Crombie Castle in Banffshire

By Richard Gwynallen

Brae of Crombie


Below the Brae of Crombie, nestled among fields, hills, and patches of woodland, Crombie Castle (to the right of the leaning fencepost in the foreground) awaits the advancing haar or sea-fret blanketing the distant hills, the sea-fog brought to shore from 10 miles away by sea breezes and easterly winds to creep inland.

Old maps show this approach as a track.  From here the modest summits of Black Law, Cranna Hill, Gallow Hill, and the Crannabog Hills loom northeast of Crombie Castle.

In this part of Marnoch parish the ground rolls and rises, most of the summits capped Moss of Crombie mapwith woodlands.

The soil is commonly humid and mossy, the extensive peat moss known as the Moss of Crombie west of Crombie Castle being the most humid.

To the south the ground levels as it nears the River Deveron and is rich and fertile. To the north, the ground becomes more peaty.



Crombie - Moss of Crombie - 1

Moss of Crombie

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A German Family Line – Who Knew? Thinking about ethnic identity

Catherine Houpe
1800 – 1888
Relationship to Fawn: 4th great-grandmother

By Richard Gwynallen

Most of us whose families have been Americans for several generations have had families of different ethnic or national origin marrying together.  Even more so the longer one’s family has been here.  Yet, we may not be aware of some of these national origins.

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A Civil War Story – A more human aftermath

By Richard Gwynallen

1834 (?) – 1921
Relationship to Fawn: 3rd cousin, 6x removed

This year Fawn and I went to Gettysburg for Father’s Day.  We had family in both armies,  which was a legacy of Irish Presbyterian families from Ulster settling in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, then in the next generation having most of the family migrate down the Great Wagon Road through Virginia and into North Carolina.  Some stayed in Pennsylvania, while the bulk of the family moved south.  We spent the day locating where their regiments fought.

We saw a marker at the site of Pickett’s Charge that told the story of a Southern officer who was wounded that day.  He was shot through the cheek.  Years later when he attended a reunion at the site he met the former-Union soldier who shot him.  They shook hands and exchanged words that indicated they could hold no animosity as they were now part of the same country again.

That reminded me of this clipping I had come across online about one of our Mooneyham relatives who had fought in the Civil War. It was posted by Judy Lynn in 2012 on the Find A Grave memorial page for Daniel Mooneyham. I am grateful to her for making it public.  I do not at this time know what paper it came from or who wrote it.  The writer states that Daniel Mooneyham was still alive at the time of the article and was 93 years of age. If his year of birth of 1834 is correct that would place the article in 1927.  That, however, is after the year I have for his death, which is 1921.  The article also says he was middle-aged when he entered the war.  That would indicate that the 1834 date is wrong.  Perhaps more research will set this matter to rights, but I would guess that the article was around 1915 – 1920.

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The Tyree Family

By Richard Gwynallen

Sarah Ann Tyree
1795 – 1853
Relationship to Fawn: 5th great-grandmother

William Bowcock
1782 – ?
Relationship to Fawn: 5th great-grandfather

In An 18th Century Tavernkeeper we introduced the Bowcock family.  That essay focused on Henry Bowcock and Mary Tyler.   As the same essay mentioned, the Bowcock line (now spelled Bocock) eventually intermarried with the Richardsons.

Henry and Mary’s grandson William married Sarah Ann Tyree in 1825.  Having discussed a bit about the Bowcock line, this essay is about the Tyree family.  The name has many spelling variations: Tyree, Tyrie, Tyre, and others.

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The Purviance-Wasson Family in the Revolutionary War

By Richard Gwynallen

Sarah Jane Wasson
1746 – 1800
Relationship to Fawn: 7th great aunt

James Purviance
1733 – 1806
Relationship to Fawn: 7th great uncle by marriage

In the essay, Archibald Wasson – Cordwainer and Farmer, I introduced the Wasson family, who married into our Mordah/Murdah (now Murdock) line.  One of the daughters of Archibald Wasson and Elizabeth Woods, Sarah Jane Wasson, married James Purviance. The Purviance and Wasson families would intermarry on several occasions over two generations.

Both of Sarah’s parents were born in Ireland, but Sarah was born after Archibald and Elizabeth had emigrated to the American colonies, then moved the family from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.

This essay is less about Sarah and James’ life together, and more on the role James and other Purviance relatives played in the Revolutionary War.  I ran across some material collected by other researchers and thought it made a nice addition to the stories of our ancestors.  The Wasson line is the actual bloodline of our immediate family.  We are descended from one of Sarah’s sisters, Agness “Nancy” Wasson, so we are not descended by blood from any Purviance lines that I know of yet.  However, the story reflects on the experience of that branch of the Wassons during the Revolutionary War, and with the intermarriage of Wassons and Purviances there is a joint experience with our bloodline.  In particular, the reader will note:

  • A reference to Sarah Jane Wasson in the records of one of her sons that offers a rare intimate insight into a moment of one of our ancestors lives.
  • A look at what Sarah was confronted with as her home became a military hospital and her husband went to war.
  • That the Purviance family interacted closely with other families that are part of our bloodline, such as Wassons and Mordahs.
  • The movement of that branch of the Wasson family west and north from North Carolina.

A Little Background on the Purviance Family

The Purviance family immigrated to the American colonies in the early 1740s from Castle Finn (Caisleán na Finne, Irish, meaning “castle of the (river) Finn”) in County Donegal, Ireland, where they had lived for at least two generations. Castle Finn is located in East Donegal near the County Tyrone border.

As to the origins of the Purviance family, most researchers maintain that they were French Huguenots from the town of Royan in the Charente-Maritime department, which was in the former Poitou-Charentes administrative region of France, arriving in Ireland prior to 1702.

Royan is a seaside town on the western coast of France. After the Edict of Nantes established tolerance for Protestants in France in April 1598, Royan developed as a fortified Protestant town.  After the Edict was revoked by Louis XIV in October 1685 and Protestantism declared illegal, most of the population of Royan emigrated.  We do not absolutely know whether this Purviance family left at this time or earlier.

This would be in keeping with the time frame of the Purviance family.

James’ father, John David Purviance, was born in Castle Finn, County Donegal, in 1708.  Using the French theory, James’s grandfather was possibly Jean Purviance, born about 1680 in Royan.  John David’s older brother Samuel is believed to have been born in Ireland in 1701.  If Jean was the grandfather of James and was born in Royan about 1680, his emigration from Royan after 1685 would make sense given the circumstances of the time. However, most Royan residents seem to have emigrated to the Dutch Republic. It’s a question as to why Jean, and possibly his family, would have ended up in Ireland.

James’s mother was Margaret McKnight, also of County Donegal.  The McKnights were originally from Scotland, but it is unclear to me how long they had been in Ireland, why they had left Scotland, or where they originated in Scotland.  The most frequent contenders for a place of origin seem to be the area of Loch Awe in Argyll or Kirkcudbright in southwest Scotland.

After emigrating from Ireland, the family of John David Purviance and Margaret McKnight first settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Apparently Margaret’s McKnight family emigrated with them.  The Purviance and McKnight families then moved to Rowan (which became Iredell) County, North Carolina.  There is general agreement that James and and some of the Purviance family moved south in in the 1760s, following the same pattern as many Ulster Scots in Pennsylvania by migrating down the Great Wagon Road south.  They may have settled on the south fork of the Yadkin River.

However, as early as 1758, a John Purviance appears on a petition to be excused from tax delinquency in Rowan County (which becomes Irdell County).  This could be James’ brother or his father.  It indicates that when James and others moved south in the 1760s they might have been joining family who migrated earlier.

The Purviance name, as well as McKnight, appear on a petition to organize the Fourth Creek Presbyterian Congregation in Iredell County in 1764.  Other names on that same petition that will be familiar to readers of this site include Mordah, Murdock, Wasson, Milligan, and Sloan.  This could be the same John or James himself.

Further, James Purviance and John Purviance (most likely James’ brother) appear among the first Elders for what became the Concord Presbyterian Church in 1775.  A McKnight is also on that list.

This indicates that the full Purviance family was in Iredell County by 1764, and that they had a relationship with our Mordah/Murdock family as well as the Wassons.

The family first appears in the Rowan County record of deeds when George and Mary McDonald sell “200 acres on the south side of Third Creek adjacent to the land of William Stephenson” to John Purviance for £35.  It was deeded 26 August 1762 and proved at the October court in 1765. (Abstracts of Deeds of Rowan County, NC 1753-1785, Pg. 79: Vol. 6:214/5 Oct. 1765)

This was most likely James’ brother John because it clearly was that brother who in 1767 sold that same acreage to “Mathew Oliphant, husbandman”, for £58. This transaction references John’s wife Jane, who would have been Mary Jane Wasson, the sister of Sarah Jane Wasson.  (Abstracts of Deeds of Rowan County, NC 1753-1785, Pg. 91: Vol. 6:503/23 Dec. 1767).

