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A History of The Middle
New River Settlements
and Contiguous Territory.

By David E. Johnston (1906).


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Appendix C.   Biographical.
French - Hale.

The Frenches.

The ancestors of this family lived in Scotland, thence removed to Wales, and from thence, long prior to the American Revolution, came across the Atlantic and settled in the Northern Neck of Virginia--Westmoreland County, within the grant to Lord Fairfax.  It was in Westmoreland, about 1735, that John French married a lady of Welsh extraction.  Among the children born to them was a son, Matthew, in 1737.    Settlers were pressing across the Blue Ridge and on to the south branch of the Potomac, and on and along the Big and Little Cacapon.  As information came back from these people of the wonderland they had found, others became interested and made up their minds to go;  among them John French and his family, in about 1750, made their way up the Rappahannock and over to the south branch of the Potomac, locating at a place since well known as French's Neck, a beautiful and valuable body of land on the south branch of the river mentioned.  John lived but a short while after reaching his new home, and his widow shortly after his death married Captain Cresap.  The district in which John French settled soon became the County of Hampshire.  There were several sons in the family other than Mathew, among them William and James, and a daughter Esther, who married John Locke.

Matthew and his step-father soon had differences of such a nature as to lead to their estrangement and separation;  Matthew, who had not yet attained his majority, sold out his interest in his fathers estate to his step-father, Captain Cresap, and went back over the mountains to Culpeper, where he married an Irish girl whose name was Sallie Payne.  In 1775 Matthew, with his wife and seven children, four sons and three daughters, crossed the Alleghanies into the New River Valley, and settled at what is now known or called the Boyd place, on Wolf Creek, in Giles County, then Fincastle.   The names of the sons of Matthew were John, Isaac, James, and David;  the latter, the youngest child, was born in Culpeper in 1772;  the daughters were Martha, Mary and Annie.  John, the son of Matthew, married Obedience Clay in January, 1787;    Isaac married Elizabeth Stowers for his first wife;  his second was a Mrs. Fillinger;  James married Susan Hughes, a half sister to the elder William Wilburn;   his second wife was Margaret Day;  David married Mary Dingess.

Martha, the daughter of Matthew, married Jacob Straley;  Mary married Isaac Hatfield;  Annie married General Elisha McComas.

The following are the names of the children of John French and his wife Obedience Clay French, viz:  William, Ezekiel, Charles C., James, George P., John, St. Clair, Hugh and Austin, and the daughters, Annie, Sallie, Orrie, Obedience, Nancy and Rebecca.

Isaac French and his wife, Elizabeth Stowers French, had the following named children, viz:  Sallie, Elizabeth, Docey, and Isaac.

The children of James French, by his first marriage, were  three sons, Isaac, Rueben, and Andrew;  and five daughters, Mary, who married Daniel Straley;  Sallie, who married William Hare;  Elizabeth, who married James Rowland;  Isaac married Sallie Straley;  Reuben married Miss Meadows, and Andrew L. married Miss Day;  and by the second marriage James had two daughters, Esther Locke, who married Kinzie Rowland, and Martha, who married William Milan.

The names of the children of David French and his wife, Mary Dingess French, are as follows, viz:  Guy D., who married Araminta D. Chapman;  Napoleon B., who married Jane Armstrong;  Dr. David M., who married Miss Smoot, of Alexandria, Virginia;  Rufus A., William H., and James H., who died unmarried;  the daughters, Cynthia, who married Judge David McComas;  Harriet, who married Samuel Pack;  Minerva, who married Colonel Thomas J. Boyd.

Matthew French died on Wolf Creek, in Giles County, in 1814.  Mrs. Sallie Fletcher, a grand daughter of Mathew French, and 95 years old in 1892, gave to the author in writing a personal description of Mathew French and his wife, whom she well recollected, being a married woman and about seventeen years old at the date of the death of her grandfather.  Mrs. Fletcher says:  "Matthew French was a small, spare made man, light hair and blue eyes;  his wife was a very large woman, quite fleshy, fair complexion, light hair and blue eyes."

Matthew French and his eldest son, John, were American soldiers in our War for Independence, and served in Colonel William Preston's Battalion of Montgomery County Militia, of which Joseph Cloyd was Major, and Thomas Shannon the Captain of the company to which the Frenches were attached.  They were with their company in the battle of Wetzell's Mills, March 6th, 1781, and again at Guilford Count House, on the 15th of    the same month.

The names of the children of Guy D. French and his wife, Araminta D. are as follows, viz:  Henley C., who married Miss Harriet Easley (both now dead) ; Mary, who married William B. Mason (both now dead) ; Fannie, who married J. H. D. Smoot (the latter dead) ; Sarah, who first married Dr. W. W. McComas (killed in battle of South Mills) , and secondly married Captain F. G. Thrasher;  Susan, who married Dr. R. T. Ellett (the latter dead).

