subscribed before me this day and date as above
Milton Young witness Daniel Young justice of peace”
The James Witcher family Bible record indicates that James Witcher died September 4, 1834, less than two years after his original application for his veteran pension payments.
A monument marks the supposed place of Patriot James Witcher’s grave. This headstone indicates that James died after 1832 and was married to Mary Colley. The marker also indicates James was a private in the Revolutionary War. The headstone is in Macon County, Tennessee, in Witcher Cemetery. Macon County was created January 18, 1842, from Smith and Sumner Counties.
James’ wife Mary Witcher had preceded him in death, having died July 29, 1822. This record is plainly written in the Bible record of James Witcher’s family.
It appears from the James Witcher family Bible that James and Mary Witcher had at least ten children, at least eight of them girls, one name is indiscernible, and one son named James Witcher, who was born July 8, 1796.
Some of the names and birth dates of the children of James and Mary are barely legible, but the names and years of birth which are discernable are listed as follows:
Delilah Witcher; July of 1775
T????? Witcher; July of 1782
Rebecca Witcher; May of ????
Patsy Witcher; ??? of 17??
Mary Ann Witcher; October of 1787
Sabrina Witcher; May of 1790
Sarah Witcher; June of 1792
Polly Witcher; July of 1794
James Witcher; July of 1796
Lydia Witcher; November of 1798
This family record clearly states that the Bible was passed on by Mary Witcher to her granddaughter, Melinda Witcher, the first-born child of James and Elizabeth (White) Witcher.
Melinda would have been less than four years old when her grandmother Mary Witcher gave her this family heirloom. After Mary bequeathed the family Bible, she died just after granddaughter, Melinda’s fourth birthday. I expect that Melinda’s mother (Elizabeth) took care of the Bible until Melinda was of responsible age.
After recording the genealogy of James and Mary Witcher’s family, the Bible record resumes with the lineage of James Witcher Jr., who was married to Elizabeth White on June 5, 1817. James Witcher Jr. was born July 8, 1796, and his wife Elizabeth White was born July 14, 1801
James and Elizabeth had many children. Those children are apparently listed on two separate pages in the Bible, with the first-born being listed under James and Elizabeth on one page, while the second page records the remainder of the youngest children. Unfortunately, the second page is seriously water damaged, and those names are not identifiable from the digital images.
It appears that up to fifteen children were born to James Witcher Jr. and Elizabeth (White) Witcher, there names being:
Melinda Witcher; Jul 18, 1818
William Witcher; May 15, 1820
Mary Ann Witcher; Mar 8, ????
Allen G. Witcher; May 5, 1824
Harriet Witcher; Oct 22, 1825
James Franklin Witcher; May 28, 1827
Wilson H. Witcher; Apr 24, 1829
Claborne H. Witcher; Feb 16, 1830
The second page may contain the names:
Amanda F. Witcher (twin to Marthy E.); Dec 27, 1832
Marthy E. (twin to Amanda F.) Dec 27, 1832
Silas W. Witcher; May 5, 1835
Newton L. Witcher; Oct 15, 1837
Hugh L. Witcher; Nov 19, 1839
Lucinda H. Witcher ; Jan 29, 1842
Sarah Jane Witcher; Apr 21, 1845
The Bible record states that James Witcher Jr. died August 7, 1852, after which date, it appears than no other entries were made.
From the book, “History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois,” the author penned sentiments, which reflect my perspectives, and so I feel they are worth repeating.
“There are family histories presented here that will be prized for many generations, and yet but few of them would ever have been written up by the families themselves. It is surprising that there are not more families who write up their own histories. Family pride is commendable, and, viewed properly, should be a powerful stimulant to right living, but it can have no reliable foundation without written history…. Look at your family Bibles and see if you can learn from them where any event connected with your ancestors took place. You must remember, however, that this all requires labor. If you wish to test it, go to work and prepare a sketch of a numerous family such as you find here.” John Carroll Power
Below I have provided images of invaluable court records, including images of the James Witcher family Bible, generously provided by the Nihoul-Leuty family. Please respect their rights.
I would love to hear from any descendents of Patriot James Witcher’s family.
From a another’s transcription of the book, “History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois,’ an excerpt is provided which gives the first-hand recollections of the migration of Polly Witcher from Smith County, Tennessee, to Sangamon County, Illinois, as well as this book’s genealogy of the children of Mededith Cooper and Polly Witcher.