Eventually parts of the family would end up in what is now Carrabus County, North Carolina, but what was then part of Mecklenburg County.  The family in Carrabus became associated with the Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church, so called because the first minister, Rev. John Thompson, sent by the Presbytery of Philadelphia to preach to scattered Presbyterians in the colony of North Carolina would hold his services under the shade of a Poplar tree.  Ultimately, the Purviance family would remove to Tennessee, then on to Kentucky where James died.

James and Sarah were still in North Carolina in 1784 when State Grant #861 was made to James Purviance for 480 acres on the north fork of Fourth Creek. (Abstracts of Deeds of Rowan County, NC 1753-1785, Pg. 197: 10:237/4 Nov. 1784)

It is not clear why they left North Carolina, but they did not remain long in Tennessee as the Cherokees made it clear they did not want further white settlement in the area.  A John Purviance was killed in one attack.  The move to Tennessee most likely occurred in autumn of 1791.  James’ brother John was killed in 1792 or 1793.  The Sumner County, Tennessee Court Minutes [Wells, pg. 33-34] records that in the 1793 April Term Richard King returned the “inventory/sales of estate of John Purvoince”.

Researchers indicate that some Purviance family returned to Sumner County, Tennessee to a part that would become Wilson County.  James’ brother John died in Wilson County, Tennessee in 1823.  The rest of the family would push on further north into Ohio.  While we don’t know why they left North Carolina, one indication might be that the family, particularly James’ brother David, would become abolitionists, which was one reason they left Kentucky to move further north.

James’ will was dated 6 May 1800 and was proved in Bourbon County, Kentucky on 5 April 1819. Sarah Wasson preceded him in death in 1800, also in Bourbon County, Kentucky.  I currently have no information on the site of their graves.

Service in the Revolutionary War

Several members of the Purviance family were participant in the Revolutionary War. Here I concentrate on James.  As the others’ stories become available I may add them.

James Purviance

In his later years, James and Sarah’s son John wrote reminisces about his family. His comments on his family during the Revolutionary War were included in the Memorial Record of Northeastern Indiana (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1896, pp. 455-7) as well as in chapter 4 of The Purviance Family by Stuart Hoyle Purviance.  Excerpts appear on the genealogical website, GENi, as well as other places.

John was born 23 April 1770, so he was but a boy of nine – eleven years of age during the incidents he is describing.

James Purviance was a Captain in the North Carolina Line from 1779 through at least 1781. (Colonial Records of North Carolina, Vol. 10, p. 320, and North Carolina Roster pp. 45, 213).  A number of battles occurred within miles of his home, and the Purviance house was at times converted into a battlefield hospital.

James’s son John describes hearing the sounds of battle:

“We heard the cannonading at my father’s, it being heard from seven or eight miles farther north. My brothers, my sisters and myself were sitting on the porch during the cannonading, but my mother could not remain in the house. She walked across the yard, back and forth, with her arms folded across her breast, with a solemn countenance. She spoke not a word more than to let her children know that their father was probably in the battle.”

When I first read this I could see my 6th great aunt, pacing, hearing the roar of battle just miles away, worried, thinking through what she had to do, the only adult between it and her children huddled on the porch.  She would be about 33 at the time, with at least five children ranging in age from one to about 10 years of age.  It made her come to life for me.  Perhaps being outside made her feel closer to the experience of her husband.  Perhaps it was part of her personality to not be able to remain still. Perhaps it was more practical. Perhaps she wanted to be the first to see whatever came into view in order to know as soon as possible whether her home needed protection.

The houses of these settlers were very similar.  An historic house  of that same period remains in the general area and allows us an idea of what the Wasson house may have looked like. That house is pictured below and can be visited on the Ramsour’s Mill battlefield site.

Ramsour's Mill Christian Reinhardt Cabin

John later speaks of another battle or skirmish occurring two miles south of his father’s house. This was his immediate experience, though later it was proven that his father was not in the first battle mentioned, but was engaged at some other point.

As a side note, John Purviance speaks of the ‘making of songs’ to praise the soldiers and mock those who deserted. He said, “ . . . there were songsters and songmakers in that day, and in a short time the songs were made and sung by many with an air to the satisfaction of the good soldiers and mortification of those who retreated.”  In fact, though now in English, such songs were the continuation of a long Irish and Scottish Gaelic tradition where the bards circulated songs to encourage clans to battle and ensure that ridicule lay in store for those who did not fight.

In addition to James, several members of the Purviance family served in the colonial army.   John Purviance speaks of having two uncles and several cousins under the command of General Lock.  One of the cousins was killed and an uncle was ‘shot in four places,’ at last being ‘brought to the ground by a ball which struck him in the hip.’ This uncle was most likely James’ brother John who other sources show as having been wounded and taken to the Purviance house for medical care. John may have been wounded at the battle of Ramsour’s Mill, about twenty miles from the home of James Purviance.  Whichever battle it was in which John was wounded and taken to the Purviance house, the house was used as a hospital and he was taken there as many wounded were.  This was not unusual for the time.  In those days all the homes near the battlefields were temporarily turned into hospitals. Sarah Jane Wasson would have organized her children to tear up linens and clothes to serve as bandages and help care for the wounded.  The house would have been a scene of frantic activity, and Sarah and the children old enough would have been in the midst of it, rushed, tired, and having to keep their wits about them.

James’ son John Purviance describes these events: “Many of the wounded were carried on biers, one on each bier, and took boarding; in the neighborhood. My uncle and others were brought to my father’s home. I remember it as though it was yesterday. The sufferings of my worthy and respected uncle were great and cannot be described. Surgical operations could not extract the ball in the hip. About forty years later my aunt, who was dressing the wound, felt the probe cut something hard and by probing the ball was extracted. I heard of it, went to visit them and saw the ball.”

Knowing that the Purviance house was about 20 miles from the site of the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill gives us geography within which to places James Purviance and Sarah Wasson.   Since the Ramsour battlefield is in Lincoln County and the Purviance-Wasson family lived in Iredell County at this time the 20 mile swath of possible landscape would have to be east of the battle.

Ramsour Mill Painting

Battle of Ramsour’s Mill painting depicting the rally by Tory forces in their encampment before they drove the Patriot cavalry back down the hill.  The painting hangs in the lobby of the James W. Warren Citizen Center of the Lincoln County, North Carolina government.

Today what remains of the battlefield is nestled between three schools. A strategic plan to preserve the battlefield does exist.

A .3 mile trail runs behind the battlefield, with the trail head at 229-255 Jeb Seagle Drive, Lincolnton, North Carolina.  The map below pinpoints the site of the battle and displays a 20 mile swath about the battle site.


Below is a diagram of the position of forces at the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill.

Battle of Ramsour's Mill battle layout

Below is the Ramsour’s Mill Battlefield site today.

Ramsour's Mill Battle site

Below is a map of the vicinity on the battlefield today.

Ramsour's Mill Battle Site Vicinty Map 1

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Much of the original battlefield has been lost to development, but the historic cabin on the site was that of the Reinhardt family.

Ramsour's Mill Christian Reinhardt Cabin

Christian Reinhardt, Sr., his wife Elizabeth, her mother, Barbara Schindler Warlick, and her brothers all took an active part in the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill. The Battle was fought on the Reinhardt land, 1/2 mile north of Lincolnton, North Carolina, and their home was turned into a hospital.

Ramsour’s Mill was on a creek about three hundred yards west of the Reinhardt house.  About 1,300 Tories assembled in camp about three hundred yards back of the Reinhardt home and 300 yards from the mill, and Colonel Locke with about 400 patriots decided to attack the Tories at sunrise on June 20th.  The battle was ferocious.  Discipline was lacking because most were farmers, not trained soldiers. At times the fighting was close combat and the parties were so close together that they beat each other with the butts of their guns.

Mrs. Reinhardt and her two children had taken shelter in the cane field during the battle.  Returning home, she found the dead and wounded strewn on the ground around her house.  Mrs. Reinhardt and Mrs. Warlick tore up their fine linens to make bandages for the wounded soldiers.

Neighbors, relatives and friends fought against each other and as the smoke would clear they would recognize each other.  All were in civilian clothes and it was hard to distinguish the Whigs or Patriots from the Tories, save by a piece of white paper in the hats of the former and a twig in the hats of the latter.

