Saturday, July 4, 2015

Daniel Mitchell, Patriot

Robert Mitchell (1714-1799) immigrated to Pequea, Pennsylvania, from Londonderry, Ireland. He later migrated to Bedford County, Virginia, where he became a prominent land owner. He and his wife, Mary Ennis, Enos, or Innis had several children, including a son named Daniel. Daniel's descent from Robert Mitchell is validated by Robert Mitchell's will, dated 23 April 1781 and proved on 25 Feb 1799:

"...To my son Daniel I give 100 acres of land where he now lives...Executrix and Executor: my wife, sons Daniel and Samuel."

Daniel married a woman named Margaret and together they had nine children. Daniel died intestate about 1821. In 1828 Daniel's son, Stephen, filed a bill of complaint in the Virginia Chancery Court against his widowed mother and others. In that bill of complaint he states his father died about 7 years ago. His father owned a parcel of land consisting of 133 acres in Bedford County near Otter and Falling creeks. The widow and nine children were to receive equal amounts of that land. However, Stephen believed sub-dividing the parcel into ten portions would devalue the land and wanted the court to order the sale of the property. Then the heirs would divide the cash.

Snippet of Virginia Chancery Court Cause No. 1831-019

In Stephen's initial bill of complaint eight of the ten heirs are named:
  • Margaret Mitchell, widow of said decedent and heir of Robert Mitchell, decedent
  • William Mitchell
  • Gabriel Mattox and Polly his wife late Polly Mitchell
  • James H. Mitchell
  • Jesse Mitchell
  • Daniel Mitchell
  • Samuel Mitchell
  • William Stephens and Matilda wife, late Matilda Mitchell
Only seven children are named in the initial bill of complaint. I do not know who the other two children may be. Perhaps they were minors? Perhaps they had already been given their portions? I know they were still living. It also appears that this bill of complaint supports the theory that Daniel Mitchell was the son of Robert Mitchell.

Snippet of Virginia Chancery Court Cause No. 1831-019

And that's the rub...

J. T. McAllister's Virginia Militia in the Revolutionary War: McAllister's Data and John H Gwathmey's Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, 1775-1783, Volumes I and II both list a Daniel Mitchell who took his oath of office on 24 May 1779 and served in the Virginia Militia as an ensign.

I went to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) website and searched their Genealogical Research System (GRS). An applicant had successfully proved that Daniel Mitchell served in the Revolutionary War and was Ancestor No. A080447. I purchased the application and later the supporting documentation.

It appears, if the application and supporting research are correct, that the Daniel Mitchell, who served as an Ensign in the Virginia Militia is not the son of Robert Mitchell. Instead, he was the son of Robert's brother, Daniel Mitchell, who likely emigrated from Ireland with brother Robert and migrated to Bedford County, Virginia at the same time.

This Daniel Mitchell had a son in about 1750 also named Daniel who married Judy Pruitt. Son Daniel's will was probated in 1822 in Shelby County, Kentucky. It is this Daniel Mitchell, who was the proven patriot and not my Daniel Mitchell.

Snippet from the DAR application of Rosemary Bradford Skirm,
descendant of Daniel Mitchell, Patriot

I still have lots to do to verify this is correct. I only have the Chancery Court Case as a source document for my Daniel Mitchell. So I need to collect a lot of offline records from Bedford County, if they exist, to learn more about him and read Robert Mitchell of Londonderry Ireland and Some of Descendants in the United States, which was compiled Stith Thompson and is available on!

I'm sure I'll discover more blogging fodder. But in the meantime, this Independence Day, I am celebrating the service of Ensign Daniel Mitchell (c1750-c1822) my four times great grand uncle.

As an aside, the Mitchell family immigrants and their early descendants have given me fits. They are all named Robert or Daniel and they always seemed to move west into the wilderness where records of any type were extremely rare.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: McDowell County Courthouse

The county seat of McDowell County is Welch, West Virginia. There you will find the county courthouse, which was designed by architect Frank Pierce Milburn and constructed between 1893 and 1894. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

McDowell County Courthouse circa 1940; from a booklet produced by
the McDowell County Chamber of Commerce

McDowell County Courthouse in 2015

Matewan Police Chief, Sid Hatfield, was assassinated on the courthouse steps on 1 August 1921 by Baldwin-Felts agents working for coal mine owners during the West Virginia Mine War in the 1920s.