Jonathan B. Butcher, Registered Genealogist, Cary, North Carolina

Dear Mrs. Poe,

I was recently at the Virginia Archives, and have continued research on the Elders. What I found adds a little bit more to the picture, and I feel convinced that the Robert Elder in Frederick County, Va. is the ancestor of our line.

Further progress will apparently now require some research in southeastern Pennsylvania. These records are not readily available to me here, and could best be investigated by a researcher on location. I do not however presently have anyone I can recommend to you there. Yours sincerely, Jonathan B. Butcher

Jonathan B. Butcher, 5/1989

In the last report we built what seems to me to be a convincing case that Samuel Elder, probably born ca. 1740-50, was a son of Robert Elder, who came “from Virginia” to Tryon Co., N.C. in 1770. Further, association of names (Crockett and Patterson) suggests that this Robert Elder who was on Back Creek in Frederick Co. Va. (now Berkely CO., West Virginia) by 1749, probably of Scots-Irish origin.

I began present research by looking further in the Virginia records, although we find but little in Frederick Co. We know that Robert on 5 March 1749/50 had a warrant for 100 acres on the north side of Back Creek. This tract was granted to Robert on 4 April 1750 (Northern Neck Patients, H:272, see Photostat). We also know that on 6 Dec. 1750 Hugh Miller assigned an entry for 296 acres on Back Creek to Robert Elder. This tract was finally granted to “Robert Elder of Frederick County” on 16 Sept. 1766 (N:224, see Photostat).

The index to Frederick Co. deeds shows only a single Elder transaction. This is indexed as “Elder, Jacob & ux to Jas. Patterson, 11:341). However, the index is in error, as this actually turns out, after much search, to be a deed from Robert Elder , recorded in Book 11, page 441. In this deed, dated 1 June 1767, Robert Elder (signing by mark “X”) and wife Elizabeth (“X”), of Frederick County, Va. sold for 10 s. to James Patterson the 100 acre survey on the north side of Back Creek (11:441, acknowledged 2 June 1767). It is of course of interest to note another Patterson connection here.

I did not find any sale for Robert’s 296 acre tract. It is possible that the deed for this was recorded in Berkeley Co., West Virginia, but these deeds are not available at the Virginia Archives.

In any case, I suspect that Robert Elder may have left Frederick Co., in 1767, and perhaps lived briefly somewhere else in Virginia before reaching Tryon Co., N.C. Unfortunately, there are no tithable lists for Frederick Co. in this time period. (This is unfortunate, as these might have shown Robert’s sons coming of age.) I did check the original indexes to the Court’s Order books for1758-1772, but found no Elder references. (These are partial indexes, and show lawsuits only the name of the plaintiff.) No early Robert Elder land grants were found elsewhere in Virginia.

In the last report I suggested that our Elders might be related to the Robert Elder family found in Lancaster and Cumberland counties, Pennsylvania. I thought perhaps our Robert might have come to Virginia via Cumberland Co., However, a check of the Cumberland Co., deeds does not show a Robert Elder until 1782. I now suspect that our Robert probably does not descend from this family, but did likely come through Pennsylvania and likely was related in some way. Recall that we also have the Andrew and Matthew Elder families to fit into the picture, both also likely of Scots-Irish origin.

Mary Brosveen suggested that our Samuel Elder was likely a son of an Andrew Elder Sr., and brother of Andrew Elder of Grainger Co., Tenn. I do not think that this is correct, as Samuel would certainly appear to have been the son of Robert Elder. Further, I am not presently convinced of the existence of an Andrew Elder, Sr. However, it is likely that there was a relationship.

From naming patterns, it certainly seems quite possible that Matthew Elder was related to our line, and quite possibly Robert Elder was a brother of Matthew (and Andrew Sr.?). Matthew is thought to have been born ca. 1722, and died testate in 1783 in Washington County, Virginia, leaving children Andrew, Agnes, Martha, Jane, Mary, Rebecca, Robert and James. Washington Co. was created in 1776 from Fincastle, in turn created in 1772 from Botetourt, in turn created from Augusta Co. No early Elder deeds were found in Augusta or Botetourt. In Washington Co., the first Robert Elder deed was made on 17 Mar. 1792 by Robert Elder and wife Rebecca to James Elder for 194 1/2 acres on the Middle Fork of Holston River (1:390). These were clearly the sons of Matthew. (J. Butcher, C.G.). (Agreed, AP).

Robert Elder, supposedly the son of Matthew, was later a Revolutionary pensioner from Kentucky, and stated in his pension application that he was born in 1760 in York Co., Penn., and that his father moved to Rockbridge Co., Va, in 1773.

Andrew Elder, the Revolutionary pensioner, later of Grainger Co., Tenn. States that he was born in 1748 in Chester Co., Pennsylvania (at one point mistakenly transcribed as “Charles Co.” and entered service in Botetourt Co., Va. (now Washington) in 1776. According to the testimony of his comrade in arms, James Shields of Greene County, Tenn., Andrew had a brother Matthew who died in the Revolution. Interestingly, Shields stated that he served in the Revolution from Maryland, but he had known Andrew as a boy.