It is believed that James Purviance, with other relatives, originally served under General Rutherford as Captain, commanding a company, then later was assigned to General Gates and General Sumter. Ultimately his company was assigned to Colonel Locke.  His son John relates:

“Being entitled to so much weight in the baggage wagon, father provided a suitable chest for his clothing and papers. The baggage wagon, belonging to one of the neighbors, passed by and took in the chest, which was taken to Gates’ army in the South. For some reason father, with a part of his company, was sent to join Sumter, leaving part of his company and baggage with Gates, and an engagement was expected. I think the reason why father was sent to join Sumter was to escort him to Gates. What I will say about Sumter’s defeat I received from father orally. Sumter knew that the British were in pursuit of him, but nevertheless the army came to a halt on the side of the hill, near a large watercourse; by some it was called a half-mile wide; I think it was the Catawba river. Arms were stacked and sentinels stationed. Sumter’s tent was struck while he was in it writing. The army was mostly scattered down by a spring by the riverside. Father and Colonel John Isaacs, in walking up from the spring, stopped by the way and were talking about the bad generalship and critical situation they were in when the sentinel’s guns reported and the dragoons came on in a rush. Colonel Isaacs was taken prisoner, but father slipped down a bank out of view and kept up the river. At some distance he met with William McKinney, one of his company, and they took the river. Sometimes they had to swim, sometimes they could wade, the bullets striking the water before and behind them until they were out of reach. McKinney was a stout young man, good in water, and kept foremost; but after they got out of reach of the bullets, poor McKinney’s fortitude failed. He proposed to turn back and surrender and wished counsel. Father told him that his counsel would be known by his conduct, and he was determined not to surrender while he could help it. Poor McKinney turned back, surrendered and afterward took the South fever and died in the hospital. Father fortunately had a knife; he ripped open his coat-sleeves and by that means got his coat off and let it go to the waves; next was his hat, which was large: he let it go also; next came his sword, with which he was loath to part, but to save himself he let it go too. He made to land, and looking around could see the British dragoons ranging about on the same side of the river. He took to the woods and rounded the field, bending his course from the river till finally he saw some men who had also made their escape across the river. He recognized Philip Drumm, a young Dutchman, one of his own company. They got together and traveled home together, not less than 100 miles. Father had saved his handkerchief and had it tied on his head. Young Drumm took it off and insisted upon putting his own hat in its place.

“In passing through the Indian land about seventy miles from home two horses were presented to father with the request that he take them home and deliver them to friends of the owner for safe-keeping, who lived in father’s neighborhood. Each had a horse. They traveled together to Morrison’s mill, three miles from home; the roads parted; the hat father was wearing being given to young Drumm, its owner, Archibald Bradley, the miller, presented father with a decent hat to wear home. When he came in view he was not at first recognized by his family, no coat, a strange hat and no sword and a little dirty. When he embraced the family his countenance was pensive. Clean clothes put on, the word ran through the neighborhood and the neighbors gathered in. He had but little to say that afternoon and was much cast down over the outlook, with two armies defeated and the British marching where they pleased. But the next morning he put on his cheerful countenance again, took courage and started for the field.”


Bondurant Places in the Languedoc Region of France

By Richard Gwynallen

In The Bondurant Migration to America, I introduced the Bondurant immigrant ancestor from France, Jean Pierre Bondurant.  Exterior pictures of his house in the village of Génolhac appeared in The Bondurant Migration to America and The Bondurant Ancestral House in Génolhac..  Thanks to the Bondurant Family Association, below are images of earlier Bondurant properties in France.

First is a photo of a pre-World War II postcard showing in the foreground the Bondurant home near the existing Cougassac mill site, below the viaduct, or Chamborigaud bridge.


This was the Bondurant home and inn on top of Belle Poile in the Gard Department, and part of the historic Languedoc region, of south-central France. It was a three-storey stone house.  It was known as the Malihieres property because the Bondurants came from the village of Malihieres.  The property was also known as Cougoussac.  The setting is the Cévennes, a mountain range in south-central France that includes this part in the Gard Department.


Red area shows the Gard Department.

The Bondurants left the property in the 1500s for a house in the town of Génolhac but continued to operate it as an inn. This was part of the properties sold by Jean Pierre Bondurant to finance his immigration to Virginia in 1700.

A viaduct is a bridge, usually constructed of several spans, connecting roads and crossing a valley, river, or other obstacle.   This viaduct is not ancient.  It was completed in 1867 near the village of Chamborigaud.  It is unique apparently because the curve of the Viaduct of Chamborigaud faces upstream.

This house was accidentally bombed in World War II by the allies while they were trying tochambourigaud-viaduc destroy the bridge in an effort to slow down German troops on the viaduct.

This picture shows the viaduct as it exists today.



In this picture a gentleman stands at all that remains of the Bondurant house, the basement with trees and brush growing out of it.  The house built to replace it is in the background.


With the Malihieres property was a mill.  In addition to being innkeepers, the Bondurants ran mills.  Below is the ruins of the mill at Cougoussac.


Jehan, or Jean, Bondurant, the first known owner of this property, was known as les


Le Luech River

Maliheyres because he came from Malihieres, a small village near Belle Poile. Malihieres stood on a steep mountain slope above the settlement of Donarel and the le Luech River.


Le Luech River

Stone terraces were constructed along the slope and filled with soil hauled up from the valley to make small gardens. Residents grazed sheep and goats, and gathered chestnuts from trees in the area for food.  There was little arable land to grow extensive crops. Jehan owned the Bondurant property at Malihieres.

When Jehan died, he left the property to his son, also named Jehan.  Jehan II ran the inn, which was inherited in 1472 after Jehan II’s death by his son, also named Jehan. It was Jehan III’s grandson, Anthonie or Antoine Bondurant, who inherited the property, but after marrying Gilette Amat of the nearby settlement of Donarel in 1558 and moved the family ten miles away to Génolhac, where he died in 1604.  He and Gillette were innkeepers in Génolhac as well as running the Malihieres property.


Church at Vielvic where Amat family worshiped.

In the fullness of time, the immigrant ancestor, Jean Pierre Bondurant, would inherit


Génolhac nestled in the Cévennes.

these properties, become an innkeeper and apothecary in Génolhac, and then, under increasing religious pressure at home as a Huguenot, sell off properties to become part of the Huguenot migration to the American Colonies.

A quick note on the spelling of names:  Jehan is the Oc equivalent of Jean. Oc (or Occitan) was the primary language of the Languedoc area and the Cévennes in the Middle Ages. When France conquered and annexed the region after the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229), Occitan was replaced by French and Latin in the official and ecclesiastical records, but continued to be spoken as a common language. Therefore, Jehan and Jean both appear at different times, as do Anthonie and Antoine.

High School Days in 1940s Raleigh

By Richard Gwynallen

Worth Bagley Allen, Jr.
1928 – 1968
Relationship to Fawn:  Grandfather

There are many places in the landscape of a family, markers along the road, crucibles of memories, places where just being there helps you think about the life of your family.

Recently my brother, Jerry, pulled out of his collection of family things our father’s high school year book from Hugh Morson High School in Raleigh, North Carolina for our Dad’s graduating year of 1945.


The pages are filled with inscriptions from friends as everyone’s year book of every year is filled.   Our father looks young and innocent.  In fact he was pretty young. He’s only 16 in the picture below.  He had gone to summer school to earn enough credits to graduate out of the 11th grade. When he turned 17 that July after graduation my grandmother signed permission for him to join the Army.  So, in the last weeks of World War II my father became a soldier, did his hitch, then transferred into the reserves and went to college at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, returning to the regular Army after college graduation.


My grandmother’s inscription with her wish for her son was I thought the most beautiful thing about the book.


Hugh Morson was a high school from 1925 – 1955, then a junior high school from 1955 – 1965.


This photo was taken from the 1945 yearbook

In the early 1920s the Raleigh school system undertook the design of four modern school buildings.   These were the days of segregation, so there was a white and a black high school built, the white school being Hugh Morson High School near Moore Square, and Washington High School for African-Americans on the southern extension of Fayetteville Street.  In addition, Wiley Elementary School on Saint Mary’s Street, and Thompson Elementary School on Hargett Street were designed and built.

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There were less than 50,000 Raleigh residents in 1945.  It was the size of Medford, Oregon when our daughter grew up there.  Walking distance from the school was the Raleigh City Market on Moore Square.


1940s photo

As were theatres like the Capitol at 124 West Martin Street, and the Ambassador at 115 Fayetteville Street


Finch’s opened in 1945 as a drive-in on Peace Street, where customers pulled up in their cars and gave waitresses their orders.

Only 5,000 households countrywide in 1945 had televisions.  My father would have listened to the news and sports on radios like these.

It was an era of hair slicking products like Brylcreem and Wild Root


1944 poster in UK railway station


1945 poster

the debut of National Velvet


Lunch counters and malt shops


Fayetteville Street – 1940s


Lunch counter at F. W. Woolworth in the 1940s

As is evident from the pictures in this essay, it was also an era of segregation, and it would have been apparent everywhere, part of the landscape of my father’s youth.  A high school for whites and a high school for blacks. Separate places to eat.  When my father went to movies at the Ambassador pictured above he went in one entrance, while black movie-goers entered via a side entrance.

Referring to the growth of Raleigh from 1900 – 1945, writes: “The city limits billowed to the north and west to encompass the white, middle-class suburbs developing on land once considered remote. First the streetcar system and later automobile ownership made such locations attractive in the twentieth century. Deed restrictions kept these new subdivisions segregated. Established African American neighborhoods southeast of the center of the city continued to grow as well, and early twentieth-century suburbs for African Americans were established nearby.”

But change was in the air. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was founded during the war in 1942, and pressure for desegregation increased as WW II entered its final months.

