I'm hoping this information will help someone.It gives a good historical record of the families migration.
Most early colonists to America arrived at ports of the Northern English colonies including Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The forces that brought the early colonists of America into the South were multiple. Colonization in Pennsylvania increased dramatically during the early 1700’s. Areas around Philadelphia and the southern county of Chester were already heavily settled, so new colonists went into the western areas to find available and cheaper land. The western areas exposed the new settlers to Iroquois Indian raids as this band of Indians from New York frequently raided the area. The Iroquois traveled the Great Warrior Path. This trail traveled deep into the southern colonies and at points was merely a path. The extensive trail system of the Indians often originated from animal trails. The Eastern Bison roamed the area until hunted to extinction around 1810. Although it was a trading path, the Iroquois also used it to raid into Virginia and the Carolinas to attack the Catawba and Cherokee tribes living there. In 1570, the Iroquois created the League of Five Nations by joining the five major Iroquois tribes. The Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca numbered 5500 strong then and by 1700 they numbered 16,000. In 1716 Colonel Alexander Spotswood, Governor of Virginia sent an exploratory party to the Appalachian Mountain peaks. He claimed the Valley of Virginia for King George and in the process, found the Great Warrior Path. This trading path extended into the Carolinas to the south and northward into western Maryland and central Pennsylvania. In 1722, Spotswood and the Governors of Pennsylvania and New York met with the League of Five Nations. The Iroquois agreed to end fighting with Virginia tribes and to stay west and north of the Great Warrior Path. The skilled English made pacts to allow use of the trail and agreed not to settle west of the trail. This helped calm the American frontier while providing a buffer to the French presence in North America.
The Germans settled mainly in the original southern Pennsylvania County of Chester. Chester divided numerous times over the next century. Lancaster formed in 1729 from Chester. Lancaster then split off York in 1749 and Cumberland in 1750. Bedford then split from Cumberland in 1771. The Scotch-Irish settlers were forced into more western areas because the Germans were already established in these southern counties and Philadelphia was well populated at the time of their arrival. At the time of their arrivals, English Quakers dominated Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. By 1776, Germans would make up one-third and Scotch-Irish one-fourth of the population of Pennsylvania.
Migration along the Iroquois Indian paths accelerated as more colonists arrived. The Great Warrior Path led from Pennsylvania to Maryland. Pennsylvania became more crowded. Cheaper and more abundant lands drew Germans south and west. In 1732, Lord Baltimore of Maryland encouraged settlement by offering 200 free acres to males. The population of Maryland went from 31,470 males in 1733 to 130,000 by 1756. Frederick County, Maryland became heavily populated with Germans from southern Pennsylvania. The descendants of Johann Friederich Willheit went there. Many descendants here took the spelling of Willhide and Wilhide. The Tuscarora’s joined the League of Five Nations and this group of Six Nations met in 1744 with the Governors of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. The resulting Lancaster Treaty essentially removed all Indian claims to the Atlantic coastal plains, allowed the English use of the Great Warrior Path and aligned the Indians with the English against the French. This access to the Great Warrior Path coupled with French and Indian attacks in Pennsylvania sent a surge of settlers south along the road now referred to as the Great Valley Road. The Philadelphia Wagon Road provided a link to the Great Valley Road from Philadelphia through Lancaster and York Pennsylvania in the early 1740’s. When the 1744 treaty granted access to the Valley Road, the two roads joined and became known as the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road. The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road linked to the Upper Road at Salisbury, North Carolina. The Upper Road originated at Fredericksburg, Virginia on the King’s Highway. This linkage of roads funneled even more settlers into the Piedmont area of the South. The stages for the joining of the Wilhite and Espy families in America began with the southward migration along these Indian trails and British roads.
In the 1740’s, land grants were issued to Quakers in the Granville District of northern North Carolina. This brought a wave of settlers along with the Quakers. German Moravians settled in Salem, Bethabara and Bethania, North Carolina. The Upper Road ended at Big Lick (Roanoke) Virginia, but by the 1750’s extensions formed into North Carolina and to eastern Tennessee along the Wilderness Road. So many people arrived in the Piedmont area of North Carolina that Rowan County formed in 1753. After Rowan County formed in 1753 due to immigration along the Great Warrior Path, Mecklenburg County formed in 1768 with Charlotte as county seat. A large influx of Scotch-Irish followed with their Presbyterian desire to educate their youth. They established Queens College, only to have the English Privy Council disallow its charter in 1773. By 1775, anti-British sentiment coalesced with Mecklenburg County recognizing the Continental Congress and declaring the King’s and Parliament’s authority void. The dominance and influence of the region by the Scotch-Irish can be found in the use of the term Cohee for people living in the South Carolina back country. The term is said to be a corruption of the Scotch-Irish Presbyterian phrase “Quoth he”. Naming patterns in the Scotch-Irish dominated western frontiers of the South show the influence of Scotch Irish history. Many named their children William after the Scottish patriot William Wallace and Protestant William of Orange who defeated James II in the Revolution of 1688. So many bore the name William that they became known as hill Billy’s. The term hillbillies became identified with all inhabitants of the Appalachian areas of the South. Scottish independence leader Robert Bruce inspired many to be named after him. Both Robert and William are common names in our Espy and Wilhite ancestry.
