The Persingers of Alleghany County, VA
From the notes of: R.R. & L.L. Humphries and R.L. Persinger – 6th Generation
Howard V. Humphries - Author
Jacob Persinger 1716-1789 came to the U.S. May 29, 1735 at the age of 19 on the ship Mercury and settled in central Pennsylvania (The name, which is of Swiss origin, is spelled Perdschinger on the passenger list; a photocopy of which is in the possession of Robert L. Persinger, Covington, VA). Jacob and family followed the old Indian Road south from Lancaster, PA., Cumberland, MD., Winchester, and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the James River and turned west to the mountains about 1750. The author believes that Jacob and his wife settled on land at the head of Roaring Run and built a grist mill on it (Known as Hook’s mill in the early 1900’s). (In 1774 James Montgomery Jr. was granted 37 acres on the head of Roaring Run including a mill. This land adjoined the land of which he lived, including the present Montgomery Knob on Rich Patch Mtn.) It is believed the family consisted of Jacob Sr., his wife Rebecca, Phillip, Abraham, Catherine, Christopher, Henry and Jacob Jr. in 1756 or 1757 when a war party of Delawares (or Shawnees) came down Dunlap to the forks (Callahan, VA) thru Indian Draft, crossed down the Jackson River above Fort Young (Covington, VA) over McGraw’s Gap, down Smith Creek and attached Solomon Carpenter’s blockhouse on Low Moor bottom killing several persons. They proceeded up Carnes Creek through Rich Patch, killing James Montgomery Sr. at his farm near the intersection of Roaring Run and Rich Patch roads, and taking Rebecca and her son prisoners. (In 1965 C.H. Cecil Persinger recalled his grandfather John’s saying that two Persinger boys were taken and that the other one was named Paul, that the two boys were adopted by an Indian squaw and one of them died but she did not know which one) Morton says that two sons were taken with Mrs. Persinger. The war party proceeded along the north of Rich Patch Mtn., Nicholls Knob, Potts Mtn. and through present Paint Bank, VA to the west. A group of pursuers followed a trail left by Rebecca by tearing off bits of clothing and leaving them hanging on bushes along the way. In 1965, one point on the trail was definitely establish at the head of Lick Run (a branch of Blue Spring Run) where a large spring flows from under a sloping rock and later the site of a house called Gunter (or Gunder) house in the early 1900’s at which time only the chimney remained. Mrs. Lavina (Persinger) Humphries remembered vividly her father John Persinger (son of Henry Jr. and Anne) showing her a tree at this location on which Rebecca had left a bit of clothing to assist the pursuers. The trail was lost at Paint Bank and Rebecca was never heard from again. Jacob served with Dickinson’s Rangers in 1757 and was probably with them when his wife was captured. In 1762 Jacob Sr. married Catherine Pence, widow of Jacob Pence, and is believed to have moved to McMurray’s Creek, a branch of the Cowpasture River, north and east of Clifton Forge, VA (his daughter Catherine was married in 1762 also) Jacob Sr. bought 20 acres on McMurray’s Creek in 1770; 44 acres on Wilson’s Creek in 1771 and sold it in 1775; He was appointed overseer from the county line by the Cowpasture to the Red Hill in 1770. Jacob furnished horses to the Cherokee expedition in 1776. In 1770, a committee reported it was impossible to establish a road from Jacob Persinger’s to the forks of Dunlap Creek. (From a topographic map study, it is concluded that the Jacob Persinger place was east of Beard’s or Little Middle Mtn., hence a road from there across Warm Spring Mtn. appeared unrealistic. Jacob must have found and crossed the mountain at McGraw’s Gap because he had 115 acres surveyed at the mouth of Indian Draft, a branch of the James, in 1767. Jacob and Catherine sold this land to William Mann in 1772. Botetourt Co. records (Bk. A page 272) shows a bill of appraisement for Jacob Persinger deceased filed Oct. 3, 1789 and valued 200 pounds 12 shillings, 6 pence Augusta Co. records (Vol. 1 page 67) shows Jacob Jr. as a son of Jacob Persinger deceased 1803 (Botetourt Co. was formed in 1770). Morton says that Jacob Sr. lived below Island Ford and died about 1774. 1789 is considered the correct date of Jacob Sr.’s death.
Christopher Persinger was granted 150 acres by Beverly Randolph governor of VA in 1791 at the mouth of Blue Spring Run and both sides of Potts Creek. The original grant is in the possession of Robert L. Persinger. Also, Christopher sold to Nathan Bush 11 acres (containing the old powder mill field) just below the falls of Blue Spring Run about 2 or 3 miles from its confluence with Potts Creek and directly across Blue Spring Run from the home of Emory C. Bush in the 1950’s. It is believed Christopher married Barbara Pence.
John Henry Persinger is believed to have continued living at the head of Roaring Run or returned there when he got married. His son Jacob, married Elizabeth Humphries, daughter of John Humphries who lived at the intersection of Rich Patch & Roaring Run roads in 1766 on 540 acres later granted to him in 1794, John H. Persinger bought the John Humphries land in 1812 (Botetourt Co. Deed book 14 page 481) He sold 360 acres to Jacob Bennett, his son-in-law, and 180 acres to Stephen Hook in 1820. He willed to his wife Grizzy, the land believed to be at the head of Roaring Run in 1825 (Alleghany Co. Wills Book 1 page 66). Grizzy willed the same land, which had a grist mill on it to Henry Persinger Jr. in 1834 with the stipulation that Henry Jr. “look after” Grizzy and her daughter Elizabeth. ---John Persinger married Elizabeth Kimberling in 1778 --- (page 480 Kegley’s) this could have been the John.
