Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Starting Point


My Dad could trace his family back to Thomas Scott who was a young soldier in the American Revolution.  He was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781.
My Dad’s story was that our Scott family was Scotch-Irish and that they came to Pennsylvania from Ulster County in Northern Ireland.  They moved down into Virginia and at the start of the Revolution the men “had to walk back over the mountains to join the fight”.  

Thomas Scott and other family members fought in the Revolution and were at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778. There is a family story that at one point Thomas, who was very young flag bearer, was in a unit which was to see very dangerous action.  One of his relatives arranged to exchange assignments with him, taking the more dangerous duty. 

Prior to the formal surrender of Cornwallis in 1781, the officer in command of Thomas’ unit informed Thomas (and probably others) that their dress was in such tatters that they would not be allowed to attend and witness the formal surrender of the British commander.  Thomas’ reply was that if he was dressed well enough to fight, he was dressed well enough to witness the surrender, and he watched it from the sidelines.

Following the Revolutionary War I lost track of Thomas until the 1790’s when he is in Mercer County Kentucky. There are records of a number of Scotts in early Mercer County but I cannot sort out their relationships. What I do know is his sister Margaret Scott was there also. In 1795 Margaret Scott (at age 19) married Benjamin Vanderslice and Thomas signed the license.  In 1798 Thomas married Sarah Hamilton in Mercer County.  Sarah’s Mother Mary and Brother John were there as well but it appears her Father was not.

Thomas Scott and Benjamin Vanderslice had worked together on a team of 26 who marked and cleared a road in Mercer County during 1793.  So it is safe to assume that Thomas and Margaret were there with family and Thomas was not present as a lone individual.  The close relationship between Thomas and Sarah (Hamilton) Scott, Benjamin and Margaret (Scott) Vanderslice, and Sarah’s Mother Mary Hamilton is evident because they all moved to Trigg/Christian County in southern Kentucky at the same time and owned land adjacent to each other.

My Dad grew up on a farm in West Texas.  He had a Great Uncle, Benjamin F Scott who never married and lived on a farm in Young County Texas with his 2 old maid sisters.  Dad spent summers with his Great Uncle and Aunts.  One of the Aunts was the family historian.  Dad and his Sister Bertice (Effie Albertice Scott Cleveland), who was almost a year and a half older, spent summer evenings hearing stories of the family. This was my first source of the various “Family Stories”.  During my pursuit of our family’s history I have corresponded with other descendants of Thomas Scott, whose families have passed forward the same stories, some with additional information.  

Thomas Scott was in his 50’s during the War of 1812.  He took his oldest son John Hamilton Scott along with him to the War, first to the Great Lakes, and then to New Orleans.  He named his last son Thomas Hazard Perry Scott, in honor of Oliver Hazard Perry, the hero of Lake Erie, who he admired greatly.

The Scotts moved from Mercer County to southern Kentucky, on the Tennessee border, then to Missouri for the years from 1836 to 1845, then back across the Mississippi to Hickman County Kentucky.  In 1855 and 1856 three of Thomas Scott’s sons moved their families to Texas and settled along the Brazos River. These were John Hamilton Scott, William Scott, and Thomas Hazard Perry Scott.  

Now, I will skip back to the era before the American Revolution.  Our “Scotts” were low land Scots from the border area between Scotland and Northern England.  They came from an area that was seldom totally peaceful.  During the 1600’s the large landholders were consolidating and wanted to be rid of many of the small farmsteads which had been held (rented) by families for generations.  They encouraged the small farmers to leave by increasing rents. At the same time the area of Northern Ireland which became Ulster Plantation was being developed and needed tough but stable farmers.  Our Scott families were part of the migration to Ulster Plantation in Northern Ireland during the 1600’s.

In the early 1700’s, the Penn brothers wanted to settle the area of Pennsylvania west of the Susquehanna River.  They needed a buffer to protect the settlers on the East Coast from the Indians and French.  The Penn Brothers  petitioned for colonists to come from Ulster Plantation.  A large group moved into York County (now York and Adams Counties), Pennsylvania.  I believe that our Scotts were among this group and migrated from Ireland to York County in 1729 or 1730.  Dad believed that they may have come  under contracts of indenture which required 5 to 7 years labor to pay for their passage.  At some point our Scotts (or at least some of them) moved down into Virginia. 

Thomas Scott (born about 1760 in either Pennsylvania or Virginia) served in Virginia units throughout the American Revolution. According to the tax list for York County for 1762, there were 9 Scott families in York County. The Heads of Household were Hugh, John, Joseph, Patrick, Richard, Robert, Samuel, Thomas, and “Widow” Scott.     