The Great Warrior Path led into the Valley of Virginia. The northern end of this valley is the Shenandoah, while the southern end is the Tennessee. The Shenandoah is where Michael Wilheit’s family was established in the Germanna Colony. Soon, more family members, Wilhite and Espy, would join the flood of settlers further south from Pennsylvania. By 1765 most of the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road would accommodate horse drawn vehicles. It was still only a path once you approached Georgia. The fur-trading center of Augusta, Georgia was laid out in 1735 and became the southern end of the Wagon Road. The 1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix, New York allowed English settlement west to the Tennessee River in the area that would become Tennessee and Kentucky. Virginia had given land grants in their westernmost county for service during the French and Indian Wars of 1754-1763. These Watauga settlements existed in a mix of political and military conflict. The settlers believed they were in Virginia, surveys proved they were in Tennessee, and North Carolina claimed this Tennessee territory. The Cherokee were aided by the British and attacked the settlements trying to drive them back over the Appalachians. These attacks in Kentucky and Tennessee continued for several decades after 1776.
The first Presbyterian congregation in Philadelphia was established in 1695. The need for ministers was much greater than Scotland’s universities could supply. Since the Presbyterians believed their ministers needed seminary training, a legacy of education followed their movement in the American Colonies. As they tended to be the best educated of their communities, they taught the youth as part of their ministry. Wherever the Scotch-Irish moved, education followed. The first log college to train Scotch Irish youth enabling them to pursue seminary and thus provide ministers to the church was established in 1726 by Reverend William Tennent. He pastored at Neshaminy in Bucks County, Pennsylvania near the Great Warrior Path. The College of New Jersey (Princeton), Mary Baldwin in Virginia, Davidson in North Carolina, Franklin College (University of Georgia), Transylvania in Kentucky, George Peabody College for Teachers in Tennessee and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (1794) all began as part of this legacy of education. Washington College (Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia began in 1749 as a one room Presbyterian academy (Augusta Academy). In 1796, George Washington gave a fifty thousand-dollar bequest to the school.
The Espy’s in 1700’s Pennsylvania experienced waves of newcomers, the Whiskey Rebellion, and increasing pressures to settle further west and to travel south. The Whiskey Insurrection of Western Pennsylvania began in 1791. In 1794, President George Washington mobilized over 12,000 troops and sent them to the region under the command of General Harry “Lighthorse” Lee, Governor of Virginia. The President arrived on 9 Oct 1794 at Bedford, Pennsylvania. He made his headquarters at the largest home in town. It was a 1766 limestone building and home of Colonel David Espy and his wife. David Espy was the son of George and Jean Taylor Espy and grandson of Josiah and Priscilla Mitchell Espy. Many descendants of George and Jean Taylor Espy lived in the area, were members of Bethel Presbyterian Church and are buried in the church graveyard.
The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road led from Pennsylvania into Virginia and on into North Carolina. It was along this road that our Espy relatives traveled to North Carolina in the mid 1700’s. As the Revolutionary War broke out, the southern colonies of the Carolinas and Georgia remained heavily loyalist. Savannah fell to the British in 1778 followed by Charleston in 1780. The fortunes of the American cause in the Colonies was bleak as General Cornwallis headed inland from Charleston and took Camden, Ninety-Six, and Charlotte following his conquest of Charleston. While many Scotch-Irish tried to remain neutral, they increasingly were drawn into the conflict. One reason was that the Indians sided with the English, as there were numerous treaties between the English and Indians. Since the Scotch-Irish on the western frontiers often had conflicts with the Indians, this made them less inclined to side with the British. The resistance in the south was limited. Groups of militia would band together, but their efforts were not well coordinated. Elijah Clarke of Georgia, Francis Marion of South Carolina, and Thomas Sumter of South Carolina all carried out militia raids in the southern colonies. The massacre at Waxhaws of American Continental Troops, along with the loyalty oath helped change this neutral and lukewarm stance of the Scotch-Irish. Under orders from General Cornwallis, Colonel Cruger at Ninety-Six was to publish a proclamation requiring all to swear allegiance to the King and enlist in the royal militia.
A massacre of surrendered troops became a rallying cry for the American colonists. Cornwallis gave command of a British Legion to Banastre Tarleton. After Charleston surrendered to Cornwallis, Tarleton caught up with the Third Virginia Continentals at Waxhaws, South Carolina on 29 May 1780. These Continentals were the only American troops left in South Carolina and they were retreating to North Carolina. Tarleton's troops killed many of the Americans even after they had thrown down their guns and surrendered. This massacre of 113 Americans became known as “Tarleton’s quarter” and galvanized resentment to the British and earned him the nickname “Bloody Tarleton”. As the British consolidated their control over the Carolinas, the American resolve began to build. The fortunes of the colonists were helped when a large group of Scotch-Irish militia arrived from the Watauga settlements. One thousand mounted Watauga settlers listened to Presbyterian parson Samuel Doak preach before they crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains to aid the North Carolina forces in the crucial Battle at King’s Mountain. Samuel Doak graduated from Augusta Academy in Pennsylvania. The thousand Watauga forces swelled to 1400 when South and North Carolina units joined them. On 7 October, 1780 the American forces engaged the British at King’s Mountain. The British suffered a staggering defeat with 1100 men killed or captured. American victories at Cowpens in January, 1781, and a battle at Guilford Courthouse in March, 1781, followed. The battle at Guilford Courthouse was so costly to Cornwallis that he was forced to retreat to the coast. The British had lost the back country. It was French intervention in religious and political life that helped propel our Wilhite and Espy relatives to America. Now in a bit of irony, it would be a French fleet and troops that would secure victory of American forces over Cornwallis and the British troops at Yorktown in 1782.