According to Mary Brosveen’s letter, this Andrew was living with his father, Andrew, Sr., at the Forks of James River in 1772. I have not seen the evidence for this statement, although it does “seem” quite possible. However, I wonder if the pensioner Andrew might actually be the eldest son of Matthew Elder, which would certainly seem to fit the facts of the deposition. Another Andrew Elder, who died in Madison County, Kentucky in 1807, is listed by Mary Brosveen as Matthew’s son, apparently based on DAR records, but I wonder if this is correct. I note that Matthew Sr. of Washington Co., did not name a son Matthew in his will – which could fit with his having a son of this name who died in the Revolution.

In any case, the testimony of James Shields suggests a possible connection to Maryland. Presumably, Matthew Elder may have moved from Chester to York Co., Penn., then into Maryland. I believe that these moved through Frederick County, Maryland. In particular, I note that the will of Alexander McKeen, Jr. of Frederick Co., Maryland, dated 28 Feb 1765 and proven 25 may 1765, was witnessed by Matthew Elder, Andrew elder and William Pursley (Western Maryland Genealogist, 2:129). This is presumably the Matthew who died in Washington Co., Va., and the Andrew mentioned here was perhaps his son (then aged 17), or else his (hypothetical?) brother of the same name. I note that Frederick Co., Maryland is just across the Potomac from the Back Creek area of Virginia, where our Robert Elder lived. Unfortunately, the Frederick Co., Maryland deeds are not available to me here in abstract. I note however that these Elders do not seem to have been related to William Elder (Catholic) who left a will in Frederick Co., in 1773. The latter’s family is discussed in Tracey, Pioneers of Old Monocacy, and he is apparently the same William Elder discussed in Sister Mary Louise Donnely’s William Elder Ancestors and Descendants not available here).

I located several other miscellaneous early Elder families who do not descend from Robert of Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania Chester County, Pennsylvania might be of particular importance to us (as Andrew was born there), but again the deeds are not available to me in abstract. I did however find that one James Elder made a will in New London twp., Chester Co., on 9 Jan. 1766, proven 18 June 1766. He appointed his brother Robert Elder executor, “if alive”, otherwise John Fleming to be executor. James left bequests to his daughter Martha Elder, brother Robert Elder, John Scott and borther John Elder’s children. Witnesses were James Elder, Thomas Scott and Elizabeth (+) Hamilton. This James was not the son of Robert (Jr.) of Lancaster Co., as the latter’s son John died childless. No other early Elder probates were found in Chester Co. Now, I would guess that the brother of Robert referred to in James’ will was not our Robert, as the latter was not living particularly nearby. However, this is possible, given the unusual “if alive” clause.

Adjacent to Chester Co., Penn. and not for from New London is New Castle Co., Delaware. There we find one Benjamin Elder, who made a will on 23 April 1749, proven 17 May 1749. This appoints wife Mary and son John executors, and also names son Alexander and daughters Hannah and Margaret Elder.

I also found one other early Elder family in Maryland. A John Elder married in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland on 19 Oct. 1708 Mary Morris. This would appear to be the same John Elder who made a will in Anne Arundel Co. on 29 Dec. 1740, proven 11 Mar. 1740/1, appointing sons Alexander and James executors and witnessed by Richard Daviss, Orlando Griffith, Edward Penn and Catharine Scott. John left bequest to sons Alexander, James and Charles Elder (100 acres each), daughter Mary. It is interesting to note that the given name Alexander reoccurs in the Spartanburg Co., S.C. family – so perhaps the John Elder family of Spartanburg was connected to one of these last two groups.

In summary, Robert Elder would appear to have lived in Frederick Co., Va. from 1749 to at least 1767. This fits well with his appearance in Tryon Co., N.C. in 1770. Further, this would seem to show that he was old enough to have been the father of Samuel Elder, to whom he deeded land. (I do not have proof of that deed - aebp) I do have proof of the above Robert Elder who deeded land to a Samuel Elder.

Given naming patterns, it seems quite possible that our Robert was in some way related to Matthew Elder (of Washington Co., Va.) and Andrew Elder (of Grainger Co., TN.) The available information suggests that the itinerary for this branch of the family leads from Chester to York Co., Penn., then to Frederick Co., Maryland and on to Virginia. Quite possibly our Robert Elder will be found somewhere back along this route, prior to his appearance in Frederick Co., Va. ca. 1749.

I thus think the first priority for continued research should be to look further into the deeds and tax lists of Chester Co., Pennsylvania. (I believe there are a good number of early tax lists extant which have not been published.) These records are not readily available to me here, and could best be approached by a researcher in Pennsylvania. It would also seem worthwhile to check records in York Co., Penn. and Frederick Co., Maryland. Finally, it might be worthwhile to check the deeds of Berkeley Co., West Virginia for record of the sale of Robert Elder’s other land grant


January 2001
Compiled by Ann Elder Brooks Poe
(Ann passed away the morning of February 5, 2004)

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