The Families of "Revolutionary" John

Overview of Randolph Co., West Virginia and migrations


Randolph Co., WV

With Links to a 1880 Census Study

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Other Census data: [1850 Census]


RANDOLPH CO: [organized in 1787 from Harrison County] is the largest County in west Virginia. A study of the Chenoweth Family would not be complete without some detail on this area. It lies in the Allegheny Mountains, just at the point where the eastern neck of West Virginia broadens into the fuller state. The Tygart River valley runs down its center. Settlement began in earnest in the 1770s and a series of 6 forts were erected along the Tygart River for protection from frequent Indian raids.

John Chenoweth(4), known by his descendants as "Revolutionary John", settled in this area over 200 years ago, in 1795, and many of his descendants still live there today. John was the eldest son of the eldest son of the eldest son of John Chenoweth and Mary Calvert, hence his line represents the oldest part of the family. Seven of his 10 children grew to adulthood and founded large families that stayed in the area. Only Robert, the oldest, and Gabriel moved on, but many of their children did not. The known descendants and spouses of John(4) are the largest of any 4th generation Chenoweth numbering over 11,240 descendants with 5,900 spouses, a total of 14% of the family knowledge (based on Sept 22, 2003 cutoff).

  1. ROBERT T. CHENOWETH, b. April 19, 1782, Hampshire Co., VA (now WV m. (1) RACHEL STALNAKER, and m. (2) EDITH SKIDMORE
  2. WILLIAM PUGH CHENOWETH, b. February 02, 1784, Hampshire Co., VA (now WV); m. LYDIA KITTLE
  3. MARY M. CHENOWETH, b. October 22, 1785, Hampshire Co., VA (now WV); m. JOHN WHITE STALNAKER
  4. JOHN I. CHENOWETH, b. February 13, 1790, Hampshire Co., VA (now WV); m. MARY JANE SKIDMORE
  5. JEHU CHENOWETH, b. March 29, 1792, Hampshire Co., VA (now WV); m. (1) ELEANOR "NELLEY" SKIDMORE, and (2) MARY JANE (HAMILTON) PETEROSE
  6. GABRIEL CHENOWETH, b. May 28, 1794, Randolph Co., VA (now WV); m. ELIZABETH CURRENCE,
  7. ELEANOR "NELLIE" CHENOWETH, b. June 07, 1796, Randolph Co., VA (now WV); m. JAMES MONTGOMERY HART

"Revolutionary John", had 81 grandchildren. Between his children and grandchildren, in the 5th and 6th generation the Chenoweth family allied with the following families in Randolph County:

Brown, Caplinger (twice), Coberly (twice), Collette (twice), Corrick, Daniels (3 times), Devine, Ferris, Findley, Foggy, Goddin, Harper, Hart, Helmick, Hilkey, Hyre (twice), Kelley, Kittle (twice), McLean, Meeks, Moore, Phares (twice), Piercy, Reeder, Rennix, Rowan (twice), Salisbury (twice), Stalnaker (4 times), Taggart (twice), Talbott, Taylor, Triplett, Ward, Wees(e) (8 Times).

Many of these families have similar histories: a founding ancestor, who came to Randolph County early and started large families that continued to live in the area. As families intertwined thorough the years, the multiple relationships bonded them all together, so that there is hardly a descendant living there today who is not related back to several of the progenitors. More likely, they are related back in multiple ways. So when you meet a Taylor or Ward, you are probably meeting a Chenoweth and/or Stalnaker and/or Kittle and/or Daniels and/or Hart as well. A list of cousin marriages can be found on the "Kissing Cousins" page. Randolph County marriages dominated the page.

One family in particular, the Stalnakers of Jacob Stalnaker, Sr., dominated Randolph County. A peer of John Chenoweth's grandfather, Jacob had settled in the Tygart Valley twenty years before John brought his family to Randolph Co. Reputed to have had ten children over a 35 years span, eight of these, seven sons and one daughter would raise families in Randolph Co. The Chenoweth lines of John would eventual tie back to all eight of these Stalnaker families. Among John's seven children, two would marry Stalnakers. In the next generation, there would be seven more Chenoweth-Stalnaker marriages and including the first three of what would be many cousin marriages. These numbers would increase with each generation.

Richard Harris wrote of this area "The Tygart River Valley in Randolph County, WV, back in the times we speak of, was an isolated, in-bred type of place. More than like people coming from the same small town, the residents of the valley were more like an isolated country, sort of like a Shangri-La concept. So families, though not related by blood (though many were), were just as intimate as if they were. They lived, worked, played, and fought together all of their lives.....

"That valley area still carries this aura. If you drive down the side roads and look at the names on the mailboxes, or better yet, go through a local phone book, it jumps right out at you.... we never came across another relatively small area like this one that spurred the writing of so many family history books. They are almost in competition with each other to get them in print. And EVERY LADY is a member of the DAR or I am convinced would be forced to leave the valley in disgrace."

It was here that Lemuel(6) built a covered bridge in Beverley over the Tygart Valley River (he also built one in Elkins). It was nearby that George McClellam, in his victory at Rich Mountain on July 11, 1861, caught the attention of Abraham Lincoln. West Virginia may have sided with the North, but, in Randolph County, most Chenoweths enlisted in for the South. Yet the war was as divided here as was the county itself. A Chenoweth-Hart fought for the North while his three brothers fought for the South. Four Chenoweth-Kelleys enlisted for the North, but one did so under the alias of John Smith to mask his participation and salve raw feelings. Several prominet citzens were taken hostage by the North to ensure co-operation. One, Edward Pugh Chenoweth, died in that captivity in Pennsylvania.

