Shannon - Witten.
The Shannons of New River Valley.
The Shannons came from Ireland at a period anterior to
the beginning of our War for Independence, and located in what is now
the County of Amherst, in Virginia, then probably Albemarle County.
Samuel, the New River Valley settler, came with his family over the
Alleghanies in 1744, and located at the place now called Poplar Hill, in
the then County of Fincastle, now Giles County. After a residence
of ten years, and after the marriage of his oldest son, whose name was
Thomas, he, in the spring of 1784 (Shannon MSS.), with his family,
except Thomas and his wife, who remained, removed to a point near
whereon now stands the city of Nashville, Tennessee.
Thomas married Miss Agnes Crowe, and continued in
possession of the Poplar Hill property, which is still in the hands of
his descendants. He became a man of prominence in civil and
military affairs; was long a Magistrate of Giles County, Sheriff
thereof, and a Representative in the Legislature. In the month of
February, 1781, the British Army advanced northward through the
Carolinas toward Virginia, and Colonel William Preston, the military
commandant of the Montgomery troops, and of which Joseph Cloyd was
Major, called out the forces to go to the help of the American Army
commanded by General Greene. Thomas Shannon was the Captain of the
Middle New River Company, in which one Alexander Marrs was a Lieutenant,
and among the members thereof were Thomas Farley, Isaac Cole, Matthew
French, John French, Joseph Hare, Edward Hale, the Clays, and others.
Captain Shannon and his company joined the battalion at the New River
Lead Mines about the middle of February, 1781, and on the 18th day of
that month the command under Colonel Preston and Major Cloyd, 350
strong, marched to the Haw River section of North Carolina, in the
vicinity of which was the Army of General Greene, as was that of Lord
Cornwallis. Being in a strange country, and not being advised of
the positions of the respective armies, Preston's men went into camp,
finding themselves the next morning between the combatants, and close by
the British pickets. Colonel Preston had been ordered to report to
General Pickens, and was on his way thither when he halted and camped
between the armies. On the 2nd day of March Lee's Legion and
Preston's Battalion had a spirited encounter with Tarleton's Cavalry,
inflicting upon it considerable loss. Again on the 6th of March,
at Wetzel's Mills, Pickens' command, including Preston's and Cloyd's
men, had quite a battle with the British advance.
General Pickens retreated to Guilford Court House, where the troops of
Preston and Campbell, under Colonel William Campbell, were posted on the
American left, and put up a good fight. They were attacked by
Colonel Tarleton, who led the British right wing, and he says in his
"His. of His Southern Campaign," that his troops were
badly hurt by the Backwoodsmen from Virginia; that "they were
behind a fence, and stood until the British Infantry, with their
bayonets, climbed the fence." Captain Shannon lived to
the age of ninety years, leaving a son, Thomas, who married Julia Allen,
and their children are: Thomas, Joseph, James R., all three of
whom are dead; William R., who married a Miss Bush; Nancy,
now dead, who married John Henderson Bane; Eliza, who married
James B. Miller; and Samuel B., who resides on the old homestead.
The second Thomas Shannon served as a Magistrate in his county, and sat
as a member of the County Court for long years, and was more than once a
member of the Virginia Legislature. At the beginning of the Civil
War in 1861 he was reckoned the wealthiest man in Giles County.
His sons were all gallant Confederate soldiers.
Opposite this page is seen the photograph of Mr. William
R. Shannon, the great-grandson of the settler.
The Smiths of New River.
This family is here designated as of "New
River," otherwise it might not be known to what family of Smiths
reference is made, and hence, they are styled "The Smiths of New
River." Isaac Smith was a soldier of the American Revolution,
and served with the Corps of LaFayette at Yorktown. He lived in
that part of Rockingham County now embraced in Madison. The
territory in which it is supposed and believed that he was born, was
then Augusta County, and was still Augusta when, in about 1770, he
married Miss Simms. After the Battle of Yorktown and the return of
the Virginia Militia to their homes Mr. Smith, together with several of
his neighbors and relations, in the year of 1782, passed over the
Alleghanies into the New River Valley. Mr. Smith was
brother-in-law to John Peters and Larkin Stowers, and they, together
with Christian Peters, Charles Walker and others, came to New River.