Captain David A. French first married Miss Williams, for his second wife Jennie C. Easley;  William A. married Sarah E. Johnston; Charles D. married Annie C. Johnston.  Opposite this page is a photograph of Hon. William A. French, a great grandson of Matthew the Settler.  William A. died in April, 1902

The descendants of Matthew French are scattered far and wide over the South and West.  Among them were many brilliant men and women;  the men have been magistrates, sheriffs, clerks, lawyers, judges, statesmen and soldiers.  David McComas, one of the descendants of Matthew French, was an eminent jurist;  William McComas, another, was a member  of Congress from 1833 to 1837;  Dr. W. W. McComas was a distinguished physician and gallant Confederate soldier;  Colonel James Milton French, now of Arizona, served his country with devotion and honor both in military and civil life.

The Gillespies, of Tazewell County.

These people are the descendants of Scottish ancestors who came to America prior to our War for Independence, and settled first in Pennsylvania, and then removed to western North Carolina, from whence they traveled westward over the mountains into what is now the State of Tennessee, from which came the immediate progenitors of the family to the Clinch Valley section, about 1794.  The Gillespies were quite a distinguished people in Scotland, especially in the affairs of church;  the Rev. Thomas Gillespie, a Presbyterian minister of Scotland, is mentioned as being prominent in the affairs of his church in 1752.

Gillespies' Gap is a well known pass in the Blue Ridge, in North Carolina;    and Haywood, in his Civil and Political History of Tennessee, at pp. 196-7, mentions a Captain Gillespie as serving under Colonel John Sevier in 1779 in the Indian wars in that state, mentioning an incident in connection with this Captain Gillespie, which shows him to have been a man of great personal courage, firmness and magnanimity.    It appears from information furnished the author by the Honorable Albert P. Gillespie, of Tazewell, that two brothers, James and Thomas Gillespie, came from the Cumberland country in Tennessee, about 1794, and that James settled near Chatham Hill, in what is now Smyth County, and that some of his descendants still reside in that section, and some are residents of the County of Tazewell.  Thomas Gillespie is the ancestor of the larger part of the family of that name in Tazewell County, and he left the following sons:  John, Rees, B., Henry, William and Robert;  and daughters, one married James Harrison, and another married a Mr. Thompson.

William M. Gillespie, son of the preceding William, married Olivia Johnston, of Giles County (he and his wife are both now dead), and they had the following children, viz:  David J., who married Elizabeth Sanders;  Joseph S., who married Mary Higginbotham;  Albert P., who married Nannie Higginbotham;  and daughters, Sarah, who married Clinton Barnes;  Margaret, who married Colonel Joseph Harrison;    Mary, who married Oscar Barnes, and Ella, who married Dr. J. L. Painter.   The daughter of Thomas Gillespie, who married James Harrison, was the mother of Colonel Joseph Harrison, now living near Tazewell, Virginia.

The Hales of New River Valley.

This family is of English origin, descendants of the Hales of Kent.    The first American emigrant of the name coming in 1632, bore the coat of arms of the Kentish Hales--three broad arrows, feather white on a red field.  The traditional story in the family of these New River Hales is, that the family was quite numerous in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and that some time prior to the beginning of our War for Independence there were in one family of this name seven brothers, all of whom joined the American Army; a part of them served through the war under General Washington in and around Boston, in the Jerseys and in Pennsylvania;  that one of the older brothers, who had a family, drifted south to Virginia some years prior to the beginning of the Revolution, and located in what is now Franklin County, Virginia;  that this settler had a son Edward, who served in the American Army in the early period of the Revolution, and later, in 1779, came across the Alleghanies into the New River Valley, and later married a Miss Patsy Perdue and settled on Wolf Creek.  Edward Hale was born about 1750, was a man of  rather small stature, fair complexion and blue eyes, was a man of information and intelligence, and became a prominent figure on the border in his day, engaging in the Indian wars, fights and skirmishes.  He was with the party under Captain Matthew Farley, that followed the Indians in the summer of 1783, after their attack on Mitchell Clay's family, on the Bluestone at Clover Bottom, and was in the skirmish had with a part of these Indians on Pond Fork of Little Coal River, in which he killed an Indian at the first fire.  From the back of this Indian, killed by Edward Hale, William Wiley, who was in the party of pursuers, took a strip of the Indian's hide, which he gave to Hale and was used by him and a number of his family for many years as a razor strop.  Opposite this page is the photograph of Dr. James W. Hale, a descendant of the Captain Edward Hale above mentioned.

