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Hi, My name is Vickie and to tell you a little bit about myself, I was born and raised in Kentucky and the majority of my ancestors have been in Kentucky since the 1790’s. I have always loved history, a good mystery and puzzles and that is what Family History Research is all about. As a child we would take day trips on Saturdays and head down some dirt road looking for old cemeteries. A lot of the time we weren't looking for anyone in particular, we just like to read the epitaphs. We would have a picnic lunch packed and have lunch at whatever cemetery we were at. If the weather was bad my Dad and I would go to a court house and dig through old records in musty old basements looking for our ancestors. So as you can see I have had an interest in Family History for quite some time.View my complete profile

Monday, November 2, 2015

William Elder

Here comes my next ancestor for this week and he is my 5th great-grandfather, William Elder, who was born about 1748 in Spartanburg County, South Carolina the son of George Elder and Elizabeth Mayes.   William’s father, George Elder, 1729-1786, was from Banff, Scotland and his mother, Elizabeth Mayes, 1731-1780, was from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  This ancestor is from my Dad’s side of the family through his father, Aubrey David Beard.

From what I have found to date, William was their oldest child of their ten known children, with nine sons and one daughter.   William’s siblings were the following: David Elder, 1750-1795, married Margaret ????; Thomas Elder, 1752-before 1790, married Charlotte Hartley; John Elder, 1754-1799, married Mary Ann Morrow; James Elder, 1756-1817, married Margaret Ann ????; Samuel Elder, 1758-1797, married Cynthia Anne MacKelvain; Robert Elder, 1760-1821, married Sarah Morrow; Suzannah Elder, 1762-1850, married George Storey; Alexander Elder, 1764-after 1798 and Andrew Elder, 1766-before 1790.

William and his family were farmers for the most part, but they would also have needed to know how to hunt, fish, and fix anything and everything, since they were never really living where things were easily obtained.  I have yet to find a marriage date for William, but he soon met and married Margaret Storey, in approximately 1771.  Margaret Storey, 1754-before 1840, was also from Spartanburg County, South Carolina and was the daughter of George Storey and Nancy Cantor, who were both from Pennsylvania.  Margaret’s brother, George Storey, Jr. married William’s only sister, Suzannah Elder in about 1779, they eventually moved on to Southern Illinois where they died.

The Revolutionary War broke out just a few years after William and Margaret were married and William soon joined up and was a Captain by the end of the war.  Family stories say that William had two brothers who died as P.O.W's of the British during the Revolutionary War, and both died of malnutrition, and that his father, George may have also fought and died during the Revolutionary War.   I know the one brother may have been Thomas Elder and I believe the other was Andrew Elder, however, I have never found any record of an Andrew Elder fighting during the war.  The following shows the known service that six of these nine brothers had during the war.

 My William Elder, served as a private from December 15, 1780 to September 8, 1781; in Carter’s Company from April 25, 1781 to June 1, 1782 as a Captain of horse from December 10, 1781 to February 10, 1782 and as a Captain on foot from July 14 to August 24, 1782 under Colonel, Benjamin Roebuck. 
 James Elder, served in the 1st Spartan Regiment of Militia, from Spartanburg County, under Colonel, John Thomas, as a Captain. 

 Thomas Elder, served as a horseman in the militia under his brother, Captain, James Elder and Colonel, Benjamin Roebuck from December 15, 1780 to September 8, 1781.  He was a prisoner of war and died of malnutrition while on board a prison ship in Charleston Harbor.   

 John Elder, served in the militia under his brother, Captain, William Elder and Colonel, Benjamin Roebuck during 1782, in addition, he was under a Colonel Taylor. 
 Samuel Elder, served in the militia under Colonel, Benjamin Roebuck after the fall of Charleston.  

 Robert Elder, served as a horseman from December 15, 1780 to September 8, 1781 and from December 10, 1781 to February 10, 1782 under his brother, Captain, William Elder and Colonel, Benjamin Roebuck and was at the Battle of Kings Mountain and Cowpens.

I found the following picture at: https://jaysteeleblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/rev-war-militia-soldier.jpg and I think this could be what my ancestor and his brothers may have looked like during the war, I doubt they would have had fancy uniforms.