Here, there is a Chenoweth Creek and a Chenoweth Peak. The valley is lush with trees and dotted farmlands, carved between the Appalachian Mountains. Considered today a remote area of West Virginia, the difficulty of reaching this valley in the late 1790s makes one's mind spin with wonder. It is very likely that the difficulty of reaching this valley became an underlying reason to stay put. You can get a flavor of all this by reading "Faded Ages" (Randolph County, WV recollections), posted at the Allegheny Regional Family History Society. Details of the restored home of Lemuel Chenoweth in Beverly, WV are posted at this site. You can also search the Randolph County Website. Try this for Vanscoy, another Randolph County family. The important roll that the Randolph Co. is played is described on the Civil War page.

In 1915 at the urging of David Washington Chenoweth, the last living grandson of John Chenoweth and Mary Pugh through a male line, the family erected a large obelisk on the grave of Revolutionary John in his memory. This was dedicated at what became the first annual reunion picnic of the families of Revolutionary John. In attendance were David Washington and also a young descendant, age 6, named Virginia Bird Johnson, whose interest in her family roots would grow and flower. The picnic has been continuously held on the first Saturday of September every year since 1915 on Chenoweth Creek in Elkins to present day. Over the years a roll call ceremony was developed in conjunction with the picnic to honor those of family that had passed on September to September. On the occasion of the 88th annual picnic in August of 2002, the larger audience of the 2nd National Chenoweth Reunion viewed this touching ceremony, performed by Virginia Bird, age 93.

Virginia Bird Johnson was literally the star of the show during the 2nd National Chenoweth Reunion, delighting the attendees with recollections during a Friday night presentation. This National Reunion was hosted by the families of the Elkins area and coordinated by Randy Allan, who also owns and runs the historic house of Lemuel Chenoweth in nearby Beverly. To accommodate the National Reunion, the picnic was moved two weeks earlier to August 17th. In their research travels across the country, Shirley and Richard Harris visited Elkins and became acquainted with Virginia Bird. She turned over two boxes of research to them which became the basis the 62 pages in their 1994 book that depicts the descendant families of John Chenoweth and Mary Pugh, both the oldest and largest branch of the 4th generation of family of John Chenoweth and Mary Calvert. Richard Harris returned to the Elkins picnic to present Virginia Bird with a copy of his book in 1994.

Another significant event happened at the occasion of the 8th annual Elkins reunion picnic, held in 1922. At this event, Col William H. Cobb addressed the family praising its history and presented to them an article written by Arthur L. Keith of Northfield, MN. This article described the early Virginia and Maryland wills of the Chenoweths and for the first time outlining the true shape of the first 3 generations. This outline as published by Keith would be used three years later as a basis in Cora Hiatt's 1925 publication of "The History of the Chenoweth Family".

1880 Census Study [Outline] In a 7 page review of the 1880 Census, 226 families descended from John Chenoweth and Mary Pugh are depicted, 175 of then still living in West Virginia. This virtual explosion from 1 to 225 in ninety years is unmatched in other family branches. It is not surprising when one considers John one had 81 grandchildren, 70 of these married and 64 had families. In 1880, 96 of the families reside in Randolph Co, 72 in the districts of Beverly and Green. In these two districts Chenoweth households made up roughly 20% of the enumeration. They naturally had ties with many families in the area. The majority of the families in other West Virginia counties are lines of Robert, the oldest son, who was the first of the family to leave the county in the 1830s.

The Census Study is broken down into a descendants outline, 4 complete pages of all households in the Randolph County districts of Beverly, Green, Clay/New Interest and Scott/Roaring Creek, one page for specific families in the rest of Randolph Co. and West Virginia, and one page for families that resided in other states. The menu to access these pages is found at the top of this page.

In 1880 the town of Beverly was still the county seat and the oldest town in Randolph Co., established in 1790, just 3 years after the county was formed. But the Elkins and the railroad access it enjoyed was already becoming the dominate commerical center of the county. Soon the two towns would be pitted against each other, almost coming to violence, over the location of the country seat. Beverly, like many other towns, lost out to the new industry and railroad access that Elkins enjoyed.

All of the 2nd generation would die in West Virginia, but Gabriel. Six had or would die in Randolph Co. By 1880, only 2 of the 7 children of John Chenoweth, that had families, were still alive, Jehu and Eleanor. The family was just starting into the 6th generation. Since John Chenoweth was a 4th generation grandson, this translates to the 9th generation in context with the larger Chenoweth family.

Randolph Chenoweth, the son of William Pugh, was probably the first to leave the State. He is found in the 1850 Census in Kentucky. By 1860 he was in Iowa; and in 1870 and 1880, Oregon. Another early departure (before the 1850 census) was the Murphy Family of Emma Ellen Chenoweth to Illinois. Gabriel, his sons and younger daughters left before the Civil War to Illinois, Missouri and Kansas. The War itself would prompt other families to leave, particularly those who fought for the North. After this Census, sons of Isaac Newton: John Dotherdy, Daniel McLean and Emmett George would leave for Kansas and then Colorado. Rachel Stalnaker's son, Oliver Cromwell Stalnaker and his son-in-law, David Hobart Daniels, would go to Idaho. In the mid-1900s, many families moved up into Ohio and Maryland. Others moved to Morth Carolina and Florida. Still, today, a large portion of the family still resides in West Virginia and in particular in Randolph County itself.

And finally a geography lesson on neighboring counties courtesy of Sandra Duncan

Not found in the Census [Yet]