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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.   Biographies.
Kirk - Napier.

The Kirks.

John Kirk, the ancestor of this family, came from Scotland, and had located, several years prior to the beginning of the American Revolution, in Piedmont, Virginia.  John, the son of this emigrant, came to the New River Valley at an early date, as shown by his written application, made in 1832, for a pension for military services rendered as an American soldier in the Revolution;  he was born in the County of Fauquier, October 10th, 1754.  He had a son, Thomas, who was also an American soldier, and had received, in one of the battles of the War of 1812, a severe wound in the hand.  The Kirks, Duncans and Emmonses were neighbors in Fauquier.

The John Kirk who came to Middle New River married Elizabeth O'Brien, and his son Thomas married Ruth Howe, a daughter of Major Daniel Howe.  John Kirk enlisted in the spring of 1776, in the company of Captain John Chilton, of Fauquier County,  which company was attached to the 3rd Virginia Regiment of Infantry commanded by Colonel Hugh Mercer, of which Thomas Marshall, father of Chief Justice John Marshall, was the Major.  This regiment, after its organization, marched to Alexandria, Virginia, then to Williamsburg, and from there to New York and was posted on Long Island.  Colonel Mercer, having been promoted to Brigadier General and put in command of a brigade consisting of the 3rd, 7th, 11th, and 15th Virginia Regiments, Colonel Weeden was placed in command of the 3rd Regiment, Thomas Marshall becoming Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain Leak, Major.  In the battle of Long Island, in August, 1776, Major Leak was killed and Captain Lee was promoted to Major.  The brigade of Mercer marched to White Plains, then into New Jersey and on to Pennsylvania, camping on the banks of the Delaware, from whence on the evening of  Christmas, 1776,    the army crossed the Delaware through floating ice, and surprised the Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey, capturing more than 1,000 prisoners, who were safely brought away.   The army rested in the vicinity of the Delaware, where it was confronted by the British Army, which, on the night of the...... day of January, 1777, it eluded and by a circuitous route attacked a British force at Princeton, which it defeated.   The brigade to which John Kirk belonged opened this battle;  its brigade commander, General Mercer, fell mortally wounded.  Mr. Kirk was also in the battle of Brandywine, in September, 1777, in which his Captain Chilton, was killed, as was Major Lee, of his regiment;  he was likewise in the battle of Germantown and wintered at Valley Forge.  His term of enlistment for two years expired in the spring of 1778, and he received his discharge.  All the people of the New River Valley, who bear the name of Kirk, and many others who do not, are the descendants of this family.  John Kirk represented Giles County in the House of Delegates of Virginia in the years of 1818-19, and was also Sheriff of that county.

The Lybrooks.

The progenitor of this family came from Holland (Note: George Lybrook was killed by a runaway horse, about 1835, at a point about one half mile south of Pearisburg, Virginia.)  to Pennsylvania.  The original name was Leibroch, but anglicized into Lybrook.  The first and only one of this name that sought and found a home in the New River Valley was Philip Lybrook, who came from Pennsylvania between 1748 and 1755, locating at the mouth of Sinking Creek, in what is now the County of Giles, then Augusta.  He did not come with the Draper's Meadows settlers in 1748, as he is not mentioned, nor does his name appear in connection with that settlement or the people who made it until August 7th, 1755, the day before the butchery of the Draper's Meadows settlers by the Indians, when young Preston had been sent by his uncle, Colonel Patton, over to Lybrook's to get him to help with the reaping of the grain.  Mr. Lybrook is again mentioned by Hale, in his "Trans-Alleghaney Pioneers,"  in connection with the retreat of the Indians with their prisoners, taken at Draper's Meadows, and the leaving of the head of Philip Barger at Lybrook's.  It may be mentioned in connection with  the remarkable escape and tramp of Mrs. Ingles from Big Bone Lick, in Kentucky, up the New River to Adam Harman's at the Gunpowder Spring, that she would not have stopped two miles below at Lybrook's;  she had been taken to Lybrook's by the Indians on their retreat, and there would seem to be no reason why she should not have sought shelter at Mr. Lybrook's.  The only reasonable conclusion is that either Lybrook had become fearful of the Indians and gone away to a place of greater safety, or that Mrs. Ingles, in her worn and enfeebled condition, had lost all knowledge of the locality of Lybrook's cabin, lost her bearings, and that in avoiding the high cliff of rocks jutting into the river just below the mouth of Sinking Creek, had been compelled to leave the river, keeping, however, the general course thereof along the hills, and in this way reached the river at a point along the hills, and in this way reached the river at a point above Lybrook's without knowing exactly where she was.  There is no   information obtainable that Mr. Lybrook had abandoned his settlement between the dates referred to;    in fact, there is no other mention of him until the year of 1774, though, beyond doubt, he had been visited by John Snidow, from Pennsylvania, in 1765, as Snidow's family settled near him in 1766.  The Lybrook-Chapman-Snidow Fort stood at the extreme upper end of what is known as the "Horse Shoe" farm, a short distance below the mouth of Sinking Creek.  In the early days of August, 1774, there had been made known to the settlers that Indians were prowling around.  John Chapman was away from home that day, Saturday, the 6th day of August, that information was conveyed to his family that Indians were in  the neighborhood.  Mrs. Chapman gathered her children and such of the household goods as they could carry, crossed the river and struck for the fort, and as they passed through the little bottom  above the mouth of Little Stoney Creek they found the fresh remains of a hog that had just been killed by the Indians;  this tended to hasten their pace and they reached the fort in safety.   Mr. Lybrook and an Irishman by the name of McGriff were cultivating a small crop of corn at the mouth of Sinking Creek, had erected a couple of cabins in which their respective families resided;   these men treated the statement that Indians were in the neighborhood as idle stories.  On the morning of Sunday, the 7th, some of the young people from the fort, among them the Snidows, went up to Philip Lytbrook's,   where during the day six Indians attacked the young people in and about the river,   and also Mr. Lybrook in    his little mill on the  Spring Branch.  They killed a young woman by the name of Scott, and five small children of Lybrook and Mrs. Snidow,wounded Mr. Lybrook in the arm, captured three small boys,   and ran a  foot race after John Lybrook, eleven years old, who escaped to his father's house.