Among the participants in the conflict in North Carolina were the Pennsylvania-born brothers Samuel, John, and James Espy. Their father, Captain Thomas Espy, was born in Northern Ireland; removed to Pennsylvania with his father, Samuel, and married in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. In 1770, Thomas and his brother, Robert Espy, removed to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Thomas was a gunsmith during the Revolutionary War. As a member of the 1775 Tryon (now Lincoln) County Committee of Public Safety, his concerns were protection from Indians. Beginning in the 1760’s, many attacks by Indians along the western frontier of the South occurred. Many were incited by the French in their campaign against the British during the French and Indian Wars of 1754-1763. In 1771, Thomas bought a plantation on the South Fork of the Catawba River at the mouth of Long Creek. This is located in present Gaston County, North Carolina, just northeast of Gastonia, not far from Charlotte and the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road and Upper Road. The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road provided a critical role in troop movements during the Revolutionary War.
Samuel Espy was a Captain in Graham’s Regiment serving at Cedar Spring and King’s Mountain. He was wounded in the battle at King’s Mountain and suffered a broken right arm. Samuel remained in North Carolina after the Revolutionary War and settled on Muddy Creek Fork of Buffalo Creek near Potts Creek, Lincoln (present Cleveland) County. Samuel died on Potts Creek in 1838 and is buried along with his wife at Long Creek Presbyterian Church near Bessemer, North Carolina.
John and his twin brother James both fought at King’s Mountain and Guilford Courthouse. In the Espey-Espy Genealogy book, James’s granddaughter, Mary Espy Fullton, provided a recollection of them. She recalled a story he told of the Revolutionary War when he and his twin brother were eating dinner. Word came that Tories were near. They fled capture by running in opposite directions. Both believed the other had been killed by Tory gunshot until reunited a year later. Thomas Espy sold his plantation in 1786 and moved to Wilkes (now Oglethorpe) County, Georgia. His son, Samuel, remained in North Carolina and operated a mill, while his sons John, James, and Joseph, along with his daughter, Martha, removed to Georgia. James operated a gristmill on Big Creek in Oglethorpe County and was an elder of Beth Salem Presbyterian Church. He died in Clarke County and is buried on the campus of the University of Georgia in the Jackson Street Cemetery (Old Athens Cemetery).
By 1790, both Wilhite’s and Espy’s had entered Georgia. Present day Oglethorpe County, Georgia was filled with colonists from Virginia and North Carolina. Georgia formed Wilkes County in 1777. In 1784, Georgia formed Washington and Franklin County. In 1784 a bill passed in Georgia offering land bounties to family heads who would settle the land. Settlers began streaming into Georgia. This lured both our Espy relatives from North Carolina and Pennsylvania and Wilhite relatives in Virginia and North Carolina. Among the Presbyterian congregations of Wilkes, Franklin, and Washington Counties along with their many divisions, you will find numerous family members. Wilkes County split off Elbert County in 1790 and Oglethorpe County in 1793. Franklin County split off Jackson County in 1796.
The first migration from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania began in 1785. Many of these Scotch-Irish sold their “worn out” land to incoming Germans. (During the Civil War invasions of Pennsylvania, they would be astonished at the lush fields being tended by the Germans on their “worn out” land.) The immigrants stopped in Rockbridge County, Virginia (site of Washington College) after hearing of hostile Indians in Georgia. This would be information the immigrants would take very seriously. Indians killed George Espy in 1782; and his brother, Robert Espy, also was killed at an unknown date. These were nephews of Captain Thomas Espy and cousins to his son John Espy, our ancestor. The immigrants continued in the fall of 1786 and settled in northern Wilkes County (now southern Madison County), Georgia, in the vicinity of New Hope Presbyterian Church. Nearly all the first settlers in what is now Madison County, Georgia, came from the Carlisle area of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Dabney Gholston who settled on Bluestone Creek in Wilkes (now Madison) County came to the area by 1800. His son John Gholston would marry Elizabeth Williford, daughter of William Williams Williford and Nancy Wilhite. Concord Presbyterian Church was located on Bluestone Creek. Settlements were also made around Crawford, Wilkes (now Oglethorpe) County, Georgia, in 1786 and 1787. Captain Thomas Espy sold his plantation in North Carolina in 1786, having lived there since 1770. He possibly joined this group of Pennsylvanians on their way to Georgia as he settled in present-day Oglethorpe County. Beth Salem Presbyterian Church formed about a half-mile south of Crawford. Hostile Creek Indian raids during the summer of 1787 sent many fleeing for refuge to South Carolina. Creek Indians burned Greensboro, Georgia, in 1787, killing and scalping a few settlers. In 1787 another group of mainly Scotch-Irish Presbyterians left Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for Wilkes County, Georgia. They stopped at Abbeville, South Carolina, after hearing of these Creek Indian raids on the Georgia frontier and talking to refugees from Georgia. After renting land and making a crop, they left in fall 1788 for the fork of the North and South Broad River in Wilkes (now Madison) County. A stone fort was built where the women and children stayed for protection from attacks. New Hope Presbyterian Church formed.