Growing up in the segregated South can have different effects on people.  I don’t know what turned my father in his own direction, but we were brought up with the very core understanding that everyone was equal.   I recall a conversation between my mother and grandmother after my father died in which my grandmother acknowledged that even in his younger years he looked at everyone the same and helped everyone when they needed it. She mentioned that once while he was in high school he spent many days helping a black family on their farm because the father had been injured. She said he was the only white man in the field and he never seemed to even think about it.

Labor unrest was also on the rise as this graduating class stepped out of school. In 1945 ford-strike-1945and 1946 4.5 million workers from every industry participated in strikes fighting against wages that were lowering.  In 1945 alone, 10,500 film crew workers had struck in March, and 43,000 oil workers went out in October, followed by 225,000 auto workers in November.

I don’t believe my father ever held a job where he would have had to strike, but once when we were traveling cross country we pulled up late a night to our hotel only to find the staff on a picket line.  Despite how tired we all were he pulled away and they searched for another place with vacancies.  I was told that you never cross a picket line; that it’s like saying it’s okay to mistreat people and take their jobs.  It stayed with me.  I never have crossed a picket line.  It’s like littering. It’s instinctual. I just can’t do it.

My father walked out of high school into the military as a way of paying for his college education at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The graduating class of 1945 was stepping out into a very different world than when they started their high school years. Women had joined the work force in droves, forever changing the role of women in economic life.  And, of course, thousands had lost loved ones as war defined the entire span of their high school lives.

Shortly before they graduated the Nazi regime fell. Then in their first summer after graduating the world’s first nuclear bomb was dropped on a human population.  Power most had never conceived of had been released. Then Japan surrendered and the war that had defined their high school years was over.

But the halls all these students walked day in and day out are now long gone. Thehugh-morson-hs-5 demolition of a school is a sad thing to me. Even in this more mobile world, so many of our memories of our youth and of the neighborhood are bound up in the school itself. How much more so when generations of a family grew up in the same town?

Once a school in which one spent years is gone its absence is palpable.


A wonderful website called Good Night Raleigh has two articles well worth reading covering demolition of the school:  The Death of a High School and ‘In Days of Auld Lang Syne’ — Chronicling the Last Days of Hugh Morson High School.  I am grateful to Good Night Raleigh for many of the photos I have used in this essay.


Alumni erected a memorial for the school in 1978.  The brick marker pictured above contains gargoyles that once guarded the entrance to Hugh Morson High School.


The gargoyles are visible above the third floor windows in the center section

The gargoyles now face the site approximately 275 yards southeast between Person, Morgan, Bloodworth, and Hargett Streets, the streets that bordered Hugh Morson High School.


More on our Scottish Allan Family

By Richard Gwynallen

Our direct immigrant Allan ancestor was James Allan, who arrived in the American Colonies with his wife, Anne, somewhere between 1762 and 1770. We do not know their port of entry, but they appear on the Yadkin River in North Carolina in 1770.  I found little information about his parents at the time, but I have written a few essays on a couple of his aunts who remained in Scotland.

I have found a smattering of information about others related to James, a collection that includes both ancestors of James as well as folks descended from his family who did not emigrate. I decided to write this essay, focusing on where and how his ancestors lived.

I expect that this essay will be a work in progress.  As more information is found that adds to our understanding of our family, but that I don’t think fits an essay unto itself, I will add it to this essay.  Much of the information on our family lines is reasonably documented, but not all.  Where I have made family connections that are not well documented I have drawn them from what seems like reasonable agreement among others researching the same lines.  As documentation surfaces I will amend that qualifying language.  And if errors are pointed out to me or as I discover errors I will amend the essay appropriately.

On to our story

James father was George Allan, born on 2 January 1724 on Redhyth farm in Fordyce Parish, Banffshire, Scotland.  I am not going to take up the story of George Allan, and his apparent first wife, Margaret MacDonald, in this essay.  That story is looking like an interesting tale on its own.  George and Margaret were my 5th great-grandparents.

George’s father was James Alexander Allan, born 22 November 1699 on Hallyards farm in Fordyce Parish, Banffshire, Scotland.  James Alexander married Isabel Ruddach from Grange, Banffshire. They were my 6th great-grandparents.

James Alexander’s father was William Allan. The facts about William are a little elusive. He may have been born about 1670, but apparently not baptized until 3 March 1678 in Fordyce Parish, Banffshire, Scotland.  William married Janet Guthrie of Cullen, Banffshire.  There is a William Allan and Janet Guthrie married on 26 May 1688 in Cullen.  Is it ours?  Some say ours were married later.  In any case, William and Janet appear to be my 7th great-grandparents.

Wiliam’s father was Gilbert Allan, born about 1650 in Fordyce, Banffshire.  He married Anna Garden of Longforgan, Perth, Scotland on 7 November 1669 in Cullen. Longforgan is  a village and parish in the Carse of Gowrie, along the Firth of Tay, in Perth and Kinross They were my 8th great-grandparents.

The area in which these families were living in northeast Scotland in the late 17th and 18th centuries is shown on the map below.  The main towns referenced in this essay can be seen: Fordyce, Cullen, Grange, and Banff, plus Boyndie, another town of Allan interest in other essays.


Banffshire in the 17th & early 18th centuries

Banffshire remained largely Roman Catholic after the Reformation of the 16th century. Thus, it was a target for Protestant, Anglicizing, and Cromwellian forces.

A central and defining aspect of the 17th century in Scotland was what has been known as the British Civil Wars or the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and their aftermath. These “Wars” were comprised of an intertwined series of conflicts from 1639 – 1651, covering England, Scotland, and Ireland.  These conflicts culminated in the execution of Charles I by the English Parliament in 1649 and the defeat of Irish rebellions that same year by Cromwell’s New Model Army.  By 1651 the English Parliament under Oliver Cromwell was firmly in control.  Another set of conflicts continued throughout the 1650s that ultimately resulted in the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II as a constitutional monarch.

At the heart of the tensions were (1) the degree to which the monarch’s authority was constrained by parliament; most particularly around the right to raise taxes and armed forces, (2) the nature of a state religion, and (3) the national sovereignty of Ireland and Scotland.

These were the military and political conflicts that determined the future of Great Britain and Ireland as a constitutional monarchy with political power centered in London, ultimately culminating in the Union of the Scottish and English crowns in 1707.

The Earl of Finlater and Seafield

The largest landowners in the area discussed in this article were the Abercrombies, Innes, and the cadet branch of the Ogilvies centered around the Earl of Finlater and Seafield.  These two titles rested upon the same person.  Obviously we are not related to them, but since it appears that our ancestors were living on Ogilvie properties I thought I’d explain these titles.

The Ogilvies of Banffshire were a cadet branch of the chief of Ogilvie, the Earl of Airlie.  John Ogilvie was the ancestor of the Earls of Airlie, the branch recognized as chiefs of the clan.  From John’s brother, Walter, descend the Earls of Finlater.  Walter’s descendant was created Earl of Finlater in the Peerage of Scotland in 1638.  As these Scottish titles descended to first of line and not first male of line, his daughter inherited the title Countess of Finlater.  Her grandson, James, was given the additional title of Earl of Seafield in 1701.  James’ support for the Act of Union in 1707 split his immediate family as well as Ogilvies on his estates.  The title of Earl of Finlater is now dormant, but the title Earl of Seafield is extant.

Back to our story

We do not know if William Allan and Gilbert Allan were in the town of Fordyce or somewhere in Fordyce Parish.  However, William was on Hallyards farm by 1699 when James Alexander was born there, and William seems to have remained there.  James Alexander left Hallyards farm by January 1724 when the first child of James and Isabel, George Allan, was born at Redythe farm.  They had five children born at Redythe between 1724 and 1731: George, William, Isabel, Anne, and James.  James was born in 1731.  By Margaret’s birth in 1733 the family was at Bogtown farm in Fordyce Parish.  After Margaret came David, Cecilia, and Alexander.  Alexander was born at Bogtown in 1740.

Each of these properties appear to have been Ogilvie properties.  We do not have an Ordinance Survey for the time period in question, but we do have ones for the mid-19th century that identify each as farms owned by the Earl of Seafield, who was an Ogilvie.

The Ordinance Survey (OS) of Banffshire for 1867 – 1869 describes Hallyards as: “A dwelling house with a court of offices, and a farm attached, the property of the Earl of Seafield.”


Redythe was later known as Redhaven. The OS for Banffshire 1867 – 1869 describes Redhaven:  “A dwelling house with a court of farm offices, a garden, and an extensive arable farm.”  It notes that it is the Earl of Seafield’s property, and that the mansion house of Redhythe stood a little to the south of the farmstead that existed then, but that there were no remains of the mansion house.


The OS for Banffshire 1867 – 1869 describes Bogtown as: “A large farmhouse in good repair, near the Turnpike Road, having garden outhouses . . . attached.  The property of the Earl of Seafield.”  It further references “A small Croft near the farm of Bogtown, with gardens and a few acres of arable land.”


Other sources indicate an Ogilvie ownership of Redhythe and Bogtown going back into the 17th century.  The article, A Seventeeth-Century Pew-back from Moray,  which I found on  the Archaeology Data Service, references a Walter Ogilvie of Redhthye in 1636.