Our line of Scotts and related families tended to be very close knit and to usually travel and move in multi-family groups.  It should also be noted that some members of the families usually stayed behind, for whatever reason. I would guess the older family members and some of their children who would care for them were more comfortable staying than in venturing forth for better or cheaper land. So, I am sure we have many relatives still living in York and Adams Counties, Pennsylvania, the counties which were once Mercer and Lincoln Counties, Kentucky, Christian and Trigg Counties, Kentucky and the adjacent area of northern Tennessee, Hickman County, Kentucky, and of course, up and down the Brazos River in Texas. 

The Scotts were always literate. As well as farmers, many were preachers and school teachers.  Almost every generation of every branch of the family has teachers.  It’s in our DNA.

When oil was discovered on Benjamin F Scott’s farm, he purchased an automobile.  He never learned to drive, but his foreman was trained.  They set off together to visit Scott relatives in Kentucky.  While in Kentucky, they invited their Kentucky relations to come visit them in Texas, which they  later did.  I would love to locate the descendants of these family members.

An odd note on family patterns.  My Dad said that with the exception of his father, John Crawford Scott, (who was 27 when his first child was born), all of the male Scotts in our direct line were over 30 when they married and had children.  This is going back to the Revolution, and includes my Dad and me. So our average generation is 30 to 40 years. 

I estimate that my GGGGrandfather Thomas Scott was born between 1760 and 1764. 

There was a William Scott born in York County (PA) on 25 March 1765.
According to the “History of Trigg County Kentucky”, William Scott moved to Virginia at age 6, which would be about 1771.  There is a possibility that William and Thomas were brothers or cousins and may have been the sons or nephews of James and Janet Scott.  James and Janet moved from York County to Virginia in 1771. Thomas enlisted in the 10th Virginia Regiment on January 11, 1777, as a Private.  Between 1777 and 1779 James moved his family to the Harrodsburg area in Kentucky.  Harrodsburg was the first town settled in Kentucky and is in Mercer County.

Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky


In May 1774 Captain James Harrod’s company of 31 men came down the Monogahala and Ohio rivers to the mouth of a creek they called Landing run (later named Oregon), in the lower end of the future Mercer County; thence across to Salt river near McAfee’s station, and up the Salt river to Fountain Blue, and to the place where Harrodsburg would be established.  The names of only 21 of the 31 men are known, these include Thomas and James Harrod, James Brown, and Azariah Davis.  In 2 or 3 weeks (June 1774) they were followed by Issac Hite’s party of 11 men, which included a James Hamilton.  On 16 June 1774, while they were laying out the town of Harrods Town which became Harrodsburg, Daniel Boone and Michael Stoner arrived and warned of Indians.  On 10 July 1774 Indians attacked and killed Jared Cowan. Both parties left.

In March 1775 Harrodsburg was re-occupied.  Present were: Samuel Scott, five McAfees, Azariah Davis, James Brown, Issac Hite, John Cowan, Thomas Slaughter, Richard Benson (James Harrod’s scout, who named Benson Creek). In 1775 land was marked and “improved” by George Scott.  In order to file a land claim in Kentucky County of Virginia at that time it was required to “improve” a plot of land by starting a structure and planting a crop.

During the next 20 years there were probably 15 or 20 Scott families in the area.  They acted like they were related by owning farms close to each other, appearing on contracts and land sales together, probating wills, witnessing marriages, etc. Some of them, and the other families they appeared to have a connection with, have early York County roots.

Samuel Scott who was in Harrod’s party in 1775 established Scott’s Station and was appointed a Justice of the Peace of Mercer County when it was formed.  When he died in 1804 his will listed property he still owned in York County Pennsylvania and Grandchildren still residing there. I believe this Samuel Scott may have been an Uncle of my GGGGrandfather Thomas Scott. 

I have spent over 20 years researching my Scott ancestors and have drawers and boxes of documents and notes, much of it admittedly duplicating the same information, but from different sources or revealing more details. In my research I have tried to document the related lines of connected families in order to capture a more complete picture.  My purpose in this blog is to put this family history into a readable and understandable form, and to draw together the parallel family histories of the related families. 

Over the years I have worked with dozens of researchers who are probably related or who trace their lineage to a Scott ancestor who lived in the same place, at the same time as some of mine, so we are convinced we are somehow related, but not yet sure how.  Now, with DNA testing we have scientific proof that some of us are related, even if we are not yet sure how.   So, the second aim for this blog is to document the parallel family histories of certain Scott and related families in one place.  Hopefully this will help us to step further back in time and discover these elusive family links.

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