In 1787 and 1788, John Newton organized two congregations and was preaching at New Hope (8 miles east of Danielsville) and Beth Salem (1/2 mile south of Crawford) Presbyterian Churches. James Espy (Espey) and James Parke (James Parks on the historical marker) were among the first elders at Beth Salem. Most church members were natives of Pennsylvania. John Newton’s parents had immigrated to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina where he had grown up and was educated at Liberty Hall. No Presbytery existed west of the Savannah River, so the Presbytery of South Carolina supplied this area of Georgia. The first General Assembly in Georgia was created out of the old Synod of New York and Philadelphia in 1788. When it met in 1788, about 12 churches existed in Georgia. The Presbytery of South Carolina ordained and installed John Newton pastor of New Hope and Beth Salem in October 1788 creating the 14th and 15th Presbyterian Churches in Georgia.
1796 saw the formation of Hopewell Presbytery as the first Presbytery in Georgia. Its first meeting was held in 1797 at Liberty Church near Woodstock in Wilkes County, Georgia. Jackson County, Georgia formed in 1796 from Franklin County, Georgia. In 1796, Reverend John Newton organized several new churches. Among these Presbyterian Churches were Hebron in Franklin (now Banks) County, Concord in Franklin (now Hall) County, Bethsalem (now Sandy Creek) in Jackson County, Curry’s Creek (now Thyatira) in Jackson County, and Menham (now Mulberry) in Jackson County, Georgia. Bethsalem (Sandy Creek) members were mainly descendants and former members of New Hope Church. Through meetings of the Hopewell Presbytery and the travels of the few ministers to serve the churches, the Presbyterians of the area were knowledgeable of what was happening among the membership of the Presbytery.
These Georgia Presbyterians were a restless group. In 1783 at the close of the Revolutionary War, no Presbyterian Churches existed in Georgia north of Augusta. These Pennsylvania born Presbyterians frequently migrated to newly opened lands. When Jackson County opened in 1796, many members of Beth Salem and New Hope churches left to settle there. Included among those who left Beth Salem for Jackson County were John King; James and John Espie (Espy); Garret Parke; Samuel, Patrick, Joseph, and Thomas Shields; and Joseph Ratchford. Emigration from Beth Salem was especially heavy due to the prevalence of fatal sickness in the area just prior to 1800. Many people developed bilious and intermittent fevers. Reverend John Newton of Beth Salem Church was among the victims when he died in 1797. Reverend John Springer who preached at Providence, Smyrna, and Liberty Churches in Wilkes County died the following year. It is said that many of the descendants that moved to Franklin or Jackson County would not even travel to Oglethorpe, Wilkes, or Greene Counties in the summer to visit relatives for fear of “taking the fever and dying”. By the close of the 1700’s, this area of Georgia had a bad reputation and many people avoided it. In 1806 and 1807 an area west of the Oconee River opened to white settlers. The Oconee River was the western boundary of Oglethorpe County, Georgia. Allen Leeper, an elder at New Hope Church, bought land on the Duck River in Tennessee between 1808 and 1810. He led a large group of settlers from New Hope (in Madison County) and Sandy Creek (Bethsalem in Jackson County) Churches to Tennessee. William Montgomery pastored at New Hope as well as Siloam (Greensboro) and Little Britain (Richland Creek in present Elbert County). He and most of the church members left for middle Tennessee by 1810. New Hope went from a membership of 250 in 1805 to only 25 in 1810. Concord Church on Bluestone Creek nearly became extinct by 1817. It united with Pisgah Presbyterian Church located just south of Danielsville. The renamed church of Danielsville relocated to the city of Danielsville in Madison County. Coldwater Creek and Rocky Branch Churches in Elbert County became extinct.
The membership at New Hope declined so rapidly and severely that a group of “Bible Christians" as Campbellites were first called came into the area and decided to take New Hope Church from the Presbyterians and convert it to a Bible Christian Church. As the story goes as told by Reverend Groves H Cartledge, the daughter of a former elder of the church and her sister-in-law heard of this plan and tried to get the men of the church to act. The men failed to act, so these two women boarded up all windows and doors to the church and waited at the front doors for their preacher to arrive for Saturday and Sunday services. They confronted the preacher and essentially told him the church had been built by Presbyterians for a Presbyterian Church and he would have to walk over their dead bodies before the Bible Christians would use it. To say the least, the church remained Presbyterian and the Bible Christian movement of the area dissipated.
In 1822, Dr. Thomas Goulding came to Lexington, Oglethorpe County, Georgia. In 1823 he reorganized the remnants of Bethsalem Church as Lexington Church. Only one elder and a dozen members remained, our Espy relatives being among those who left for new lands. A Georgia Historical Marker at the site of the Lexington Church lists Joseph Espey and wife Mary as charter members of the reorganized church. His brothers John and James had moved out of the area. By 1820, Georgia had only 400 Presbyterian members and 7 ministers in Georgia outside of Savannah and Liberty County where Georgia’s first Presbyterian Church was established around 1755.
As was the custom, most Presbyterian ministers also taught school. Numerous Presbyterian ministers supplied Meson Academy in Lexington, Georgia. Dr. Thomas Goulding, pastor of Lexington Church, established the first Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Georgia and the South at Lexington in December 1828 with five students. In 1831 the Seminary moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where the first class graduated in 1832 from the Columbia Theological Seminary. In 1927 this Seminary with its origins so interwoven with the Pennsylvania Scotch-Irish, moved to Decatur, Georgia, and is still named Columbia Theological Seminary. In the 1840’s Reverend Henry Safford preached at New Hope Church and taught school at Cherokee Corner in Oglethorpe County. Hopewell Presbytery licensed Reverend Groves Cartledge to preach in 1846. The elders of Lexington Church invited him to take charge of their church and Academy. He spent 1847 and 1848 in this capacity at Lexington Church. While serving as a pastor at Jefferson and Thyatira Churches in Jackson County, he moved his family to Jefferson so they could attend the Martin Institute located there.