Mr. Philip Lybrook had a number of children, but it is only proposed to follow John and his descendants.  Opposite this page is a photograph of Major Samuel E. Lybrook, a great grandson of the elder Philip, the settler, and grandson of John, who out ran the Indian.  John lived and grew to manhood and old age.  When he was about twenty-five years old he fell in love with Annie Chapman, daughter of John and Sallie Abbott Chapman.  Annie had another lover in the person of James French, son of Matthew French, whom she had agreed to marry;  the day of the wedding was fixed, the license procured and the wedding supper cooked, the minister present to perform the ceremony, all the invited guests had arrived, save one--and that was John Lybrook--who arrived, however, about dark.  He rode up, hitched his horse, walked in and made inquiry for Annie, and having found her in a room with her bridesmaids, inquired, "Annie are you ready?"  She replying in the affirmative, walked out with him, sprang on his horse behind him, and off they went for the home of John's father, leaving James weeping and disconsolate.  John seems to have had a license also, at any rate he captured Jimmy's girl, and married her, as the marriage bond shows under the name of Annie Chapman.  The marriage bond bears date January 11th, 1787, and the marriage bond authorizing her marriage to James French is dated January 1st, 1787.    John Lybrook and Annie, his wife, had a number of children, among them Philip, the first surveyor of Giles County, and a man of prominence in his day.  He married Miss Marrs and they had quite a large family of sons and daughters;  of his sons, David Johnston Lybrook went to Australia at an early day, dying there some five or more years past;  a son, Major Samuel E., who resides in Giles County, and who married miss Jennie Chapman;  a son, John, of Montgomery County, who is the father of John Barger Lybrook, of Washington, D. C., an employee in the office of the Inter-State Commerce Commission.

John Lybrook, who escaped from the Indian in 1774, by jumping a ravine twelve feet wide, became a famous hunter and brave, bold Indian fighter;  serving for several years in the various forts along the New River Valley frontier under Captain John Floyd, and Lieutenant Christian Snidow.  Mr. Lybrook lived to about the age of eighty years.

The M'Claughetys.

This family is of Scottish origin, and about 1688, with the large tide of emigration then moving from Scotland to Ireland, on account of religious persecution and other causes, emigrated to County Down, from whence sprang the American representatives of that family.  James McClaugherty, of County Down, Ireland, married Agnes McGarre, and came with his family to America in the year 1786, settling at Sweet Springs (now Monroe County, West Virginia).  In 1809 he started with his family to Tennessee, and on reaching New River found a heavy flood of water had carried away all the boats within reasonable reach, and he stopped at the new River, settling where the late James Floyd McClaugherty and family resided for many years. The sons of James McClaugherty and Agnes, his wife, were James, John and Hugh, and one daughter, Jane.  On May 8th, 1813, in crossing New River, Mr. McClaugherty, his wife, Agnes, and daughter Jane were drowned.

John, the son of James, married Miss Dingess, daughter of Peter Dingess, and they had a family of sons and daughters.  James, the son of James, married Miss Sallie Mullins, and they had sons, James, John and William, and daughters.

Captain John McClaugherty became a prominent figure in the affairs of Giles County, and was for long years a magistrate, Deputy Clerk, sheriff, and Deputy Sheriff;  lived a long life of usefulness, dying at the age of about ninety-three.    John, son of James McClaugherty, married Phoebe Hale, a daughter of Captain Edward Hale, and they had sons, John, Joseph H., Nelson H., Edward, who died in the Confederate military service;  D. W., and Robert C., and a daughter, who married Dr. Evan H. Brown;  another, who married W. F. Heptinstall;  another, who married Mr. Fillinger, and another, who married Charles A. Deaton.

James Floyd McClaugherty, son of Captain John, married Miss Martha Cunningham, and had sons, John, George and Robert, and a daughter, Sallie, who married George Walker;  John died young and unmarried.

