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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.
Peck - Peters.

The Peck Family.

This family comes of German stock.  Jacob Peck, born in Germany, in 1696, came to America, first locating in Pennsylvania, and then removed to the Valley of Virginia and settled in the neighborhood of where the city of Staunton is now situated, prior to 1744.  He married, about the year last mentioned, Elizabeth, a daughter of the elder Benjamine Burden, who had come to America as the agent of Lord Fairfax to look after his large landed estate in the Northern Neck of Virginia.  Benjamine Burden, on his coming to the country, first visited the  Virginia  capitol at Williamsburg, where he met some of the sons of John Lewis, who had then recently located in the Valley, and he went with them to their home.  On a hunting expedition with the sons of Lewis he captured a white buffalo calf which he presented to Governor Gooch;  whereupon the Governor ordered certificate to be issued to Burden, authorizing him to locate 100,000 acres of land on the rivers James and Sherando, which he did, securing a large and valuable body of James River bottom lands, now in the County of Botetourt, then Orange.

Benjamine Burden, the elder, died about 1743, and by his will he gave the James River lands to his five daughters, one of whom was Elizabeth, who afterward became Mrs. Jacob Peck.  There was a long litigation over this land between Peck and wife and Harvey, a full history of which can be seen by reference to the reported case in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, 1st Munford's R. 518-28.  Jacob Peck and his wife died before the litigation ended, which was in 1810;  the suit was decided for them, and their children received the land, moved to it, and became citizens of Botetourt County.    The children of Jacob and Elizabeth Burden Peck were Jacob, John, Joseph and Hannah, the latter marrying Peter Holm.

This name Burden is frequently spoken of as Borden or Burton.  One of these three sons of Jacob Peck was the father of Benjamine Peck, who settled on the Catawba or Sinking Creek about 1785.  This Benjamine Peck, grandson of the first Jacob, and great-grandson of the elder Benjamine Burden, had sons John, Jacob, Benjamine and Joseph.  John married Elizabeth Snidow, a daughter of Colonel Christian Snidow.    Benjamine married Rebecca Snidow, also a daughter of Colonel Christian Snidow.   Jacob married Malinda Givens, of Botetourt.  This name Givens appears in the list of persons located between 1738-43, in Beverly Manor near Straunton.

John Peck and his wife, Elizabeth Snidow Peck, had the following sons:    William H., Christian L., Joseph A., Dr. Erastus W. and Charles D., and daughters:   Mary, who married Benjamine Burden Peck;  Margaret, who married Charles L. Pearis;  Clara, who married John H. Vawter;  Josephine, who married .......Phillips;  Ellen, who married Dr. Robert B. McNutt;  Martha, who married Judge John A. Kelley;  and another daughter, who married Edwin Amos.

William H. Peck and family removed to Logan County, West Virginia;    Joseph A. and family removed to Texas;  Christian L. died in Giles County, but left a family, among them a son, Charles Wesley, who died in the service of his country, and sons Erastus and John H., who were gallant Confederate soldiers, receiving in battle severe wounds, from which the former has never recovered.

Dr. Erastus Peck was thrice married and left some children, among them, Amos Peck, Miss Josie Peck and the wife of Walter V. Peck.  Charles D., who married Miss Thomas, had but one son who attained his majority, John K.;  a daughter, Lucretia, who married Dr. D. W. McClaugherty;  another, Maggie, who married Judge Hugh G. Woods;  another, Clara, who married J. Kyle McClaugherty;  another, Fannie, married John Adair, and Rachael married Mr. Fulton.

Benjamine Burden Peck and wife had six sons:  Pembroke P., Charles L., James H., Jacob A., Erastus H., and B. Wallace, the latter yielding up his life for his country in the battle of Gettysburg.  Mr. Phillips and family went to Alabama.    Judge John A. Kelley and family lived in Smyth County, Virginia.   Charles L. Pearis and wife had but one child, a daughter,Electra, who married Dr. Charles W. Pearis.   Dr. Robert B. McNutt and wife had three sons, viz:   John W., Joseph P., and Charles R.;  and daughters, Josie, who died young;   Mary, who married Colonel James B. Peck;  Neta, who married George B. Sinclair.

John H. Vawter and wife had several children;  among the sons are:    Charles E. and Lewis A., and daughters, Josephine, who married B. Frank Sweeney;   another who married Lewis Peck;  Virginia, who married William Farrier.   Benjamine Peck and his wife, Rebecca Snidow Peck, had four sons, viz:   William H., Christian S., Frank, John S. and Andrew J., and daughters, Eliza, who married James Sweeney;  Mary, who married William Farrier, and Margaret, who married John A. Calfee.

Jacob Peck and his wife, Malinda Givens Peck, had the following children, viz:  Benjamine Burden, who married Mary Peck;  William G., who died unmarried;    Elisha G., who married Margaret Peters;  Daniel R., who died unmarried;    George Harrison, who married Sarah J. Handley;  James Preston, who married Elizabeth Scott;  Jacob H., who married Ann Handley;  Patsey C., who married Archibald Pack;  Rhoda E., who married James McClaugherty;  Louisa S., who married Lewis Payne, and Rebecca, who married John A. Peters.