John Harrison set up the first Sabbath school at Hebron Church in 1819 in Franklin County. It became the model for others to follow. Harrison was born in Virginia and pastored Hawfields, Eno and Little River Churches in North Carolina before settling in 1818 on Curry’s Creek in Jackson County, Georgia. Whites had various classes and Negro slaves had separate classes. In this way, many slaves learned to read. In response to the Abolitionist movement, the Georgia Legislature passed a law forbidding teaching slaves to read.
Reverend Groves H Cartledge says that camp meetings originated in the Presbyterian revivals of early 1800 Tennessee that swept into Georgia. Presbyterian communion meetings would begin on Friday with a fast day and continue until Monday. So many came to the revivals, that some traveled one to three days to reach them. The custom was to stay at local houses, but during the revival these local houses filled with people. In response, families brought provisions and cloth tents to camp on the church grounds. This began the camp meeting that continued in Methodist church tradition.
An interesting custom of the time among Presbyterians was the use of tokens in sacraments. The first Presbyterians from Northern Ireland brought the custom of using small round or square bits (tokens) of pewter, tin or lead during the Lord’s Supper. Prior to the Lord’s Supper, the tokens would be distributed to those deemed worthy to participate in the Sacrament. When the elders passed the bread around, you had to show your token or deposit it on the plate in order to receive the bread. By the 1820’s this practice no longer existed in the church. It was also the custom of the day to have a drink to keep warm, to promote friendship and even when the preacher visited your house. When the preacher came to your house, you “set forth the decanter and glasses”. Many elders and influential members of the first Presbyterian Churches in Georgia owned and operated distilleries. The custom being to still the corn, feed the still slop to the hogs and drink and sell their whiskey.
The Scotch-Irish were a very cohesive group since the majority were Presbyterian. On the other hand, Germans came from many religious backgrounds including Evangelical Lutheran, Mennonite, Reformed, Moravian, and Brethren. By the early 1800’s many of our German Lutheran ancestors were leaving their churches for Presbyterian and Baptist congregations. An example of this is when a group of Germanna descendants left Hebron Lutheran Church for Boone County, Kentucky and formed Hopeful Lutheran Church. Soon after arriving, many at the “Dutch Meeting House” had left for Presbyterian and Baptist churches. This pattern would follow in Georgia as well. While many of our Espy relatives remained Presbyterian, most of our Wilhite relatives attended Baptist or Presbyterian churches.
By 1800, our Espy and Wilhite relatives were spreading out over the United States especially in the South. Our ancestor Samuel Espy, oldest son of Josiah and Priscilla Mitchell Espy, was born in Northern Ireland and came to Pennsylvania. No records of daughters exist, but we know of five sons. Of the five sons born in Northern Ireland, Samuel, James, and George remained in Pennsylvania; while Robert and our ancestor Thomas moved to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, in 1770. Robert’s family left Mecklenburg County and settled near Nashville, Tennessee, around 1780. Thomas and most of his family left for Georgia in 1786. Thomas’ children would spread throughout Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. His eldest son Samuel stayed in North Carolina, while Samuel’s children settled in Rutherford County, Tennessee; Cherokee County, Alabama; and Floyd County, Georgia. Thomas’ children James, John, Martha, and Joseph all came to northeast Georgia in the Wilkes County area.
Robert Espy is of particular interest to our families. It is from two daughters of his son, Calvin Jones Espy, that our Wilhite’s intermarried to form our immediate families. Robert was born in Georgia in 1795 and married in Jackson County. He married twice to sisters. These sisters were the children of John King who attended Beth Salem Presbyterian Church with his father John Espy. Robert’s daughter Martha married Robert Shields. They lived near Jefferson, Georgia, on the Shields Plantation with his brother. The Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public by appointment. Martha and her husband left for Calhoun County, Florida, and many descendants live in this area. Robert’s daughter, Louisa, married John Wier and lived on a plantation on the western outskirts of Athens, Georgia. Their home built around 1840 still stands on Mitchell Bridge Road and is known as the Wier-Kay House. Robert’s son, Ferdinand, married after the Civil War and lived in the Buford area of Gwinnett County. Several of Ferdinand’s children moved to South Georgia, with two sons in Montezuma and a daughter in Waycross.
The book History of Elbert County Georgia 1790-1935 (HECG) by John H. McIntosh outlines the original history of the area of Wilkes County in Georgia.(HECG pp. 10-12) Due to debts of Indians in upper Georgia, King George III of England directed the purchase of a tract of land from the Creek and Cherokee Indians. A treaty made at Augusta, Georgia on 1 July 1773 arranged for this purchase. This tract became known as the “Ceded Lands” and encompassed the present Georgia counties of Elbert, Wilkes, Hart, Oglethorpe, Lincoln, and portions of Greene, Talliaferro, and Madison. In 1777, this tract became known as Wilkes County.
In late 1773 the first settlement by Virginians arrived near the present town of Washington, Georgia. Settlers from North Carolina followed. A settlement began in Dartmouth (present Elbert County) in 1773, which would later become Petersburg. Fort James was erected to defend this settlement. The naturalist William Bartram traveled through the Ceded Lands and documented his visit to Fort James in spring 1776.