Smith settled on the Long Bottom on New river, nearly opposite the place
of settlement of John Peters. Among the sons of Isaac Smith were:
Ezekiel, Benjamine, and William, the latter born in 1774. Ezekiel
went to Texas before the war for its independence, was captured by the
Mexicans and kept a prisoner for five years. His son,
French C. Smith, a man of talent and brilliancy, followed his father to
Texas, and became a prominent figure in that state, having been the Whig
candidate for Governor, but was defeated by General Sam Houston, the
Democratic candidate, by a large majority. Benjamine Smith lived
in the County of Mercer and had several sons-- among them Theodore, who
went West--Thomas, and Allen. Dr. French W. Smith, of Bluefield,
and Judge Charles W. Smith, of Princeton, West Virginia, are the
grandsons of Benjamine Smith.
Captain William Smith married a Mrs. Neal, whose maiden
name was Dingess, a daughter of Peter Dingess, a Revolutionary soldier,
who served in Trigg's Battalion of Montgomery County Artillery in
LaFayette's Corps at the Battle of Yorktown.
Opposite page 454 will be seen the photograph of Captain
William Smith, taken when he was a very old man. He lived to about
the age of eighty-four. Mr. John B. Smith, of
Willowton, in Mercer County, is a son of Mr. Benjamine Smith, and was a
heroic and devoted Confederate soldier.
The Snidows of New River Valley.
This family is of German origin and the first of the
family to come to America was Christian Snyder, who landed at
Philadelphia in 1727. The record kept at the Port of Philadelphia
of the arrival of emigrants does not disclose that Christian brought a
family with him; if he had done so the same would have been
recorded. He no doubt was a young man at the time, and
had crossed the ocean to seek his fortune in the New World. The
spelling of this name is no index as to who he was, as the original
German spelling, is Schneider. It is spelled as originally also
Snyder, Snider, Snido, and Snidow. There is, however, something in
the use among these German people of the given name; as the same
given names in families are handed down from one generation to another.
In this family the name Christian seems to have been handed down for
more than a hundred years. When, or who Christian Snidow married
is not now known, but there came in 1765 to New River, from
Pennsylvania, John Snidow, who had married Elizabeth Helm; he came
to see the country, and visited Philip Lybrook at the mouth of Sinking
Creek. It is likely, in fact more than probable, that Lybrook had
been his neighbor in Pennsylvania. The circumstances show that he
had made up his mind to settle in the New River Valley, as he went back
to Pennsylvania and the next year, 1766, started for the New River with
his family, and on the way was taken suddenly and violently ill and
died. His widow, Mrs. Elizabeth, with her children, some of them
very small, made her way to Philip Lybrook's, or to his neighborhood.
The exact place of her settlement is difficult to locate, but from
circumstances it is believed that she made her home near the mouth of
Sinking Creek, in what is now Giles County. Mrs. Snidow's family
consisted of five sons and three daughters; the sons, Philip,
Christian, John, Theophilus, and Jacob; daughters, Barbara,
and two small girls, killed by the Indians in 1774.
Philip married Barbara Prillman, Christian married Mary
Burke, Jacob married, first, Clara Burke, second, Miss Pickelsimon, and
third, Mary Hankey; John was killed, being thrown from a horse;
Theophilus, when quite a lad, was captured by the Indians in 1774, and
after being detained in captivity a number of years returned in bad
health, and soon died; Barbara, the daughter, married Jacob
Prillman, of Franklin County. Among the children of Barbara
Prillman Snidow, was Christian, called the Blacksmith, to distinguish
him from his uncle, Colonel Christian.
The children of Colonel Christian Snidow and his wife,
Mary Burke Snidow, were: Sons, John, Lewis, and William H.;
the daughters were, Elizabeth, Mary, Rebecca, Clara, Nancy and Sallie.
John married Rachael Chapman, daughter of Isaac and Elian Johnston
Chapman; their children were, Christian, James H., David J. L.,
Elizabeth, Mary, Elian C., and Ellen J.
Lewis Snidow married Barbara, the daughter of the
blacksmith, Christian, and his wife, Sarah Turner Snidow; their
children are, William Henry Harrison and George Lewis; the latter
married Josephine Snidow; the former unmarried.
After the death of Lewis Snidow his widow, Barbara, married Jacob
Douthat, by whom she had several children.
William H. Snidow married Adeline Chapman,
daughter of John Chapman; the names of their children
are: John Chapman Snidow, now dead; James Piper Snidow
and Annie, the latter now dead, and who married Dr. Harvey G. Johnston.