The Pearis Family.

The ancestors of this family were Huguenots, who fled from France, stopping temporarily in Barbadoes, thence about 1710, to South Carolina, locating on an island about five miles from Port Royal, to which they gave the name "Paris Island."  This name is sometimes spelled  "Pearris,"  again    "paris,"  and "Pearis" ;  the modern spelling being Pearis.  The settler was Alexander Pearis  (Parris), who became quite a distinguished man in the early days of the history of South Carolina.  Opposite this page is a photograph of the late Captain George W. Pearis, a grandson of the New River Settler, Colonel George Pearis.

Judge McCrady, in his History of South Carolina under the Proprietary Government, 1670-1719, gives considerable prominence to Colonel Alexander Pearis, whom he shows to have been Commissioner of Free Schools, Commissioner for Building Churches, Member of House of Commons, of which Colonel William Rhett was Speaker;  as a military officer and one of the judges to try pirates, and as commander of militia in the Revolution of 1719.  Colonel Alexander Pearis had a son, Alexander, who made some conveyance of property in 1722-26.  Alexander Pearis, Jr., had a son, John Alexander, who likewise had a son, John Alexander, as shown by his will probated August, 1752.    The last mentioned John Alexander had a son, Robert, who spelled his name as did his father, John Alexander "Pearis."  This Robert Pearis died about 1781;   he had a daughter, Malinda, who married Samuel Pepper, who removed to the New River Valley prior to 1770,  and located at the place where, about 1780, he established a ferry, and which place has since been known as Peppers.  His two brothers-in-law, George and Robert Alexander Pearis, sons of the preceding Robert, came with him, or about the same time.  At the date of the coming of Pepper and the Pearises, in fact, before that date, there lived in the neighborhood where Pepper located, a gentleman by the name of Joseph Howe, who had some pretty daughters, and it did not take long for these young Huguenots to fall in love with these girls, at least with two of them.  An examination of the Pearis Bible discloses that George Paris was born February 16th, 1746, and was married to Eleanor Howe February 26th, 1771.  Robert Alexander Pearis was probably two years younger than his brother George.  He married also a daughter of Joseph Howe, and about 1790 removed with his family to Kentucky and settled in what is now Bourbon County, and from whom it is said the town of Paris, in that county, is named.   He had a son who in the early history of that state was a member of its Legislature.  George Pearis remained in the vicinity of Pepper's Ferry until the spring of 1782;  prior to this time he had been made a Captain of one of the militia companies of the County of Montgomery.

On the advance of the British Army into the Carolinas, in the fall of 1780, there was a Tory uprising in Surry County, North Carolina, of such formidable proportion as to impel General Martin Armstrong, commanding that military district, to call on Major Joseph Cloyd, of the Montgomery County Militia, to aid in its suppression.    About the 1st day of October, 1780, Major Cloyd with three companies of mounted men, one of which was commanded by Captain George Pearis, marched to the State of North Carolina, where he was joined by some of  the militia of that state, augmenting his force to about 160 men, with which he, on the 14th day of the month, attacked the Tories at Shallow Ford of the Yadkin, defeating them with a loss of fifteen killed and a number wounded;  Major Cloyd had one killed and a few wounded, among them Captain Pearis, severely, through the shoulder.  This fight cleared the way for the crossing of General Green's Army at this ford, which the Tories were seeking to obstruct.    Captain Pearis returned home wounded, and in addition to his suffering from his wound had the misfortune to lose his wife by death in a few days after his return, she dying on November 14th.  Captain Pearis' wound disabled him from performing further military service, and having purchased from Captain William Ingles, about the year of 1779, for seventy pounds sterling (about $350.00), the tract of 204 acres of land on New river--whereon is now situated Pearisburg Station on the line of the Norfolk & Western Railway, and which land was known for years as the Hale and Charleton tract--he, in the spring of 1782, removed thereto, erecting his dwelling house at a point nearly due south of the residence of Mr. Edward C. Hale, and a little to the southeast of where the road from Mr. Hale's house unites with the turnpike.  Two or three years after Captain Pearis made his location, he had a ferry established across the New River, and kept a small stock of goods, and later kept public entertainment.  On October 5th, 1784, he married Rebecca Clay, daughter of Mitchell Clay.  The children of Colonel George Pearis and his wife, Rebecca Clay Pearis, were:  George N., Robert Alexander, Samuel Pepper, Charles Lewis;  their daughters, Rebecca, Julia, Rhoda, Sallie and Eleanor.

Colonel George N. Pearis married Elizabeth Howe, daughter of Major Daniel Howe;  Robert Alexander Pearis married Miss Arbuckle, of Greenbrier County;    Samuel Pepper Pearis married Rebecca Chapman, daughter of Isaac and Elian Johnston Chapman;  Charles Lewis Pearis married Margaret Peck, daughter of John and Elizabeth Snidow Peck;  Rebecca married John Brown, they went to Texas about 1836, leaving a son, George Pearis Brown, who lived for a number of years in Mercer County;   Julia married Colonel Garland Gerald;  Rhoda married Colonel John B. George;   Sallie married Baldwin L. Sisson, and Eleanor married Captain Thomas J. George.