“In the spring of 1817 Mr. Cooper went to St. Clair county, Ill., raised a crop, and returning, brought his family in the fall of that year. The moving was done on two horses, as there were no wagon roads; and if there had been, they were unable to own a wagon. As a specimen of real life at that time, I give the statement of Mrs. Cooper [Polly Witcher], now quite aged, that she rode one horse, carried a child in her arms, and with a feather bed lashed to the saddle behind, wended her way, while her husband carried the other child, with all the household goods and farm implements he could put on the other horse. Three of their children were born in St. Clair county. The fame of the rich soil of the San-ga-ma country was known in St. Clair county, and Mr. and Mrs. Cooper resolved to emigrate thither. This time they put all their worldly goods and five children in an ox-cart, and arrived in the autumn of 1823 in what is now called Fancy Creek township, near the present town of Sherman, where they had seven children.
Of all their children--
MARTHA, born Oct. 26, 1814, in Tennessee, married in Sangamon county to William Branson. See his name.
JAMES W., born Sept. 16, 1816, in Tennessee, was married in Sangamon county to Zarilda Taylor. They had four children. MELISSA married Charles Wood. They have one child, and live near Edinburg, Ill.
PRISCILLA married James Wright. They have four children, and live near Riverton. JAS. M. married Ellen McGinnis. They have two children, and live three miles southeast of Williamsville. AMBROSE died Jan. 27, 1874, in Williams township. James W. Cooper went to Texas, hoping to improve his health, and died there in 1853. His widow died the next year in Sangamon county.
MINERVA, born Sept. 21, 1818, in St. Clair county, Ill., was married in Sangamon county to Jesse Yocom. See his name.
MARGARET J., born Sept. 1, 1820, in St. Clair county, was married in Sangamon county to George W. Yocom. See his name. Three of their children, NETTIE, CLARA and MINNIE, died in the winter of 1876.
MARY, born July 28, 1822, in St. Clair county, was married in Sangamon county, Ill., Jan. 30, 1851, to John Wilson, who was born Feb. 1, 1821, in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. They have three children, ANN, JAMES M. and THOMAS H., and reside one and a half miles east of Riverton.
NANCY, born May 7, 1825, in Sangamon county, married John Keagle. They have seven children. CHARLOTTE married Nathan Hussy. See his name. SIDNEY married Samuel Smith. She died, leaving one child, LETITIA, who married Silas Skinner and died. JOSEPH, SUSAN, HARLAN P. and HARRISA B., reside with their parents in Logan county, Ill.
REBECCA, born Aug. 11, 1827, in Sangamon county, married James Mills. She died Oct., 1871, in Sangamon county. James Mills died in the spring of 1874, in Moultrie county. Of their children: MARY F. married Samuel Harsh, and resides near Sullivan. LOUISA and EMMA reside near Sullivan, Moultrie county, Ill.
AMBROSE, born Sept. 13, 1829, in Sangamon county, married Dorothy Keagle. They have five children, MARY J., JOHN M., AUGUSTA, GEORGE E. L. and JAMES W., and reside near Brownsville, Mo.
DAVID D., born August 10, 1831, in Sangamon county, married Juliet Withrow. They have seven children, SUSIE, JAMES A., DOUGLAS, LEE, AUGUSTA and EUGENE, and reside one and a half miles east of Sherman.
ROBERT, born July 8, 1834, in Sangamon county, was married Feb. 9, 1869, to Lavina Garner, who was born in Washington county, Indiana. They live near Sherman, Sangamon county, Ill.
MEREDITH, Jun., born Sept. 11, 1836, in Sangamon county, was married in March, 1873, to Mrs. Emma Jones, whose maiden name was Watson. They have one child, ANNA LEONORA, and reside in east St. Louis, Ill.
LOUISA, born Feb. 3, 1839, in Sangamon county, was married Dec. 26, 1855, to Isaac M. Raynolds, who was born in Pike county, Ohio. They have five children, CHARLES M., JAMES A., POLLY E., EDWIN S. and BERTHA M., and reside one and a half miles east of Sherman. The place was for many years a trading post for the Indians, and from about 1832 to 1856 was the family homestead of the Coopers.
Some of the younger members of the [Cooper] family remember a visit to their house by Abraham Lincoln on business. A large back log had just been put on. It was cut from the fork of a tree, and one limb projected quite a distance up the chimney. The children were greatly amused to witness Mr. Lincoln's interest in trying to determine how they brought it through the door and put it in the fireplace.
Meredith Cooper, Sen., died Nov. 1, 1870, in Williams township, and his widow resides with their daughter, Mrs. Raynolds.”