Lord George Godon brought a colony of Scots to the Ceded Lands as indentured servants and settled in the area of present day Elbert County. When the American Revolution began, Lord Godon sold the 5-year indentures and fled to England. Among the colonists were the names of McKee, McKay, and McKiver. McIntosh states that none of the families have descendants in the Elbert County at present (1940).
McIntosh further lists participants in the election for a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1795. (HECG pp. 73-74) Among those listed are Jno McKay, John McKee, John McKiver, Wm McKee and Andrew McKiver.
A compilation of newspaper articles by the Presbyterian minister Reverend Groves Harrison Cartledge was published as Historical Sketches, Presbyterian Churches and Early Settlers in Northeast Georgia. (HS) Rev. Cartledge was born 15 Feb 1820 near Danielsville in Madison County, Georgia and died 5 July 1899 in Franklin County, Georgia. He was licensed to preach in Oct 1846 by Hopewell Presbytery. He taught at Meson Academy in Lexington (Oglethorpe County) in 1847. He left in 1847 for Madison County and preached at New Hope church in Madison County from 1850-1851, became pastor at Hebron and New Lebanon (now Homer) in Banks county. Hebron originally organized by John Newton in 1796 in original Franklin County. New Hope organized in 1788 in original Wilkes, now Madison County. Rev. Cartledge organized Pleasant Hill in Elbert (now Hart) County and Harmony in Hart County. He also organized and supplied Maysville, Mt. Hermon and Carnesville churches.
The articles in this book give details about many of the congregations along with a historical perspective on their arrival and living conditions. He recounts that a group a Presbyterians left from the Carlisle area of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in 1785. They stopped in Rockbridge County, Virginia after hearing of hostile Indians and continued in the Fall 1786 to northern Wilkes County (now southern Madison), Georgia in the vicinity of soon to be New Hope church.
In 1787 another group of Scotch Irish Presbyterians left Cumberland County, Pennsylvania for Wilkes County. They stopped in Abbeville, South Carolina due to Indian raids in Georgia. They left in Fall 1788 after making crop and settled on the north and south Broad River in Wilkes (now Madison) County, Georgia. They built a stone fort “New Hope” where women and children stayed for protection. Cartledge says that almost all the settlers in what is now Madison County, Georgia came form the Carlisle area of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and were of Scotch Irish descent.
John Newton organized New Hope Church in 1787 and 1788 in Wilkes County (located 8 miles east of Danielsville, now Madison County, Georgia). Newton died in 1797 with William Montgomerty taking over as pastor. William Montgomery was pastor in 1795 of Siloam in Greensboro and Little Britain in Richland Creek. Around 1806, William Montgomery and most members of his three churches migrated West. [Cartledge notes that “the fever” scared people from Greene County, Georgia with many moving to Jackson County, Georgia as well as other places.] They went mainly to Middle Tennessee on the Duck River. Alan Leeper, an elder at New Hope bought land on the Duck River in Tennessee around 1808 and led a large group from New Hope church to Tennessee. The membership of New Hope Church tells the story of how large the migration was. The membership of New Hope Church in 1805 was 250. In 1810 only 25 to 30 members remained.
John Newton organized Hebron Church in 1796 in Franklin (now Banks) County. His brother Thomas Newton preached at Hebron Church. Most of the settlers in Franklin County, Georgia were from North and South Carolina with few being Presbyterian. They settled on the Hudson River and its tributaries including Grove Fork, Blacks Creek, Webbs Creek, Littles Creek, Crocketts Creek, and Nails Creek. In 1810, Carmel Church formed 10 to 15 miles above Hebron on the Upper Hudson River near Grove Fork and present day Homer as Hebron members moved into the area. Rev. Cartledge says that several families left New Hope Church in 1796 to go to Franklin County and were added to Hebron Church. Among these families leaving New Hope for Hebron Church were cousins Samuel McKee and John McEntire. Cartledge also mentions that they fought at Kings Mountain and Cowpens. (HSPC p 120) Most of these Hebron members migrated into Georgia after the Revolutionary War. In 1817, Reverand Thomas Newton left Hebron Church for Alabama.
[??This could be a reason why your Jacob McKee shows up in Alabama??]
Among the genealogies that can be abstracted from Rev. Cartledge’s notes are the following.
John Scott married the daughter of Andrew and Letty Miligan. Children listed include Captain W. W. Scott of Madison County and Elizabeth Mackie of Banks, wife of John Mackie. (HSPC p 60) John Scott settled along Bluestone Creek and attended Concord Church about 5-6 miles from Danielsville, Madison County, Georgia and served by John Newton. (HSPC p 85)
John McEntire who died in 1823 and Samuel Mackie were natives of Northern Ireland who migrated to Burke County, North Carolina. (Recall that Cartledge referred to John and Samuel as cousins). They fought with Col. and Major McDowell of North Carolina in the Revolutionary War. Samuel had brothers John and William. Samuel and his brothers, along with his father settled near Madison Springs, then around 1790 the children removed to Hebron Church area with many descendants in this church. Their “aged father” died shortly after they arrived in Georgia. It appears that only the children were alive when they went to Hebron Church. (HSPC p 80)
[This passage would explain your Revolutionary War grants to John and Samuel McKee]
In 1796, several families moved from New Hope church to Franklin County and were added to Hebron Church. Included in these families were Samuel McKee, Robert and William Fleming, and William Ash. Samuel McKee and his cousin John McEntire, natives of Ireland, fought at Kings Mountain and Cowpens. They emigrated from Burke County, North Carolina to the Broad River below Madison Springs and later to Franklin County. They were among the first elders at Hebron Church. (HSPC p 120)
[??Have you checked Burke County, NC before??]