Edward Hale marched with Captain Shannon's company to North Carolina, in February, 1781, and was in the engagement at Wetzell's Mills, on the 6th day of March, and at Guilford Court House on the 15th day of the same month.  In 1785 Edward Hale married Miss patsy Perdue, a daughter of Uriah Perdue, then recently removed from what is now Franklin County, Virginia.  Mrs. Hale was a sister of the wife of the elder Joseph Hare.  The names of the children of Edward Hale and his wife are as follows, viz:   Thomas, Isaiah, Charles, Jesse, Isaac, Daniel, Elias and William;    and the daughters, Mary and Phoebe.  Thomas married Miss Lucas, Isaiah married Margaret Lucas, Isaac married Miss Lucas, Jesse married Margaret Watts, Elias married Nancy Peters, William married Miss Williams;  Mary married John Williams, and they moved to the state of Missouri, and Phoebe married John McClaugherty, son of James.

Thomas Hale had sons, Charles, Edward, Lorenzo D., Green, Thomas, and Ralph;  daughters, Priscilla, who married William H. French;  Martha, who married, first David F. Alvis, second William Shannon;  Rhonda, who never married.

Isaac had one son, Daniel P.;  daughters, Eliza, who married Captain James F. Hare;  Martha, who married Russell G. French;  Miriam, who married Isaac H. Day;  Mary, who married Charles E. Hale;  Sarah, who married, first, Rufus Brown, second, Luke Wells;  Daniel P., married Martha Shumate.

Daniel had sons, Thomas, Charles E., John A., and Daniel F., and daughters, Elizabeth, who married William Shumate;  Paulina, who married C. W. Tolley;   Linney, who married R. G. Rowland;  Cornelia, who married William Brown.

Charles had sons, John D., William H., and Isaac (the latter died young); daughters, Hulda, who married Andrew Fillinger;  Martha, who married John Walker.

Isaiah had sons, Erastus (who died young), Luther C., who married Miss Alice Peck;  the daughters, Charlotte married William Moser, Louisa married Jacob Snidow, Juliana married Wolf Crotching, Virginia married James Kinzie, Wilmoth married Andrew J. Hare.   Isaiah Hale married a second wife, Mrs. Sallie Lybrook, whose maiden name was Hall; they had daughters,  Lizzie, who married George Spangler;    Sallie L., who married J. Harvey Dunn, and the son, Luther C., above mentioned.

Jesse had sons, Hamilton J. (died during the Civil War), Edward C., who lives in Giles County; daughters, Julia, who married ............ Pettyjohn;  Martha, who died unmarried;  Mary, who married David French;  Eglentine, who married Henry W. Broderick (both dead);  Newtonia, who married Erastus W. Charleton.

For want of correct and sufficient information the names of the children of William Hale and his sister, Mrs. Williams (both of whom died in Missouri) cannot be given in this work.

The children of Elias Hale and his wife, Nancy Peters Hale, are as follows, viz:  John E., who married Miss Moore; Charles A., who married Miss Bailey; Captain Rufus A., who married Julia Bailey; Comrad married ............ ; daughters, Mary who married Calvin Harry; Ardelia, who married John T. Carr; Julia, who died unmarried.

Edward Hale died about 1820, and his descendants are among the most valued citizens of the country; they have occupied prominent and important positions in the civil and military affairs of the district of country in which they have lived.  They have been farmers, physicians, lawyers, merchants, magistrates, members of the Legislature and judges.  As soldiers they have always been the equals of any that the country has sent forth; they fought, bled and died on nearly every important battlefield of our Civil War.  Dr. James W. Hale--formerly a distinguished physician--now an able lawyer, residing at Princeton, West Virginia, was a valiant Confederate soldier in the Civil War, losing an arm at the battle of Piedmont, Virginia, June 5th, 1864.  He is a great-grandson of Edward Hale.  Edward McClaugherty, another great-grandson of Edward Hale, was a lieutenant in Company A, 17th Virginia Regiment of Cavalry, and died in the service. Honorable Robert C. McClaugherty, also a great-grandson of Edward Hale, is a prominent lawyer residing at Bluefield, West Virginia.  He served four years as Judge of the 9th Judicial Circuit of West Virginia.  The late Captain Rufus A. Hale, of Mercer County, was one of the bravest men in his regiment, serving throughout the war 1861-5 with distinction, and was more than once commended by his superior officers for his gallantry and good conduct on the battlefield.  Charles A. Hale, a  brother of Captain Rufus A., was a highly reputable citizen, made a good record and name as a valiant soldier of the 8th Virginia Regiment of Cavalry.

James Perdue, who died in Mercer County in 1900, at the age of one hundred and one years, was a relative of Captain Edward Hale.



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