From “A Seventeenth-Century Pew-back from Moray”

Other documents indicate that an Ogilvie that was a cadet branch of the Earl of Finlater funded a trust from Bogtown receipts to support the education of boys in the area from about 1680.

Collections for a History of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff, Volume 4, edited by Joseph Robertson, indicates that an Ogilvie had possessed Hallyards prior to the publication of the book in 1843.


I have not found a Hallyards reference further back, but it seems that at time of these ancestors residence the properties in question were most likely owned by the Earl of Finlater or cadet branches of that family.

The below map shows the position of all three farms – Hallyards, Redytyhe/Redhaven, and Bogtown – and their geographic relationship to Fordyce and the larger town of Portsoy.


We do not have any documents proving that any of these Allans held tenancies at these farms, but they were tenant farmers, crofters, artisans, or farm laborers.  Though the information is scanty, I’d speculate that William was a crofter or tenant farmer.

Below shows a restored example of a common 18th century croft house from northeast Scotland.  This one is located on the Culloden battlefield park.  It was most likely originally constructed on the Culloden estate in the early 18th century.  It now sites in isolation, but the area would have been more populated in an earlier day with the estate divided into small crofts.  We do not know for a fact if any of our Allans lived in exactly such a house, but it represents the kind of house a good percentage of the population lived in.

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James Alexander Allan went out on his own but stayed in the area and on Ogilvie properties.  James’ reasonably short stay at Redythe might indicate that he was an artisan moving from one Ogilvie property to another.  Laborers would probably have moved around more.  It seems like tenant farmers or crofters would have remained more years.

We cannot document Gilbert’s parents so the line cannot be proven before 1650, even by reference to the genealogies of other researchers.  There are Allans scattered around the area in the early 17th and 16th centuries who may well be related but it’s truly speculative at this point..  There are a few more than I will mention here for which there are some indications of a relationship, but the ones I have selected have appeared in enough genealogies connected to our Allan line that my confidence level in their relationship to our family line is fairly high.  Plus, the little bit of information we have about them tell stories about life of the time.

The Town Piper

Gilbert’s apparent brother James is listed as the Banff Town Piper in 1680 in The Waits Website: The Official Website of The International Guild of Town Pipers.  James was a 9th great uncle to me.

The Annals of Banff ( pp 159 – 160) records a payment to James Allan:  “Paid to James Allan, piper, for his goeing morneing and ewining throw the toun with his pyp frae Hallomes, 1680, to Hallomes, 1681, the sowme of sex pundis.”


Just to avoid any confusion, I’ll note that there is another James Allan who was the well known piper to the Duke of Northumberland.  Our James Allan would have been performing more humble services.

In the article, Town Pipers: A European Tradition by Brian E. McCandless,the town piper is described as “. . . itinerant busy-body who could deliver news and praise, song and dance – all at the drop of a hat . . .”  The town piper was somewhat of a civil servant whose function varied according to need.  We do not know what kind of bagpipe James Allan played.  It could have been the Great Highland Pipe (pìob mhòr), but many of these pipers in Scotland and northern England used the bellows-pipes which allowed them to issue announcements while playing.  It could be that he was experienced with various types of pipes and used the one most suited to the present duty.

A good picture of an 18th century bellows bagpipe appears in Town Pipers: A European Tradition.

The picture below is of a pìob mhòr that contains a set of 18th century drones and the most precious relic of Highland piping, the chanter of Iain MacAoidh, Am Pìobaire Dall (1656–1754). The originals are in the museum of the National Piping Centre, Glasgow.


The Wright

The Annals of Banff, edited by William Cramond, lists a James Allan who served as Deacon of the Wrights in Banff in 1707.  James appears to be a son of Gilbert Allan, born before 1680 in Fordyce.  James was an 8th great uncle to me.

The title of Deacon meant the represented the association of Wrights.  That he served as Deacon of the Wrights for at least one year indicates James was a skilled workman involved in construction, most likely a carpenter, and of some status among his peers.  A wright might be a shipwright, wheelwright, well wright, or other such title identifying his specific line of work.  We do not yet know what that would be for James.

The organized trades were the Hammermen, Wrights, Shoemakers, Weavers, Tailors, and Coopers.

James was residing and working in a town of ancient standing.  Banff received its first charter in 1163 under Malcolm IV.  King Robert II granted Banff the status of a Royal Burgh in 1372.  Despite having no harbor, Banff had been a busy center of trade since the late 12th century received its first charter in 1163 under Malcolm IV.  It held the status of a “free hanse.”  As a hanse, the burghers held the right of free trade within the burgh, and the privilege of associating in defence of their prerogatives.  By the 15th century Banff had become one of three principal towns in Scotland exporting salmon to the continent.

The origins of the name “Banff” are a little uncertain. Different Scottish Gaelic words have been considered: banbh meaning “piglet”; buinne, a stream; or a contraction of Bean-naomh meaning “holy woman.”  The burgh’s coat of arms which features the Virgin Mary).  Banff is Banb in the Book of Deer and Banbh in modern Gaelic.

However, the road to these associations represented a struggle between social classes.  The town councils were run by merchants, and were closely allied with the aristocracy.  The craftsmen were organizing to create a power base not governed by the merchants and aristocracy.

Legislative enactments of the Scottish Parliament in Perth in March 1424 instituted the office of Deacon, selected among the craftsmen, with the intention of the position ensuring the quality and honesty of the craftsmen. But in September 1426 Parliament restricted the power of the Deacons and created a position of Warden to regulate the wages of masons and wrights.  The Warden was appointed by town councils as opposed to the craft associations. In July 1427 another legislative act prohibited the office of Deacon altogether. The masons and wrights continued to hold their conventions,and in 1493 came into conflict with  James IV. The conventions of the masons and wrights ordained that “they should have fee as well for the holiday as for the work-day”, and that “where any begins a man’s work an other shall not finish it”.

Parliament responded by passing an Act in which the “makers and users” of the statutes in question were ordered to be punished as “oppressors of the king’s lieges”. The Act also restricted the powers of Deacons to a testing of the quality of the work done by their respective crafts.

Parliament acted again against the organized trades in 1540 by authorising the employment of “un-freemen” equally with burgesses.

In 1556, Parliament again acted rendering illegal any conventions of craftsmen other than those approved of by town councils. Queen Mary, on attaining her majority, repealed the Acts suppressing the Deacons  as injurious to the commonweal, and granted letters under the Great Seal restoring the office of Deacon and confirming the trades in the privilege of self- government, the observance of the customs that were peculiar to each, and the unrestricted exercise of all other rights which they had enjoyed under former monarchs.

James VI gave the magistrates of the town the right to select the Deacon, but only from a list of three provided by the craftsmen, and essentially confirmed the rights provided by Queen Mary.

The six incorporated trades formed themselves into a convenery to protect their privileges.  The rise of the crafts were recognized in 1657 when articles of condescendence were entered into between the town council of the Elgin burghs and the crafts, recognising the latter’s existence as independent corporations, and making regulations for the management of their respective bodies.

In 1700 the trades advanced a stage further. They claimed, and then in 1705 were accorded, the right to nominate their own deacons. And in 1706 the trades obtained the right to be represented at the town council board by three of their members—the         deacon-convener and two others selected by the town council from the deacons of the six incorporated trades.

In consequence, a considerable amount of political influence ended up in the hands of the crafts. For instance, the election of a member of Parliament for the Elgin Burghs—which then consisted of Elgin, Cullen, Banff, Inverurie, and Kintore—rested in the respective town councils of these burghs, each of whom chose a delegate. A majority of the votes of those delegates carried the election. The admission of the trades representatives placed in their hands the fifth part of the representation of the burgh. (Source: Electric Scotland, A HIstory of Moray & Nairn)

Returning to Banff where our James Allan served as Deacon of the Wrights in 1707, the Cullen, Deskford, & Portknockie Heritage Group summarized the crafts in Banff.  Between 1680 and 1840 the six incorporated trades had a formal status in running Banff. The Deacons representing each craft took turns as the convenor of trades. Certain privileges were associated with these trades.  As Deacon, James Allan would have had his own pews in church and a small pension. The merchants also formed a guild and considered themselves superior to the trades. However, no merchant was allowed to practise a trade, and thus were forced to deal with the trades.  Artisans as a class ended up with more rights than they previously possessed, but it did not end conflicts between the democratic craftsmen and the more conservative town council.  The conflicts arising in this new state of affairs is interesting but a story not needed for this essay.

Our James Allan served as Deacon of the Wrights in Banff during the earliest period in which the tradesmen had secured full rights.  Therefore, he would have been present in the years in which the tradesmen were struggling for those rights. He lived through an era of distinct change in the class structure of his world.

The Ritchie and Keith Families

By Richard Gwynallen

1822 – 1894
Relationship to Fawn: 4th great-grandmother

Nancy Ritchie married James Murdock before 1841 in North Carolina, probably in Iredell County.  The assumption about their marriage is based on the fact that their first child, William, was born in 1841.

