Old Land Suit Reads Like Ancient History

     An old land suit of Simon Cockrell vs John Duncan, filed in the Superior Court of Augusta County, Virginia, the 18th of May, 1796, with its accompanying depositions, reads like a well written page of history of the very first settlers of the Dungannon area, first known as Hunter's Ford, then Osborne's Ford and finally, but much later as Dungannon.
     In 1770, William Herbert made a settlement on the waste and unappropriated land on Cubb Creek, (then Botetourt, now Scott County) near an island in Clinch River. Herbert brought out a stock of cattle to graze on the land and Robert Elsom (Overseer for Herbert) and his father-in-law, William Hays, came along to tend the stock and improve the land. Hays and Elsom built a cabin or cabins on the land, near a spring that ran out of a cave, and lived upon the land until Robert Elsom was killed by Indians in 1776, a fact heretofore unreported by any historian writing of the area.
     William Herbert never actually lived upon this land, residing on a plantation known as Poplar Camp, near Herbert's Ferry on New River in what is now Wythe County, where he died in 1776, leaving the land on Cubb Creek (Scott County) to his son, William Herbert, Jr., who in turn sold the land to Simon Cockrell, after he (Herbert) had received a patent for it from the State in 1776.
     In the year 1773, Raleigh Duncan made a settlement on the same land and also received in 1786, a patent for his settlement right of 1773. Raleigh and his brother, John Duncan, were to go halves in the plantation, but John was killed by the Indians at Moore's Fort, on September 29, 1774, by the Indian Logan and his warriors. Peter Hutcheson, another pioneer settler, said he heard an argument in 1775 between Raleigh, and the widow of John Duncan, over the plantation at the ford of the river (Clinch), where they both lived at the time and Raleigh said he would not dispute with her, but would give it up and take his chances on the place down the river (now in dispute).
     Thomas Porter stated: "That in 1775 he lived at the house of Hays and Elsom, and made a crop on Herbert's land on the north side of Clinch River at a spring running out of a cave. In the same year he helped Raleigh Duncan to raise a house on the bank of the river on said land, a small distance above the island, and that Robert Elsom was much distressed at Duncan's building his house where he did."
     This land descended to John Duncan, who was a son of Raleigh Duncan, and it was between this John Duncan and Simon Cockrell that the lawsuit took place.
     An interesting sidelight to this case are the statements and depositions taken from the witnesses on both sides. John Fugate stated on the 30th of June, 1798, "that James McCarthy told him he sold the land to Richard Stanton, and that Stanton sold to William Herbert (Sr.) It was the first piece of land McCarthy took up in the country; the land McCarthy's "corn-right" was laid on McCarthy bought of David Cowan." All I know of James McCarthy was that he was stationed at Glade Hollow Fort early in 1774, and was also with Col. William Christian on his expedition against the Cherokees in the fall of 1774.
     Richard Stanton who owned 73 acres of land on the north side of Clinch River and was the same for whom Stanton's Creek was named. He had a wife, Charity, who seems to have died before he came out to the Dungannon settlement, and he was also apparently childless. He died sometime between 15 January, 1781, when he witnessed the will of Susanna Carter, and 21 March, 1782, when his estate was appraised. Richard was a son of Thomas Stanton and lived with, or near, his father in the 1740s and 1750s at Poplar Camp which land, interestingly enough, he sold on the 28th of March, 1767, to William Herbert who owned the land at Dungannon. His father, Thomas, and a brother moved to Orange County, North Carolina, after the French and Indian War. Richard Stanton served in the French and Indian War as a Sergeant, and a slip of paper in the handwriting of General William Campbell, dated 22 October, 1778, requests that Stanton's pay as Adjutant to Col. Campbell be paid to the Sheriff of Washington County, for William Bryan's son, David, "now in my possession." Just what relation David Bryan was to Stanton is unknown. Richard also served in the early days of Dunmore's War, as a Scout, along with Edward Sharpe, Ephraim Drake and William Harrold, the latter three well known as long hunters.
     Benjamin Nicholson, in a deposition taken in Clarke County, Kentucky, 16th of May, 1798, stated: "That in 1775 he knew Raleigh Duncan to purchase the tract from James Naule." All I know of James Naule was that he was dead before 29th of April, 1777, when the Washington County Court appointed Joseph Blackmore and others to appraise his estate and James Green was appointed Administrator, which may, or may not, suggest some connection with James Green, who was a pioneer settler of the Fort Blackmore section.     