Stephanie Lyons-Olsen has graciously submitted the lineage of the children of Sarah Witcher (daughter of James and Mary Witcher) and William R. Robinson. This information includes records received from books such as, “History of the early settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois,” and other records and research, as noted below.
“ROBINSON, WM., R., was born about 1776, in England. When he was ten or twelve years old, his parents came to America, and settled in Virginia. When he attained to manhood he went to Blount county, Tenn., and was there married, in 1808, to Sarah Witcher. They had five children in Tennessee, and moved to Barren county, Ky., where six children were born, and then moved to Sangamon county, arriving in what is now Williams township, in 1836.”
Note that we have since found that Wm R. Robinson was not born in England. He was born in Virginia where his parents were born as well.
There is a marriage record in Blount County, TN dated September 20th, 1808 for William R. Robinson and Sally Witcher.
We find a listing of their children from the Warren County Historical Record (Historical and biographical record of Monmouth and Warren county, Illinois Portrait and Biographical Album - Warren County, Illinois Chicago, Chapman Brothers, 1886):
"The grandparents of Mrs. Tinkham were, on the father's side, McKenna Robinson and Elizabeth Wamsley, also natives of Virginia. On the mother's side, her ancestors were James Witcher and Mary Kelly, who were likewise Virginians. Of the union of William R. Robinson and Sarah Witcher, 12 children were the offspring, viz.: Mary, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Sarah, Ann, Mary Ann, Lydia, Jane, Minerva, William, Kittie and Christopher T."
Sarah (Witcher) Robinson died in Logan county in 1845 and is buried there. William R. died on May 5, 1858 while living with their daughter Ann Tinkham in Warren County. His probate records contain a list of all the immediate heirs and their spouses. Below is some of what we know about their children.
Mary Ann married ? Macintosh. We know from the probate record that she was living in Mount Pulaski, Logan, IL in 1858.
Minerva was born abt 1822 in Kentucky. She married G. C. Wright and the couple lived in Logan County IL. She died sometime after 1870.
Jane H. was born Dec 14, 1822 in Mount Sterling, Montgomery, Kentucky. She married Abel Yocom Oct 1, 1840 in Sangamon County, IL where the couple resided the rest of their lives. Jane died Jun 20, 1899 and is buried in Sherman, IL in Wolf Creek Cemetery. One of their sons, James W Yocom, fought for the Union in the Civil War. Many have surmised that his middle name was Witcher.
Elizabeth was born Jun 7, 1814 in Smith County, TN. She married Thomas Anderson Branch on May 27, 1830 in Monroe County, KY. She died Jan 16, 1888 in Seymour, Champaign, Illinois. The couple lived in Piatt County, IL most of their marriage.
Sarah was born abt 1815 in Tennessee. She married William D Burns about 1840 and the family resided in Logan, Piatt, Champaign and Coles County over the years. She died on July 23, 1888 and is buried in Arcola, IL.
Ann was born on Dec 13, 1815 in Smith County, TN. She married Joseph Tinkham on Dec 15, 1841 in Warren County, IL where they resided their entire marriage. Ann died on 15 Sep 1897.
Rebecca was born about 1825 (in KY or TN) and married Green B. Scott. We know from the probate record that they were living in Mount Pulaski, Logan, IL in 1858.
Kitty was born May 28, 1829 in Kentucky. She married Jefferson Davis also from Kentucky about 1855. They lived in Yamhill County, Oregon. Kitty died there on Dec 6, 1902.
Lydia was born abt 1820 in Kentucky. She married David F. Sherry from Connecticut. She died on Sep 16, 1856 and is buried in Mount Pulaski, Logan, IL.
Mary was married to John Marsoll and living in Van Buren, Crawford County, Arkansas, at the time of her father's death, according to the probate record.
Christopher T. Robinson was born abt 1831 in Kentucky. He married Ellen A. (maiden name unknown). Christopher was a 1st Sergeant in the 106th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. Mustered in on 17 Sep 1862 in Lincoln, IL, he served for 3 years.
William Robinson. He is not mentioned in the probate record so we know he had died prior to 1858. A wife or heirs are not listed there either.
An image of probate papers for the William R. Robinson estate is provided within the body of images sequenced below.
Some browsers require you to scroll down to see the images.... Below are images of many of the records from which I quote.
For more Witcher family information, visit our website at www.witchergeny.com or ask to be friended on our facebook page, witcher genealogy, or email me at wwawitcher @ windstream. net
Born September 20, 1750
Died September 4, 1834
and wife Mary Colley, who died July 29, 1822
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A Witcher Family Genealogy