I left this family line alone for quite awhile because we have a death certificate that shows her last name as Rickie. However, I couldn’t find a Rickie family in that area to correspond to her, and she appears in various Murdock genealogies as Ritchie.  Also, there are families named Richey and Ritchie in Rowan and Iredell counties in North Carolina in the same time period of our interest.  Some are of Scottish extraction, some of German.

All that seemed certain is my 3rd great-grandfather, James Murdock married Nancy Ritchie or Rickie, and they had a son from whom we are descended, John, who married Nancy Angeline Boyd.  The Murdocks and Boyds were Irish and Scottish, but that was not enough of an indicator as to whether Nancy Ritchie was from a Scottish or German family.

As an amateur looking into family history I didn’t have the time to try and dig any deeper so I decided to let it sit.

A small break occurred when a Ritchie also doing genealogical work sent me a note saying that he, too, had a relationship to the Murdocks.  I understand that in a family bible belonging to them (which I have not seen, but have no reason to disbelieve), Nancy, the wife of James Murdock, appears as a Ritchie, her father being identified as “John Ritchie” her mother, “Nancy”.  Others the writer’s parents had contact with said that these Ritchies came from Virginia originally, Scotland before that, and that John Ritchie’s father was James.  Efforts have been made to contact the original researchers, and if there are eventually responses I will update this essay.

We can say that this particular Ritchie family believes this is the accurate parentage.  If this is accurate, Nancy’s parents are probably John Ritchie, son of James Ritchie and Mary Polly Keith (and known as “Long John” for reasons I do not know), and Nancy Hutchinson.  An added complication is that John Ritchie and Nancy Hutchinson had two girls named Nancy Ritchie associated with their family.  They were not peers as they were separated in age by 13 years.  Were both girls their daughters, or was the younger a cousin they took in? If both were their daughters why were they both named Nancy?  Until proven otherwise, this essay assumes that at least both lived as sisters.  If our Nancy turns out to have had different parents and was a cousin to the other children of the house I feel confident that we at least have the correct family line and common immigrant ancestor.

This Ritchie family descends from Ritchie family members who left Scotland sometime between 1758 and 1770.

While this essay was principally aimed at better understanding the Ritchie family that married into the Murdock line, the Keith family of Nancy’s grandmother, Mary Polly Keith, a 5th great grandmother to me, has a couple interesting stories of its own.  So, I will be elaborating a bit on the Keith family rather that give them a completely separate essay.

Ritchie Migration to the American Colonies

James Ritchie was born was born 8 May 1757 in Ayrshire, Stewarton Parish, Coayr, Scotland.  I’m not sure where Coayr is, unless it is just a reference to the town of Ayr.  It is believed that he arrived in the colonies with his father, Alexander. Some of his brothers either accompanied them or followed.  Some researchers believe they sailed from Liverpool, England, about 1768 on The Marigold, but this is not confirmed.

Alexander was married to Margaret Wilson. We assume she died prior to their emigration because she is not referenced as being part of the emigrating family.  They had eleven children.  The family story is that Alexander fought at Culloden in 1746, and they became part of the large post-Culloden Scottish migration of the 1750s through the 1770s.  The Ritchie or MacRitchie name is considered to be a sept of the Mackintosh clan in the Dalmunzie area of Scotland in the Highlands of North Perthshire.

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Though unproven as of yet, if the family story that Alexander was present at Culloden is mackintosh-tartanaccurate, he would most likely have been part of the Mackintosh or Clan Chattan regiment mustered by Lady Anne Farquarson of Mackintosh, and led in the charge at Culloden by the MacGilllivary chief, a clan member of the Clan Chattan Confederation in which the Mackintoshes were the principle clan.  I have not seen a muster role for the regiment. In the image below one can see Clan Chattan’s position on the field.  They are drawn up next to the Farquarsons led by Lady Anne’s cousins.


Position of forces at Battle of Culloden

We don’t know where they entered the colonies, though some believe they entered at Yorktown, Virginia and stayed for awhile on the James River. Given the marriage James Ritchie makes, which we will see later in the essay, this seems likely.   However, his father, Alexander, is recorded as dying in 1787 in Cumberland County, North Carolina.  That would imply that no matter where they entered, eventually they, or at least he, headed for the significant Scottish Highland community of the Cape Fear area of southeast North Carolina. Perhaps they had family in the area that had emigrated earlier.

James must have moved back north, or perhaps never left Virginia, because we find him married to Mary Polly Keith, in Stafford County, Virginia, the daughter of Samuel Keith and Catherine Ring.

James served as a private in the 2nd Virginia Regiment in the Revolution.  He was thought to have been present at the battles of Monmouth and Kings Mountain.  He fought at Yorktown along with his brother, John, and was captured.

Later James and Mary moved with more of their family to what was Burke and would become Buncombe County, North Carolina prior to 1790 when they appear in the first federal census.  Also on  the 1790 Census of Burke/Buncombe County are two of Mary’s brothers, Gabriel and Ruben.  They all appear again on the 1800 census, but afterwards James and Mary move back to Virginia around 1801 or 1802.  In 1802 James applied for and received a land grant in Russell County, Virginia in 1804.  They lived beside Crane’s Creek in what is now Wise County, Virginia.

James and Mary moved on to Kentucky about 1815.  James drowned crossing Carr Creek, a branch of Troublesome Creek, in Perry County, Kentucky, in 1818. It’s said he was buried near Carr Creek.

By this time they had at least six children.  Mary seems to have moved back to North Carolina with her family, except for Alexander Crockett Ritchie who remained in Kentucky, and in which state his descendants still reside.

Mary’s son, John, and his wife, Nancy Hutchinson, settled in Scott County, Virginia where they appear on the 1820 and 1830 census.  As I noted earlier, interestingly enough there were two girls named Nancy Ritchie in there household.  One born in 1809 who would marry Jeremiah Powers, and our Nancy, born in 1822, who would marry James Murdock.  It’s possible that our Nancy was not the blood daughter of John and Nancy – possibly a cousin.

John and Nancy moved their family to Russell County, Virginia in 1831 or 1832.  They are on the 1840 land tax list for Russell County.  The 1850 Census finds them in a  part of Russell County, Virginia, Nancy’s home county, that is now Wise County near the Kentucky border.  It’s believed that they settled on Sandy Ridge. Their son, John Ritchie, lived directly behind the little settlement of Cranes Nest at Fullers Gap on Cranes Nest River.


Fuller Gap viewed from Fuller Rocks

They were all in Wise County when it was formed.  John Ritchie was a farmer and Nancy Hutchinson was a midwife.

John, Sr. died before 1860.  Nancy appears in the 1860 Census as living near the Wise County Courthouse.

Nancy Ritchie married James Murdock before 1841 and lived in Iredell County, North Carolina.

A story is recorded in Singing Families of the Cumberlands by Jean Ritchie where descendants of John Ritchie and Crockett Ritchie accidentally met.

During the Civil War, two of John’s daughters would travel across the state line to Kentucky to peddle goods. On one such trip, they began talking to two Kentucky girls. After an exchange of names, they discovered that they were cousins, the two Kentucky women being the daughters of Crockett Ritchie, Long John’s brother. Long John’s daughters invited Crockett’s daughters to visit. As they began planning the gathering, they discovered a small problem. Long John’s family was on the Union side, despite being located in Virginia, and Crockett’s family was on the Confederate side. After promises of protection by the Virginia Ritchie family, the gathering was arranged.

As a personal note, though I related the story above as it was given, I rather think the women who met in Kentucky were more likely granddaughters of Long John and Crockett.  It seems the actual daughters of these two men would have been too old for that kind of duty during the Civil War.  They all would been in their late-40s to 50s at the time.  In any case, it would have been nice to discover a description of the reunion when it happened.

Nancy Ritchie was buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Troutman, Iredell County, North Carolina.  Perhaps one day I can tell more of a story about her life with James Murdock.  In the meantime, I earlier prepared an essay about her son, John Franklin Murdock, from whom we are descended, in John Franklin Murdock – Another mid-19th Century North Carolina Life.


Background on the Keiths

From what I can see, there seems to be general agreement among Keith researchers that the immigrant ancestor of this Keith line was Cornelius Keith and Elizabeth Johnston.  Cornelius was born before 1695.  Many record his place of birth as the Loch Lomond area of Scotland because Loch Lomond, Stirlingshire is inscribed on a tombstone erected for his son, Cornelius, in South Carolina.  Others assert that the location inscribed on the tombstone may have been in error.


Cornelius and Elizabeth emigrated with one son, Cornelius (Jr.), who was born in 1715 in Scotland.  They are believed to have emigrated about 1720.  

Clan Keith was an important supporter of the Jacobites in the 1715 Rising in Scotland.  The keith-ancientdefeat of that rising led to the Keith chief having lands and titles forfeited.  The chief’s family left Scotland for Europe, and the clan members began to scatter as did many other Highlanders in the years after the collapse of the rebellion. These may have been the circumstances that led Cornelius Keith to leave Scotland.