The children of Colonel George N. Pearis and his wife, Elizabeth Howe Pearis, were:  Captain George W., who never married, died in 1898 at the age of nearly eighty-nine years;  Colonel Daniel Howe, who married Louisa A. Johnston;    Rebecca, who married George D. Hoge;  Nancy, who married Archer Edgar;    Ardelia, who married Daniel R. Cecil, and Elizabeth, who married Benjamin White.   Robert Alexander Pearis and his wife had no children, and after the death of said Robert Alexander, his widow married Colonel McClung.

The children of Colonel Garland Gerald and Julia Pearis George were:    George Pearis George, who married Sarah A. Davidson;  Jane, who married Judge Sterling F. Watts.  The names of the children of Captain Thomas J. George and wife are as follows, Viz:  A. P. G. George, W.W. George, Robert and John;  the daughters, Larissa, who married Jacob A. Peck;  Matilda, who married a Mr. Austin, and Rebecca, who married George W. Jarrell.

Charles Lewis Pearis and his wife, Margaret Peck Pearis, had but one child, a daughter, Electra, who married Dr. Charles W. Pearis, and they had no children.

As already stated, John Brown and family went to Texas prior to 1836;    some of his older sons were soldiers in the Texan Army.  Brown settled in that part of the state that became Collin County.  George Pearis Brown, the son of John, remained in Virginia;  he married a Miss Mahood, a sister of the late Judge Alexander Mahood, and he and his wife left numerous descendants, among them the wife of Mr. Robert Sanders, the wife of Edward A. Oney, the wife of M. W. Winfree, a son, Cornelius, who was killed on the retreat for the Confederates from the battlefield at Clark's house, May 1st, 1862.

The elder Colonel George Pearis, the settler, was long a magistrate of Montgomery and Giles Counties, and sat in the courts of both counties, and was for a term the Presiding Magistrate of the latter county.  The first court of the County of Giles was held in a house belonging to him, and the land for the county buildings and town was given by him and the town of Pearisburg took its name from him.  He died on November 4th, 1810, and his ashes repose in the burying ground on the farm on which he died, on the little hill just southwest of Pearisburg Station.  His widow married Philip Peters and she died April 15th, 1844.

The Peters Family.

John and Christian Peters were of a German family of that name, who had located in the Valley of Virginia shortly after 1732.  The place of the settlement was in the now County of Rockingham.  The inscription on the tombstone of Christian Peters shows that he was born October 16th, 1760, and died October, 1837;  it is possible that John was older.  In 1781 the British Army under Lord Cornwallis invaded Virginia, finally fixing its base of operation at Yorktown.  In May of the year mentioned, the Governor of Virginia called out the militia of the state, placing them under the command of General Nelson, who joined and became a part of General LaFayette's Corps, then operating against the Army of Cornwallis.  John and Christian Peters obeyed the call of the Governor and served through the campaign, and were at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, on October 19th;  the militia was then disbanded and returned to their homes.  The war, now regarded as ended, and the services of the militia no longer needed, John and Christian Peters, with their families, together with their brother-in-law, Charles Walker, in the spring of 1782, left their Valley homes, crossed the Alleghanies, and located in the New River Valley;  John, on the farm on which Mr. Charles D. French now resides, and Christian where the village of Peterstown , named from him, is now situated.  The two or three years immediately following the surrender of Cornwallis brought over the Alleghanies swarms of people, and while many of them went to Kentucky, a goodly number halted in the New River Valley.

John Peters married Miss Simms, of that part of Rockingham that afterwards became Madison County.  Christian Peters married Miss Katharine Belcher, of Rockingham, who spoke the German language, and kept in her house her German Bible.

The following are the names of the children of John Peters and wife:    Elijah, William, John, Philip, Christian;  and daughters, one who married Henry Bailey;  and Frances, who married Captain Christianos H. A. Walker, son of Charles, heretofore mentioned.

The families of Conrad Peters, Captain John Peters, of Peterstown, and that of the late James M. Byrnside are descendants of Christian Peters.

John Peters, Jr., the son of the settler, and who married Sallie Clay, daughter of the elder Mitchell, was the Captain of a company in the war with Great Britain of 1812;  was long a Magistrate, and represented Giles County in the Legislature.    The names of the sons of Captain John Peters and his wife, Sallie Clay Peters, are as follows:  Oliver C. Peters, long an honored citizen of Giles County, dying at a ripe old age;  Andrew J. Peters, Thompson H. Peters, William P. Peters, Jacob Peters, Augustus C. Peters;  and two daughters by the second marriage, one of whom married Andrew Johnston, and Miss Jane, who never married.  The grandsons and descendants of Captain John Peters were among the best, truest and bravest Confederate soldiers that fought for the South, among them James M. Peters, William D. Peters, John D. Peters and William H. Peters.



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