     One could almost write a history of Dungannon with the Nicholson family alone, who as may be seen from the foregoing, left the area and moved on to Kentucky. Of the Nicholson family there was Benjamin, John (exempted from tax May 10, 1786, because of old age), Peter and Thomas. Benjamin, Peter and Thomas Nicholson may have been sons of the aged John.
     Thomas Nicholson owned 425 acres of land on Clinch River, settled in 1773, and Benjamin owned 450 acres, settled in 1774. Benjamin Nicholson was married to Jemima Darnell, sister of David Darnell. Alexander Ritchie, Jr., who lived in this same area makes an interesting statement in his pension claim. He was born in Prince Edward County in 1762, and speaking of the various forts in which he served as a "chain guard" for Russell County during the Revolution he mentions these from Fort Blackmore to Martin's Station, about 20 miles from Cumberland Gap, among which was "Osman's Fort" (undoubtedly another spelling of Osborne). He is also backed up by a statement of Elisha Wallen, born 1763, who mentions the same Osman's Fort, as does Charles Kilgore, who was born in Orange County, North Carolina in 1763, and died in Davis County, Indiana, 20 November, 1844, who says: "In the summer of 1779 he volunteered again for two months under Captain John Snoddy and Lt. Cowan for the purpose of guarding Osman's Fort on Clynch River in said county of Washington. He remained in said fort for three months with the said company, guarding the same."
     Scott County Deed book 4, page 553, 9 October, 1829, reads: "a certain tract or parcel of land lying and being in Scott County on the north side of Clinch River, it being part of the same bottom that joins Bustar's Shoals, opposite a place called 'Nicholson's Fort.' John Bustar lived on Sinking Creek. Since the Nicholson land was sold to William McClain (his "fish-trap" is mentioned by Elizabeth Osborne Livingston in 1794 when Benge captured her), and one William Osborne bought the Ritchie land, (360 acres on Clinch River), it may be that Ritchie's Fort, Osman's Fort and Nicholson's Fort were one and the same. The Ritchie land is described in Russell County deeds as "one certain tract or parcel of land known by the name of Ritchie's Fort, lying and being in the County of Russell on the south side of Clinch River and both  sides of Ritchie's Creek." Since the land of Nicholson was on both sides of the river and adjacent to the Ritchie-Osborne land it seems there was a fort (evidenced by troops stationed at Osman's Fort), at Dungannon, unknown to past historians, known possibly by all three names, or Nicholson's and Ritchie's may have been "fort houses" for immediate family protection as was that of Patrick Porter known as Porter's Fort.
     In this same case Samuel Stallard is mentioned as owning eleven acres of land "on the island." That Samuel Stallard moved into the area from Culpeper County, Virginia, is proven by the entry of Raleigh Stallard's death in the Scott County Death Register, with his place of birth given as Culpeper County. Samuel Stallard was married to Jaelia Duncan, sister of Raleigh and John Duncan, the latter slain by Indians at Moore's Fort. Among the children of Samuel and Jaelia Duncan Stallard were: Raleigh Stallard (1771-1856) and wife Elizabeth, a daughter of Peter and Susanna Hutcheson. Walter Stallard and wife, Elizabeth. He was probably married to a second wife named Mary. James Stallard and wife, Sally. Frances Stallard and husband, James Watson. Ruth Stallard and husband, William Fletcher. Mary Stallard and husband, Edly Murphy and Sarah Stallard and husband, William Addington. Samuel Stallard, father of the above children died in 1816.
     Of old Peter Hutcheson I know very little. R. M. Addington in his "History of Scott County," says: "The first settlement in the county was made by Patrick Porter, his son, Samuel; Captain John Montgomery; Raleigh Stallard and _____ Hutcheson." The wife of Peter Hutcheson was (as some descendants say) Susanna Green. She may have been a sister to the pioneer James Green who settled at Ft. Blackmore. Among his children were:
Susanna who married Richard Wells and lived in Floyd County, Kentucky; Patsy who married Samuel Porter (perhaps his second wife, for John Alley says in his pension statement that Samuel Porter was his brother-in-law or they might perhaps have married Hutcheson sisters). Peter Hutcheson, Jr., James Hutcheson; Nancy Hutcheson who married a Powers, Elizabeth "Polly" Hutcheson who married Raleigh Stallard and Hannah Hutcheson who married William Roberson.


 
 
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