Cornelius is named, along with William Byrd, Captain James Terry and John Kendro, in a land grant of 1721 in the County of New Kent, Virginia.

In Virginia, Cornelius and Elizabeth had at least two more sons, John, born 24 December 1724 in Bristol Parish, Dinwiddie County, Virginia, and Samuel, born 13 December 1725, in Botetourt County, Virginia.  Some genealogies show two more sons, Gabriel and James, in this list of siblings. And there may have been other children as well.

Cornelius, Sr. was living in Brunswick County as early as 1725, and there is a 1728 account of Cornelius Keith living on the Roanoke River, with a wife and six children (recorded in the Journal of William Byrd). Also in 1737, Cornelius was granted license to operate a ferry crossing on the Roanoke River, from his own landing. His land there was sold in 1742.


Sketch of a typical 18th Century Ferry

Cornelius Keith was also a mill stone maker.  In Colonial America millstones were


Millstone Path at Hermitage Museum, Norfolk, Virginia

originally imported, but eventually they came to be quarried in the colonies.  A millstone that was five to six feet in diameter and weighed between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half tons might have been good for twenty years. Flint and buhrstone were the most common materials used in Virginia, while quartzite was more common in North Carolina.  We assume Cornelius used one or more of these materials.


Our line descends from Samuel Keith, who married Catherine Ring (born about 1730) .  They had four children, Henry (1750) and Reuben (about 1754), both born in Buncombe County, North Carolina, and Gabriel (about 1755) and Mary “Polly” (1758) in Botetourt County, Virginia.

Some researchers show Gabriel as Catherine Ring’s husband.  Others show Samuel. It is conceivable that Gabriel married his brother’s widow.  The year of Samuel’s death is a little uncertain.

There are two interesting stories involving the Keiths that I relate below.

Cornelius Keith Arrives In Cherokee Land
Cornelius Keith, Jr., my 7th great uncle, was born in 1715 in Scotland, possibly in the Loch Lomond, Stirlingshire area. When he was still a child, he came with his parents to Virginia and settled on the Roanoke River in Brunswick County.  He married Juda Thompson, then Mary (or Sarah) Bohannon. As a side note, “Bohannon” is simply a different anglization of “Buchannan.”

There was a great deal of movement in the colonies in the mid-18th century as settlers migrated looking for cheaper land.  In 1743, Cornelius and his family moved southward along the Blue Ridge mountains in a narrow-gauge covered wagon pulled by a pony with two other ponies hitched to the back of the wagon.


A typical family would have filled that wagon with clothing, bedding, dishes, dried vegetables and fruits, and breadstuffs enough to last for months until more could be made. There would have been grain and other seeds for planting, a spinning wheel, tools, iron pots, kettles, ovens, and buckets.

They probably followed the Indian trails and blazed the way close to the hills of the Blue Ridge Range. They came down into the Carolinas and finally settled in the uplands of South Carolina in what became the Oolenoy Community in Pickens County, South Carolina in view of Table Rock Mountain.


They probably initially built a brush harbor on a flat-top hill overlooking the Oolenoy River Valley and the surrounding mountains. I read that Miracle Hill Mission School is now located on this ground and has a plaque memorializing the original settler, but I have not seen a picture of the plaque.


Sketch of a brush harbor church. A home would have been closed on all sides with brush and stick or canvas flap for a door

There was a Cherokee village on Uwharrie Mountain and these were the first first white settlers in their territory.  However, it didn’t escalate into conflict.   Keith and the Cherokee Chief Woolenoy bartered.  Keith told Woolenoy he would trade one pony for land and asked how much land he would give. The chief showed that he would give all the land


Oolenoy River

Keith wanted. So, Keith traded the pony for a big wedge of what is now Pickens County consisting of the entire lower half of the Oolenoy River Valley and for the privilege of hunting and fishing. Family lore says that this trade was sealed by the ceremony of smoking the peace pipe. This was the beginning of the Oolenoy Settlement.


Uwharrie Mountains

The below Mills Map of the Pendleton District, published circa 1825, has the word “Keith” on the spot where Cornelius Keith built his first hut.



The first Keith cabin was probably one room with a dirt floor and stick and dirt chimney. The cracks would have been chinked with mud to keep out the cold. Long boards were rived from trees of the virgin forest for the roof, door, and window shutters. Later, a puncheon floor was added and a shed room.

The relationship with the Cherokee helped the family survive the first year and learn to thrive in this area.

Keith researchers say that as the family grew a large log house was built with two large rooms with an open hall between. Steps went from this hall to two upstairs bedrooms. There were also two shed rooms at the back. The chimneys were of field rock with mud mortar.

They raised twelve children on this land, three of whom served in the Revolutionary War although the Cherokees were in sympathy with the British.  Given the positive relationship between the Keiths and the Cherokees this must have been quite a story.

The younger son of the chief of Clan Grant, Ludovic, was sentenced to transportation to the American Colonies for his role in the 1715 Rising.  After spending seven years of indentured servitude, Ludovc Grant ended up living among the Cherokee of North Carolina, even marrying a Cherokee woman and remaining with the Cherokee Nation for decades until his death.  Given their relationship with the Cherokee and being Scottish Highlanders, I wondered if the Keiths came to know Grant, but have not found any such indication.

Cornelius Keith died in 1808 and was buried in Oolenoy Church Cemetery. His monument was patterned after that of an Indian chief — a mound of field rock with a small soap stone head rock. The inscription was simply, Cornelius Keith, Born 1715, Died 1808. In 1956, his descendants erected a monument which contained a bronze plaque with the Keith Coat of Arms.


Oolenoy Baptist Church – An integrated church

cornelius_keith_marker_largeThe story of the Oolenoy Baptist Church graveyard where Cornelius was buried is another interesting story of the South.

After the Revolutionary War more people moved into the area of the Keiths.  After 1795 enough settlers were present to warrant a church being built. By the time other Keoth brothers had joined Cornelius on his land. They jointly provided land for a small log church roofed with wide boards split from white oak trees. It was not heated so services may have been discontinued in the winter. The first pastor and organizer of the church was Rev. John Chastain. Church records do not exist before1833. in 1834, the church was called “The Church of Christ”. Despite its presence in the South, the church was multi-racial.  In 1837, two Blacks were received by letter. The 1845 minutes report 97 members, including 18 blacks. Black participation in the church continued until Black families left the area after 1868.  A new building of planks was built in 1840.  This church was larger than the old one – about 40 feet long. It had big windows with wooden shutters. The floor and seats were made of rough planks.


And there we leave it for now – two Scottish Highland families, both affected by 18th century wars, the 1715 Rising for the Keiths and the 1745 Rising for the Ritchies, and both searching for new lives in the American colonies, ultimately bonding their families through marriage in yet another Southern story of our family.

The Children of George Benjamin Allen and Mary Fleming Thompson

By Richard Gwynallen

In An Allen and Thompson Story – From the Farm to the Citywe introduced the family of George Benjamin Allen and Mary Fleming Thompson in order to explore my father’s paternal line, George and Mary being his great grandparents.

In this essay I am particularly looking at the siblings of their son, my great-grandfather, Alonzo Lafayette Allen, whose story was introduced in the above mentioned article, but who will make an appearance here, too.

The Allen-Thompson farm where they all grew up was near modern day Wake Forest, North Carolina.  In the 1850 Federal Census the residence is referred to as in the Western Division, Wake County, North Carolina.

By the time of the 1860 Federal Census, Forestville had become the post office for their farm.  Forestville developed as a town as it was on a major north-south path used by Indians and settlers on a ridge between Smith Creek and Richland Creek. Also, an early Wake County road, Forestville Road, crossed that ridge and probably continued on toward the community of Falls. During the 1830s stores opened in Forestville, and on 19 March 1840 the railroad reached the village.  By the 1870s Forestville was a center for mills as well as stores.  “In 1872 the village of Forestville boasted at least eight nearby mills grinding corn and flour, six general stores, one liquor store, a shoemaker and the Masonic lodge.” (Source: Wake Forest Gazette).  George and Mary and their children probably traveled to Forestville regularly for a variety of commercial needs.

However, Wake Forest College had its start in a house purchased by the North Carolina Baptist State Convention. From early in the 1850s the college worked to get the train depot moved from Forestville north to Wake Forest. As the area grew following the Civil War they finally succeeded in getting a post office and then the relocation of the depot in 1872.

By the 1870 Federal Census, Wake Forest was the post office for George and Mary’s farm.


Map showing general area of Allen-Thompson Farm and family life – Wake Forest and Forestville

George and Mary had at least 11 children, of which Alonzo was the youngest.  Some moved from the farm to the city.  Others tried to stay the course as family farmers.  I haven’t found out much about several, but there are small stories to tell about a few.  This essay may be a work in progress, with me adding material as I find it.

I am going to start with my 2nd great-uncle, George Michael Allen (1835-1907), because part of his story directly relates to that previously mentioned article.

George enlisted in the Confederate Army in Wake County on 15 July 1861. He enlisted as a Private in Company A, 1st Light Artillery Regiment, North Carolina. For most of the war this regiment was part of General James Longstreet’s army.