Charles W., son of Captain John, married first, Miss Anne Kyle, second, Mrs. Shanklin;  by his first wife he had sons, Robert and J. Kyle;  Robert died young;  a daughter, Henrietta married Charles W. Walker, and Virginia married John Adair, of New River.

The M'Comases and Napiers.

In 1776 John McComas and his brother-in-law, Thomas H. Napier, came from western Maryland to the New River Valley.  McComas was of that bold, adventurous, Scotch-Irish stock that feared no danger, and was always anxious to get away from restraints of all kinds, and to be free and happy.  McComas and Napier first took up their abode at what is now known as Ripplemeade, but shortly removed to the territory where Pearisburg, Virginia, now stands, and as a protection against the Indians, built in connection with the Halls Fort Branch on the land lately owned by Mr. Charles D. French, and which is about three-fourths of a mile to the southeast of Pearisburg.  McComas very soon afterward entered and surveyed some lands around or near the location referred to;  and in 1782, the land where Judge Philip W. Strother now resides, or a part thereof, was taken up and surveyed by Moredock O. McKensey, and afterward conveyed to Thomas H. Napier.

The first or elder David Johnston died in 1786;  his will bears date in July of that year, and John McComas is one of the subscribing witnesses to that instrument.  John McComas and his wife had a considerable family of children;    among the sons were:  Elisha, David, Jesse, John, William and Moses, and there were several daughters.  John McComas, the elder, died in Giles County, Virginia.   Elisha McComas, son of the elder John, and who is referred to as General Elisha, obtained his title after he went to Cabell County, being commissioned a Brigadier General of militia.    He married in January, 1791, Annie French, daughter of Matthew, of Wolf Creek, and removed to Cabell County about 1809.  His brothers, or some of them, preceded him by seven or eight years, and settled on the Guyandotte and Mud River waters, then in Kanawha County, Cabell not being created until 1809.It will be noted that Elisha was there in 1810, either in Guyandotte or vicinity, for he is made, by the act of the Legislature creating that town, one of the trustees, as well as a trustee of Barboursville in 1813.  David McComas, son of the elder John, married Miss Bailey, a daughter  of the elder Richard.  David died early, leaving a widow and one son, James, the latter the ancestor of the Mercer McComas', viz:   Archibald, Eli and others.

General Elisha McComas and his wife had sons, David, William and James, and daughters, one of whom married John Shelton, and another married....... Keenan, from whom descended Patrick Keenan McComas, the eccentric lawyer of Logan County, West Virginia.

David, the son of General Elisha, married Cynthia French, daughter of Captain David and Mary Dingess French, and he became a distinguished Judge;  was a member of the General Court of Virginia;  Judge of the Kanawha Circuit Court, and was at one time a State Senator from the Kanawha District.  He was born about 1795 and died in Giles County, Virginia, in 1864.  He was a jolly man, full of wit and humor, but a most negligent man about his dress.  Some good stories of his life as a judge have been preserved, and are worth relating.  As has been said, he was Circuit Judge; his circuit, was a large one, and his mode of travel was on horseback.  Before he started on his circuit his wife made up and arranged his clothing for the trip, which often lasted for weeks, and on his return his wife would search his saddle bags for his soiled clothes, frequently finding none;  he had simply, by his forgetfulness, left them at his boarding houses.  On one occasion, when he was about to start off for his courts, his wife prepared for him and packed in his saddlebags a dozen new shirts, and enjoined upon him that he should exercise prudence in taking care of the same.  On his return, on examination by his wife of the saddlebags, she found not a single shirt, whereupon she said:  "Just as I expected, Mr. McComas, you have brought back no (Note: line appears to be missing from book.)stop throwing off shirts until he had unburdened himself of eleven.  His wife and himself, while he was Circuit Judge and lived in Charleston, made a visit to his relations in Cabell County, and after they had made the rounds, he remarked to his wife, "Well, we must go and see old brother.........." to which his wife inquiringly said, "Mr. McComas, isn't he in the poorhouse?"  "Yes,"  said the Judge, "but there is no difference between him and myself;  he is on the county and I am on the state."    While Judge McComas was in the Senate of Virginia, it is said that he made the first straight-out secession speech that up to that time had been made in Virginia.    He and his wife left no children.

William McComas, son of General Elisha, married Miss Ward, lived for some years at Malden, in Kanawha County, and while living there in 1832 was elected to the Congress of the United States.  He was a member of the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861.  William McComas and his wife had the following children:  Elisha W., Hamilton, William Wirt, Mat, and Benjamine Jefferson, and a daughter, Irene, who married Major McKendree.  Elisha W. was in the Virginia Convention of 1850-1, and was also Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, afterward dying at Fort Scott, Kansas.

Dr. William Wirt McComas married Sarah M. French, daughter of Captain Guy D., and Araminta Chapman French;  he was an eminent physician, and at the beginning of the Civil War raised in Giles County a company of artillery, which he led into the service, and at  the Battle of South Mills, North Carolina, April 19th, 1862, he was slain, leaving his widow and two small children, Guy F., and Minnie, surviving him.    The Napiers removed from Giles county to Cabell about the time of the emigration of the McComases.



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