Jacob Persinger Jr. probably born 1752 or 1753 was carried off by the Indians in 1756 or 1757, and lived with them at Chillicothe, Ohio, principal city of the Shawnees for about 7 years. In1763, as a result of the Treaty of Paris, Chief Cornstalk of the Shawnees was required to give up his prisoners in an exchange that took place near Iron Gate, VA. Jacob Persinger Sr. claimed the 10 year old boy and gave him the name Jacob Jr. Jacob Jr. did not like the ways of the white man and ran away to return to the Indians several times, only to be returned upon orders of the Chief. Jacob Jr. doubted that he was the son of Jacob Sr. He reportedly adopted the birthday of a Godfrey boy in Pennsylvania who was captured by Indians under circumstances similar to his experience. Morton in “A Centennial History of Alleghany County” says the lost Persinger boy had a snake-bite scar on his leg, but that Jacob Jr. had no such scar. Carpenter’s “History of the Carpenters of Fort Carpenter” quotes Alexander Persinger, son of Jacob Jr., as stating that his father did have such a scar, and that his father remembered being taken from a mill by the Indians. Morton points out that Mrs. Persinger was only 4 ½ feet tall and Jacob Jr. was 6’ 4”. This is no conflict; this Mrs. Persinger was not Jacob Jr’s mother but the former widow Pence and not related to Jacob Jr. Long life and tallness are characteristics of the descendents of Christopher and Henry Persinger. Christopher and Jacob Jr. must have been closely associated since they settled on adjoining farms on Potts Creek. Henry and Jacob Jr. gave five of their children similar or identical names; Christopher and Jacob – three. It is the author’s opinion that after spending his formative years with the Shawnees, Jacob appeared rather wild and independent to the white people and it is logical that their ways were repugnant to him. The Persinger’s reared Jacob Jr. as their son; the reader may decide whether he was in fact. Jacob Jr. fought in the Revolution in Capt. Matthew Arbuckle’s Virginia Company September 6, 1775 – November 1, 1776 Capt. Arbuckle was a neighbor who lived near the mouth of the Cowpasture. In 1777 he bought 110 acres on Potts Creek about ½ mile above the confluence of Potts Creek and Blue Spring Run. The house is in excellent condition, the logs having been covered with weatherboard, and is owned by Jack Persinger of the 6th generation. Jacob was constable in Alleghany County 1809-1815. He died in 1840 and his will was recorded in Alleghany County records July 3, 1840 (Will Book 2 page 113). He is buried in the Persinger Cemetery on the home place on Potts Creek.
Jacob, son of Henry, was granted 924 acres on the head of Lick Run, a branch of Blue Spring Run in 1798. He sold 284 acres of this grant to William Humphries (son of John Humphries) in 1825 (Alleghany Co. Deed Book 1 page 163). The original receipt of this transaction is in the possession of R.R. Humphries. In 1832 Jacob sold 314 acres of this grant to J.L. Reynolds & George Byer. George Byer sold this land to Henry Persinger Jr. in 1842. Henry and Ann his wife sold 105 acres next to Sampson Persinger and crossing Lick Run in 1848. Anne Fridley was Dutch and spoke with a pronounced accent. Mrs. Lavina (Persinger) Humphries, C.H. Cecil Persinger and his wife Vergie E. remembered Anne Fridley quite vividly in 1965 and recalled her being nicknamed “Dutch.”
Colonel John Persinger, son of Jacob Jr., was killed by a slave. The story is that on June 28, 1842, the Colonel and a slave named Daniel Wright, commonly called Blue, were cradling grain in the field in front of the Jacob Jr. home place and an argument ensued over the way Blue was using the cradle. Both had been sampling the product of the stillhouse on the farm. Blue swung the cradle high and cut the Colonel on the leg, the Colonel died from loss of blood two days later. Blue was tried on July 9th and sentenced to be hanged on August 12, 1842. Blue rode on his pine coffin to the place of execution – Sunnymeade Covington, VA and was the first person legally executed in Alleghany County. Ironically, the will of Jacob Jr. filed in Alleghany County July 1840 decreed that Blue was to be freed at the age of 31, which would be November 4, 1851. The court fixed the value of the slave at $320 which the county paid the Persinger estate. William H Terrill was paid $15 for defending Blue.
Alexander Persinger, son of Jacob Jr., born July 11, 1790, married Anne Simpson, went to Illinois in 1811 and in 1818 crossed the Mississippi into Missouri territory. He settled in Montgomery County, MO. in 1820 and was appointed the first county judge in 1821. Elected to the lower house of the state legislature in 1824. Moved to Boone County, MO in 1835 where he lived the rest of his life.
Benjamin M Persinger 1902-1946 was a renowned minister of Virginia in the Methodist Church at the time of his death in an automobile accident. The name of Shoaf’s Chapel, on the original Persinger home place, was changed to Persinger Memorial in his honor in the late 1940’s, after being completely renovated.
Robert L Persinger, Benjamin’s brother, established the R.L. Persinger Co., an accounting firm in Covington, VA with several branch offices. Bob rendered invaluable assistance to the author in the preparation of the Persinger Family Chart.