Elizabeth, the daughter of Colonel Christian Snidow,
married John Peck, of Giles County; Mary married Major Henry
Walker, of Botetourt, later of Mercer County; Rebecca
married Benjamine Peck, of Monroe County; Clara married Conrad
Peters, of Monroe County; Nancy married James Harvey, of Monroe
County; Sallie married Haven Bane, of Giles County. Among
the descendants of John Peck and his wife, Elizabeth, are, in part the
Pecks of Giles, the Vawters of Monroe, the Kelleys of Smyth, the McNutts
of Mercer, and the Pecks of Logan County, West Virginia.
Some of the descendants of Major Henry Walker and wife
reside in Mercer County; the descendants of Benjamine Peck reside
in Monroe, Mercer, Giles, and in the State of Kansas. The
descendants of James Harvey and wife reside in Monroe County, among
them, the Adairs of Red Sulphur, and the family of the late Allen
Colonel Christian Snidow, when quite a young man, was a
lieutenant in Captain John Floyd's Company, and did service in Barger's,
Snidow's and Hatfield's Forts, and in scouts and skirmishes with the
Indians. His father-in-law, Captain Thomas Burke, born 1741 and
died 1808, and whose wife's given name was Clara, was also a Captain in
the Indian wars, and at one time in command at Hatfield's Fort.
Colonel Christian Snidow was for long years a Justice of the Peace, in
both Montgomery and Giles Counties; was Sheriff of
Giles County, and frequently represented the same in the House of
Delegates of Virginia. Among his descendants were some of the best
and bravest soldiers in the Confederate Army.
The New River Straleys
(German, Strahle) was a German, born at
Frankfort-on-the-Main, in Germany; his wife was Susan Barbor, whom
he married in Germany, and came directly after his marriage to America,
in 1758, and found his way to James River, where the city of Lynchburg
now stands. Jacob Straley had a brother John, who came
over to America with him, and they are supposed to have landed in New
York; John had a wife and several children.
Jacob came South with other emigrants to Virginia, and
John went into Pennsylvania; separating, they lost sight of each
other and seem never to have heard of each other after their separation.
Jacob, as before stated, found his way to where Lynchburg now stands;
there he bought land of his brother-in-law, Jacob Lynch, and here the
children of Jacob Straley and his wife, Susan, were born, to-wit:
Andrew, Elizabeth, Catherine and Jacob. Jacob Straley and his wife
Susan both died and were buried at Lynchburg. Andrew was twice
married, but had no family; he was a soldier of the American
Revolution, and Jacob, his brother, a youth of about sixteen at the
close of the Revolution, served in what was called the Reserves, or Home
Guards. Elizabeth married a man by the name of Caldwell, by whom
she had two or three children; her husband died, she
then married a man by the name of Marshall Burton, by whom she had a son
called Isaac, who married a Snodgrass, and who left a son, Green, living
now in Giles County, and three daughters, Lucretia, who married
McCauley; Sallie, who married Albert, and the name of the husband
of Jane is not known. Catherine Straley, daughter of the elder
Straley, went to Kentucky.
Jacob Straley, son of the elder Jacob, was a brick mason
by trade, and about the year of 1782 came to New River, in what is now
Giles County, and in June, 1785, married Martha French, daughter of
Matthew and Sallie Payne French, by whom he had nine sons and two
daughters. His sons were: James, Daniel, John, David,
Charles, Jacob, French, Joseph and Leland; the daughters were
Sallie and Nancy. James married Betsey Vaught, Daniel married Mary
French, John married Betsey Wilson, Charles married Betsey McComas,
Jacob L. married Eliza Bergen, French died unmarried; Joseph
married Jane Brown, David married Elizabeth Perkins, Leland died young
and unmarried, Sallie married Isaac French, and Nancy married Edward
James Straley and his wife had one son, Madison, and six
daughters: Martha, who married Joseph Summers;
Talitha, who married Hampton Brown; Almira, who
married George C. Stafford; Rebecca, who married James H. Wilburne;
Serilda, who married John Stafford, and Maharald, who married James P.
Daniel Straley and his wife, Mary, had two sons
and two daughters; the sons were James F. and Jacob
C., both of whom died childless; Julia T. married Colonel James M.
Bailey, of Mercer County, and by him had five children, two sons and
three daughters. The sons, Gaston C. and Daniel M., and daughters,
Lizzie, died unmarried; Belle, married James D. Honaker, and Alice
married a Mr. Lee.