This next pictures depicts a battle scene in dense forest, which is what most of the battles the Elder brothers would have participate in probably would have looked like.  I found this picture at this link: http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com/.a/6a00e54ffe2ad38833013485320e52970c-400wi

William and Margaret had ten known children, all born in Spartanburg County, South Carolina before they moved west to Kentucky.  These ten children were the following: George Elder, 1772-1857, married Nancy Agnes Henry, 1785-1866, and they were my 4th great-grandparents; Mary Elder, 1775-????; Hannah Elder, 1778-before 1832, married David Hill; James Elder, 1781-1837, married Margaret Hamilton; Thomas Elder, 1783-before November 1843, married Catherine Armstrong; Sarah Elder, 1784-1849, married Samuel Jackson; William E. Elder, 1786-1875, married Anna Armstrong; Samuel Chalon Elder, 1790-1868, married Frances Fairl Stephenson; Elizabeth Elder, 1792-1807, married William Stephenson, Jr.; and Margaret Elder, 1794-before October 1834, she married her first cousin Samuel Elder, son of John Elder and Mary Ann Morrow.

After the war, seven of the children of George and Margaret Elder, including my William, came to Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap in about 1795, and William’s brother, David Elder, died on the way, and was buried on the side of the road, somewhere near the Gap, according to family stories.  One son, Samuel Elder, stayed in Spartanburg County, South Carolina where he died.  Some of this information came from old family records and the bible of John C. Elder, which was in the possession of Valanie Elder Clayton of Salem, Livingston County, Kentucky in 1978 when my Daddy, Frank Beard first saw it.   Can you imagine taking ten children, the youngest just a babe in arms and traveling for about 600 miles to an unknown area, worrying about Indians, highway men and the like?   William’s siblings and their families would have had children with them as well, I don’t know the exact count that went with them, but they would have had a fairly large company, which would have helped in safety at least.  

The following is a picture of the Cumberland Gap that I found online and used in another story I wrote earlier this year.  I have been in this area before and it is beautiful and still pretty rugged to this day.  What they went through and made it through in 1795, is probably unimaginable to us as we drive through that area today.

The families traveled on from the Gap to western Kentucky and Christian County and to the area which in 1798, became Livingston County and this area where they settled would in 1842 become Crittenden County, Kentucky the county I was born in 163 years later.  220 years since they arrived in Western Kentucky and there are still members of the Elder family living in Crittenden County, Kentucky to this day.  I was just home in August of this year and drove down the uncrowded back roads of Western Kentucky.  Here are a just couple of pictures that I took while I was there in Western Kentucky this year.  The first two are in Crittenden County and the other one is looking over at Cave-in-Rock, Illinois from the Crittenden County side of the Ohio River.

William Elder didn’t live long after coming to Kentucky, sometime around 1808 he died, but how or from what I do not know.   His wife, Margaret, continued on for a number of years and she died sometime after 1830, but before 1840, but again I do not know when for certain.  I also do not know where they are buried, but their son George, my direct line ancestor and his wife, Nancy, and some of the family are buried in the Old Marion Cemetery in Marion, Crittenden County, Kentucky.  Maybe that is where William and Margaret are too, I know there are a number of unmarked graves there.

The Elder family left a lasting legacy in Western Kentucky, William’s descendants and his brother’s descendants have been doctors, lawyers, preachers, singing evangelists, teachers, miners and farmers. They fought and died for our FREEDOMS, so that we could enjoy the life we have today.  Without their sacrifices none of us would be here, they were just your everyday walk of life people, but they are my people and I am proud to be one of their many descendants.


  1. Just read your article. Was so cool to see the name of my old home town and the pic from the KY side. Haven't been back there in years.
    Good article.

  2. Hello I'm a dependent of Samuel Elder and Ive been looking into the family history and I have the family Thuros on Scotland's north coast do you know why George emigrated to the US or when. I hope this reaches you. Thanks you

    1. Hi I am not sure why George Elder came to America, but I know he was here by at least 1747, but so far I have not found an actually immigration record.

  3. Fantastic story and extremely well researched and written.