His brother William (1833 – 1900), obviously another 2nd great-uncle of mine, had earlier enlisted in Wake County on 8 May 1861 as a Sergeant in Company A, 1st Light Artillery Regiment, North Carolina. He was promoted to Full Quartermaster Sergeant on 1 January 1863.

The brothers were present at the battles of Seven Pines, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness campaign, and others.  The regiment was among the last to leave Petersburg covering the retreat of the Confederate Army. The battery joined the army at Appomattox Court House after Petersburg was evacuated.  They received word of the surrender at Appomattox and final orders to bury their guns and burn the carriages. Upon completion of this task, the men mounted their horses and rode off for Lincolnton, North Carolina. Officially the battery was surrendered at Appomattox, but the soldiers were never officially paroled as they left the field and did not receive parole papers. I do not know if they were ordered to depart or did so on their own, or what their objective was.  In any case, William took the Oath of Allegiance on 6 June 1865 at Raleigh, North Carolina. We don’t yet know when or where George took the oath.

In An Allen and Thompson Story – From the Farm to the City, I described the migration of the family from the farm to Raleigh. I particularly focused on Alonzo and his son, Worth Bagley, and their business, Allen Forge & Welding.  I understood that Alonzo had been in the business with at least one brother, but I had not seen business records from the forge that would describe who worked there.

In the 1880 Federal Census, George, the eldest child of George and Mary, is living in southeast Raleigh, with his occupation listed as “Foundry Plow Castings and C.”  Not sure what “C” means.  However, it seems that George was already forging metal plow implements while Alonzo was still living on the farm.  As far as I know Allen Forge & Welding did not open until 1910.  Perhaps the business got started when more of the brothers, or at least Alonzo, moved to Raleigh.  Perhaps they decided to build on the business George had already started.

George was the second oldest child, born in 1835. Alonzo was the youngest, born in  1855.  When Allen Forge & Welding opened in 1910 George was already 74 years old. It’s possible that Alonzo and other brothers took the business from George as their older brother was entering retirement.  We also don’t know when George died.  He was alive in 1900 when the Federal Census was taken. He was listed as living in Raleigh Ward 1, Wake, North Carolina.  At that time, Alonzo was a carpenter living in Franklinton, North Carolina.

My 2nd great-aunt, Susan Hicks Allen (1844-1917), married James Anthony Winston in 1865.  She was 21.  He was 24.  James’ parents were Isaac Winston and Salle Allen.  Salle may have been Mary Ann’s aunt, making Susan and James cousins, but this relationship is not proven.

In the 1880 Federal Census Mary Ann and James appear as farmers in Freemans, Franklin County, North Carolina.

My 2nd great-aunt Mary Ann Allen was born in 1852.  She married Almond Fleming on 7 December 1876 in Wake County, North Carolina.  In the 1880 Census they appear as farmers in Little River, Wake County, North Carolina, but they are listed in the Jacksonville, Florida City Directory by 1891.  In the 1910 Census they are living in Jacksonville Ward 2, Duval, Florida.  Almond died there in 1915.

One of their children, Wade Hampton Fleming married Marcile Haynes.  He was a truck driver.  They are shown in the Jacksonville City Directory of 1929 to have lived in this house on 3040 Rosselle.


Marcile seems to have been a local pianist of some reputation.  One of the clippings shows she was the pianist at the “electric theatre,” meaning she played in a silent movie theatre.



My 2nd great-uncle, Sidney Franklin Allen (1848 – 1918) was by the 1880 Census a farmer in Wake Forest Township, Wake County, North Carolina, and married to Cora Young.

My 2nd great-aunt, Caroline “Carrie” Allen, was born in 1838, and married John Richard Holland on 13 February 1862.  They appeared in the 1880 Federal Census as farmers in Wake County, North Carolina. Their farm must have have been very near that of her parents as they appear in the census immediately after George and Mary’s household.  After the death of her father, George, in 1884, her mother, Mary, would come to live with them.

My great-grandfather, Alonzo Lafayette Allen (1855-1932), was in the 1880 Census a young man of 25, living at home and identified as a laborer, which probably means he hired himself out to various jobs.  His brother Henry, age 40, and sister, Candace, age 34, are also living at home in 1880.  No occupation is listed for either. Both are simply identified as “At Home.” They may have just been visiting at the time of the census.

We know Alonzo eventually moved to Raleigh and was in 1910 involved with the opening of Allen Forge & Welding with his older brother, George.  In the 1900 census, Alonzo was living in Franklinton, North Carolina and listed as a carpenter.  It must have been somewhere between 1900 and 1910 that he moved to Raleigh because in the 1910 Federal Census he is in Raleigh working in a repair shop.  This may have been Allen Forge & Welding since it opened that year.

Eventually, Allen Forge & Welding went to Alonzo’s sons, Milton (my great-uncle) and Worth Bagley (my grandfather).

The earliest Raleigh City Directory I have seen to date is the 1928 directory.  It shows Milton as proprietor of Allen Forge & Welding.  Worth Bagley was a machinist in the business.  Perhaps Milton was the blacksmith.   Milton’s wife, Lyda Martin Purnell, is listed as the bookkeeper and secretary in different directories.  Various directories from 1928 forward show the same listings, and list the various people employed at Allen Forge & Welding.


Ad from 1934 Hill’s Raleigh City Directory

In 1928, Alonzo was living at 612 Lane Street in Raleigh, and seems to have remained at this residence until his death in 1932.


612 Lane Street, Raleigh, built in 1910

The 1928 directory shows Worth Bagley Allen and Mabel Mooneyham living at 210 W. Morgan in Raleigh.  The next year we find them at 404 Kinsey.  By 1938 they had moved to 614 Polk Street, and lived there until 1940 when they moved out of the city to County Road 1, Cary, North Carolina. However, in 1938 we find Milton Allen and his family at 404 Kinsey.  Perhaps it was a family property, or a rental property that simply passed from one Allen tenant to the next.


404 Kinsey Street, Raleigh, built in 1920


614 Polk Street, Raleigh, built in 1926

I’ll close this essay with Larkin Jethro Allen.  I saw one genealogical chart where he appears as Larkin Jethro Jeter Allen.  The Jeters are a family that intermarried with Allens in North Carolina. In the 1850 Federal Census it is hard to read his name.  It could be Jethro or Jeter.  Usually he appears in records as Larkin J. Allen.  So, bottom line is that there is confusion over his middle name.

I have seen Larkin listed as one of the children of George Benjamin Allen, and as the brother of George Benjamin Allen.  Personally, I doubt the theory that Larkin was George’s son. Though I’ve not seen a birth certificate for either one of them it appears that George was born in 1808 and Larkin in 1822. The age given for George in the 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 federal censuses is consistent at placing his birth in 1808.  For Larkin, the 1850 census shows a Jethro Larkin in the house of George’s parents, Benjamin Allen and Martha Hicks, age 29, which makes for an 1821 or 1822 year of birth.  He may have been married at that time and simply at home at the time of the census, or back performing work on his parents’ farm.  Some say he married a Mary (possibly Mary McCall) about 1846, then Catherine Horton in 1851.  However, his wife at the time of the 1880 census is recorded as “Mary.” The 1860 census shows Larkin farming in Cleveland County, North Carolina and gives a birth year of 1822.  And the 1880 census has him still in Cleveland County and lists his age as 58, for a birth year of 1822.

For him to be George’s son George would have had to have been only 14 at the time of Larkin’s birth.  George was not married until November of 1832, and there is a marriage bond and marriage record proving that time period.  To the best of my knowledge this marriage to Mary Fleming Thompson was his first marriage.

So, I believe that Larkin was George Benjamin’s much younger brother, making Larkin my 3rd great uncle.


Believed to be Larkin J. Allen at about the time of the Civil War

Before moving to Cleveland County, Larkin appears as a witness to the marriage bond of Lucy Earp and Benjamin Perry in Wake County on 24 September 1849.

At the time of the Civil War Larkin and Mary were farming in Cleveland County.  Due to his age at the time of his enlistment, he may have been a reluctant recruit to the Confederate Army, most likely conscripted, though not impossible that he enlisted for the enlistment bonus.  He enlisted as a Private on 13 August 1863 at the age of 41 or 42. He enlisted in Company G, 49th Infantry Regiment North Carolina.  He was wounded about 15 July 1864.  He was hospitalized on 28 October 1864 at Richmond, Virginia, and returned to duty on 29 December 1864.  I’ve never seen any war records past that.

Larkin and Mary had 12 children, nine of which were listed for their household in the 1880 federal census.  Anjaline, Emeline, Margaret, and Eliza were all married at that time and listed as “At Home.”  They were present in the house at the time of the census.  William, Laban, Perry, and Naomi are all listed as “works on farm.”  The youngest, Levis or Lewis, is nine years old.

Information about Larkin and Mary becomes scant after this time.  Larkin, not an uncommon name in the 19th century south, is an anglicized form of the Gaelic name, Lorcán.