Sallie F. married Elijah Bailey and had two children,
Robert H. and Mary J.
John Straley and Elizabeth, his wife, had two sons and
six daughters; the sons, Charles D. and Harrison W.;
the daughters, Louisa, married Claudius Burdett; Araminta,
married Elijah Bailey; Dorcas, married Benjamine Tinsley;
Martha, married Andrew J. Davis; Harriet, married J. McThompson;
Valeria, married John Q. Spangler. Charles D. Straley died in
1890, unmarried; Louisa has a large family; Dorcas, Araminta
and Martha have no children; Harriet has two children;
Valeria has three living children. Harrison W. Straley,
now dead, married Delia A. Byrnside, who died in May, 1888, and by her
he had four children who reached their majority.
Charles Straley, by his wife Betsey, had nine children,
and by his second marriage with Miss Warneck, whom he married in the
state of Illinois, had one son, Hugh. Charles Straley
removed to Texas, where he died.
Jacob Lynch Straley and his wife, Eliza, had three
children, all daughters. Margaret married a Mr. Eldridge, of
Tennessee; Caladonia married Joseph Taylor, and Sallie married
David C. Straley, son of Joseph. Jacob L. Straley was a minister
of the Methodist Church. Joseph Straley and his wife Jane had but
two children, William D. and David C.
David Straley and Elizabeth, his wife, had two sons and
three daughters. The sons were: Granville P. and
David B., the latter dying young; the former is a lawyer by
profession, and lives in Maury County, Tennessee. The
daughters, Martha T., married Dr. George A. Long, now dead; Mary,
married Girard Willis, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, both being now dead.
Sallie married Mr. Anderson, and they live in South Carolina.
Sallie Straley married Isaac French, and had two
children: Harvey and Elizabeth, both dead. Harvey never
married; Elizabeth married Oscar F. Johnston.
Nancy Straley, who married Edward Morgan, had four sons
and three daughters; the sons are, Rufus, John, Newton, and
Joseph; and the daughters, Martha, who married Mr. Noffsinger;
Virginia, who married Richard Gilliam, and Sallie, who died young and
unmarried. This Straley people have been quiet, law-abiding and
unpretentious, never seeking public position, always ready and serving
their friends, especially their relations. Three of the sons of
Jacob Straley and his wife, Martha French Straley, served in the war of
1812; they were James, Daniel and John. Our Civil War,
1861-5, produced from their ranks some magnificent soldiers, among them
Captain Jacob C., son of Daniel, who led, as Captain, a company in the
17th Virginia Regiment of Cavalry; he was bold and fierce on the
field of battle, and rode boldly in to the thickest of the conflict and
abreast the storm as if on parade. His courage was not exceeded by
that of any man who ever drew sabre. There is
presented opposite this page the photograph of Harrison W. Straley, the
great-grandson of the emigrant.
The Wittens of Tazewell.
This was a Saxon family from Wittensburg, in Prussia,
and a part of the family emigrated to America at a very early day and
located in Maryland, about the time of the first white
settlements therein. They were neighbors to the Cecils, with whom
they married and intermarried for long years. A few years prior to
1771 Thomas Witten, whose wife was a Cecil, and who, with his family,
had removed to the neighborhood of Fredericktown, Maryland, came along
the Valley of Virginia and over the Alleghanies, living for a year or
two at the large spring on Walker's Creek near what is now known as the
William Allen farm, and becoming close neighbors of Samuel W. Cecil, who
had come from Maryland. The Wittens decided to move to the Clinch,
and on the 16th day of March, 1771, they located on that stream;
Thomas settled at the Crab Orchard, west of the present Court House of
Tazewell; James near what is now Pisgah Church, and Jerry at a
point west of the Court House. James Witten, born near
Fredericktown, in 1759, married Rebecca Cecil, and William Cecil married
Nancy Witten. The Wittens are among the most prominent citizens of
Tazewell County; several of them having been honored with
important civil positions. Mr. J. W. M. Witten was a Senator in
the Virginia Legislature, and also represented Tazewell in the House of
Delegates. Upon information derived from Mr. James R. Witten,
Governor Greenup, of Kentucky, son of John, of the Clinch Valley, was
born near what is now known as Pisgah Church, in Tazewell County.
It is said that James Witten carried the first Negro slaves into what is
now Tazewell County.