William Fleming was an elder at Hebron Church. His brother Robert Fleming married Martha Mackie, sister to Elder Samuel Mackie. Martha Mackie Fleming died about 1853 in advanced age. Their sister Jane Fleming married William Ash. Jane Fleming Ash died in 1854. William Ash and William and Robert Fleming were born in Pennsylvania and removed to York County, South Carolina before the Revolutionary War and then to Franklin County, Georgia to Hebron Church. Their descendants removed from Hebron and “scattered from Lumpkin County, Georgia to the prairies of Texas”. (HSPC pp. 81-82) [Barbara LeFevre’s book lists Jane Fleming Ash dates as 1764-1859] Cartledge later states (HSPC p 90) that Mary Mackie and Martha Fleming died during the first 2-3 years of his ministry at Hebron Church in 1852.
The first house of worship built at Hebron was on a lot given by James McCarter. A deed of 21 Dec 1805 to the Trustees of Hebron is for 7 acres at a price of 10 cents witnessed by Samual Mackie, Franklin County Deed Book PP p 4. (HSPC p 93)
By 1851, only 39 white and 4 colored communicants were left at Hebron Church. This number included 9 very old who had not been to church for years. Mary Mackie and Martha Fleming listed among the very old. In 1852, Rev. Cartledge lived in Madison County near New Hope church and preached once a month at Hebron Church and visited New Lebanon(now Homer) 10 miles from Hebron. (HSPC p 104)
Summarizing Rev. Cartledge’s notes, the Mackie family arrived from Northern Ireland and settled in Burke County, North Carolina. This included an “aged father” and at least 3 sons, Samuel, William, and John along with a sister Martha. A cousin John McEntire also arrived with them. They removed to Georgia after the Revolutionary War and settled near Madison Springs where their father died shortly after arriving in Georgia. About 1790, the children removed to the Hebron Church area.
The book Early Settlers of Banks County Including Slaves by Barbara Le Fevre (ESBC) includes a section on Hebron Church. It states that Hebron Presbyterian Church was established by John Newton in 1796 and is one of the oldest in Banks County (originally Franklin). His brother Thomas Newton served as first pastor to the church. Charter elders were Samuel McKie, John McEntire, Thomas Mayes and William Fleming. William Fleming is brother of Robert Fleming who married Martha Mackie, sister to Samuel,William, and John Mackie. She says that there were two cemeteries, but that the original one has been destroyed. Rev. Groves Cartledge served as pastor from 1852 until his death in 1899. (ESBC p 123)
A listing of graves at Hebron includes these McKie relations (ESBC p 130):
Elizabeth McEntire died 1806 age 41
Jane McEntire 1834-1909
W C McEntire 1836-1886
In memory of Angela H McKie Aug 21st 1818 died April 3rd 1890
Andrew H McKie 1813-1890
Elizabeth McKie May 15th 1809-July 13th 1888 “At rest in Jesus”
Harriet McKie died 1859
John McKie 1804-1891
Martha M McKie 26th Dec 1824- Aug 6th 1886
Samuel McKie 1806-1874
Samuel McKie 1761 born in Ireland died 5 December 1845 a Revolutionary war soldier and wife Mary Clark McKie 1767-1852
Sarah McKie 1842-1927
Thomas McKie died 1796
***Could this Thomas McKie who died in 1796 be the “aged father” of Samuel, William, John and Martha who died shortly after arriving in Georgia?***
***Could Samuel McKie 1761-1845 be a brother to this Thomas McKie?***
***Could your Jacob descend from Samuel McKie and possibly be cousin to Samuel, William, John, and Martha?***
She lists colored members of the church as Hudson, Joice, Letha, Martha, and Nancy Mackie. (ESBC p 134)
She lists Robert Fleming as a member of Homer Presbyterian Church who died Thursday 5 Nov 1840, but not buried at the church. (ESBC p 164) This could be the husband of Martha Mackie.
Deeds for the area include the following.
In Wilkes County Deed Books A-VV 1784-1806 abstracted by Michal Martin Farmer the following names appear:
Book CC p 112 a deed proved by William McKey on 6 Jan 1787.
Book HH p 69 24 June 1790. Barnett to James McIntier of Burk Co. N.C. on the South Fork of Bluestone Creek, adjacent on the North with John Mackey and witnessed by John Mackey.
[Recall that Concord Presbyterian Church was located on Bluestone Creek and that Cartledge says most came from the Carlisle area of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania]
Book HH p 102 15 Feb 1789. Templeton to Yarborough of Roan Co. N.C. on Deep Creek witnessed by John Mackey.
Book MM p 327 10 Oct 1793. Ragan to Robert McKea on Beaverdam Creek witnessed by John McKea.
Book MM p 385 13 July 1793. Ragan to Phillips on Beaverdam Creek adjacent to McKea.
Book MM p 391,515,529,17 Feb, 14 July, 8 Aug 1795. Robert McKea listed as Justice of Peace.
Book NN p 3 27 March 1795. Robert McKea listed as Justice of Peace.
Book NN p 206, 11 Sep 1792. Henderson to Gray on Long Creek adjacent to McKee.
Book NN p 222, 12 Feb 1796. Robert McKea listed as Justice of Peace.
Book VV p 53, Will of Robert McKea written 20 May 1796 lists wife Agnes and is recorded 28 Nov 1804. This abstract includes reference to 2 tracts of land, one in Pesylvania (sic) and one in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Elbert County, Georgia Deed Books A-J, 1791-1806 abstracted by Michal Martin Farmer includes the following:
Book A p 28, 19 July 1789. Carr to White on Vans Creek adjacent to McKeen.
Book A p 55, 1 June 1791. McClesky to Hemphill of Burke Co, N. C. on South Fork of Bluestone Creek adjacent to Mackie, witnessed by Samuel and Thos Mackie.
***Evidence that Thomas is father of Samuel?***
Book A p 85, 16 Jan 1792. William McKeen of S. C. to Shakleford on the North Fork of Vanns Creek.
Book A p 184, 15 Feb 1792. Collins to Statham on Doves and Falling Creek adjacent to Mackey.
Book C p 104, 8 Jan 1796. Absalom Baker and wife Mary and John A Baker and Jennet to Archillus Jarrett on Fallin Creek adjacent to John Mackey.
****This possibly represents the father of Absolom Baker 28 Sept 1811-11 Aug 1876 who married Elizabeth Kennedy. Their daughter Elizabeth Clementine Baker would marry Peyton Andrew Peacock 5 Dec 1834-27 Nov 1881, grandson of John Peacock who migrated to Oglethorpe County, Georgia prior to 1800. This could represent the marriage of grandchildren of Presbyterian settlers to early Georgia. The Peacocks would later join the Wilhite family in marriage.****
***John Peacock’s daughter Nancy married Jacob McKee and gives further evidence that these families knew of each other through their Presbyterian Church connections***
Book D p 45 22 Aug 1794. Absalom Baker to John Mackee on Southwest Falling Creek witnessed by Thos B Scott and James Baker.
Book D p 128, 28 Mar 1797. John Mackee and Mary of Franklin Co. GA to Colbert on Southwest Falling Creek.
Book E p 12, 3 Jan 1798. Woods to Mann on Vanns Creek adjacent to McKeen.
Book G p 23, 4 Feb 1801. Fifa. Payton property sold to satisfy Fifa. John Mackey against William Payton.
***Speculation in the Peacock family is that John Peacock’s wife was a Payton, thus a reason a grandchild would use the name Peyton Andrew Peacock.***
Book H p 5, 5 Apr 1802. Statham to Howard on Doves and Fallen Creek adjacent Mackie.
Book H p 111 16 Dec 1801. Robert Fleming of Franklin to Barnabas Pace of Elbert on Millshole Creek adjacent Samuel McKey. Martha, wife relinquishes dower rights.
****This is most likely Martha Mackie, sister of Samuel McKey, who married Robert Fleming according to Rev. Cartledge.****
Book J p 67 21 Feb 1804. Estate of George Elliot witnessed by William McKie.
Book J p 111 11Jan 1804. Gardner to Williford witnessed by Samuel Mackee.
***Again recall that the Willifords are among the early settlers of Madison County that came from Pennsylvania. An aside is that my Wilhite family married into the Willifords.***
Elbert County, Georgia Deed Books K-R, 1806-1819 abstracted by Michal Martin Farmer includes:
Book K p 10 1 Jan 1806 Daniel Orr to Wm McKee on the South Fork of Broad River.
Book K p 239 9 Nov 1796. McClesky to Kidd for lot in Elberton adjacent Samuel McKey(Mackey).
Book M p 4 20 Dec 1806. Casey to Henry on North Fork of Shoal Creek, Broad River adjacent to Samuel Maki.
Book M p 82 25 Apr 1803. Turman to Skinner on Schulshole Creek adjacent McKey.
Book N p 49 10 Nov 1806. Suttles to Jarret originally sold by Absolom Baker to John McKee on Falling Creek.
Elbert County, Georgia Deed Books S-W, 1820-1835, abstracted by Michal Martin Farmer includes:
Book U p 135, 10 Mar 1826. Samuel McKee of Franklin Co. GA. to John Pace witnessed by John McKie and James Fleming.
So some final comments…..
Could it be possible that your Jacob McKee was born in South Carolina due to fleeing the frequent Indian raids of early settlements in Wilkes County, Georgia. Cartledge documents this as occurring. Wilkes County formed in 1777, my Peacock’s were in this area by 1790…..so there were probably some years the early settlers fled the area for protection.
According to Cartledge, Martha Mackie died in advanced age around 1853. If this meant she was 70+ years old, her birth would be about 1780. This would make her and her known siblings Samuel, William, and John born contemporary to your Jacob McKee born 1781…….So, could he be a sibling??? or possibly a cousin.
Among the possibilities are:
1-Jacob born 1781 is a sibling to Samuel, William, John, and Martha Mackie.You mention this possibility in your notes concerning the will of John McKee with executor Jacob McKee.
2-Jacob born 1781 is a cousin to Samuel, William, John and Martha Mackie.
3-The father of Samuel, William, John and Martha as well as your Jacob McKee could be Thomas McKie who died in 1796……or Jacobs father could be Samuel McKie born 1791, buried with wife Mary at Hebron. Samuel could not be the father of the other’s since Cartledge states that their father died just after arriving in Georgia (Samuel lived until 1845).
I think these families are part of your lineage, but not sure how they fit in exactly. The fact that they attended Hebron Church and that the pastor left in 1817 for Alabama would be even more evidence that some left for Alabama with him, thus your census records from there.
Cartledge should be a great source of knowledge since he preached at Hebron, knew some of the Mackie’s and would have been knowledgeable of its background.