William S. Withrow

I’m not clear on where the middle initial “S” came from in this ancestors’ name and I’m equally unclear as to why the middle name “Scott” is used in so many other family trees but there it is. I can find no evidence to support the S or the middle name Scott but I’m going to use William S. Withrow in order to distinguish him from his son, William A. Withrow, and any other William Withrow’s that may crop up in my research.

I don’t know where William S. Withrow was born but it is likely that he descended from Robert Withrow (Sr.) listed in the 1788 tax list for Greenbrier County (and forward): Robert and William were the only two “Witheros” listed in the tax list for that year: there were none listed in preceding years. Other trees I’ve looked at allege that Robert Withrow Sr. and wife Elizabeth Evans came to the region from Pennsylvania. That is supported by the death record of son Robert Withrow (Jr) on file with the Greenbrier County Court who married Jane Alderson in Greenbrier and lived out his life there. You can also see a copy of the couple’s death record here: http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=2899564&Type=Death.

If you search the 1850 Federal Census on either Ancestry or FamilySearch, you’ll find that Robert Jr.’s birthplace is Pennsylvania (the family of his wife, Jane Alderson, came from Maryland).  With Robert Jr being slightly younger than William S, it stands to reason that William S. was also born in Pennsylvania.

In some data that was given to me years ago was an approximate date of birth for William S. Withrow: 1765. I’m beginning to believe this came from a headstone in the cemetery at the Old Stone Church at Lewisburg on which William’s date of death is provided as 1 April 1836. There is a chip in the tombstone in the lower-left corner where the carving bearing his age broke off. That chip may be recent and the age was probably 71. That’s because when I subtracted 1765 from 1836, I came up with 71.

William S Withrow Headstone
Sacred to the memory of William Withrow who departed this life April the 1st 1836 in the _1st year of age. Old Stone Presbyterian Church, Lewisburg, WV.

William S. Withrow, Robert Withrow, Jr., and Robert Withrow, Sr. are all listed in the 1792 Greenbrier County tax list that was transcribed by Larry G. Shuck. Although Robert Sr. and William are also listed in the 1786 Greenbrier tax list that list does not provide dates of visitation necessary for figuring out where they lived in proximity to each other and allied families based on their neighbors. By their neighbors, I mean the Skaggs, Johnson, and McGraw families from whom I descend as well as prominent men in the vicinity, i.e.  Col. James Graham and Elder John Alderson, the first pastor of the Old Greenbrier Baptist Church and the patriarch of the family for whom the town of Alderson is named.

Section of 1792 Greenbrier County WV Tax List.

For instance, Robert Johnson, also listed in the tax list, is buried at Johnson’s Crossroads. I know this from the tombstone under a tree at the intersection of Johnson’s Crossroads and Wolf Creek Road of which I took a photo but is irritatingly lost somewhere in this house. (In 1994, I had the delightful experience of touring the areas around Alderson, Wolf Creek, and Johnsons Crossroads with my family and Mr. George Lively, now deceased, then a deacon of the Old Greenbrier Baptist Church and a Skaggs descendant. Mr. Lively was the accountant for my parents’ business. At the end of our tour, we stopped at Lowell and lunched on hot dogs at the gas station/restaurant there).

Col. James Graham (although the tax list doesn’t designate him as “Colonel”) built and lived in the log house which still stands at Lowell, WV (now in Summers County near Talcott). It is a museum, the last I recall.

Bailey Wood, Sr. and Bailey Wood Jr. lived on Wolf Creek and, if memory serves correct, they lived near the mouth of Wolf Creek on the Greenbrier River. Although I am not descended from the Wood family, Nancy Wood, daughter of Bailey Wood, Sr, was the first wife of my ancestor Martin McGraw (who by the way was also born in Pennsylvania).

Having said all that, my point is that the Withrow, Wood, and Skaggs families all lived in the area south of the Greenbrier River that encompassed Alderson, Wolf Creek, Johnsons Crossroads, and Lowell. The area became Monroe County in 1799. If you’ve read up on the Old Greenbrier Baptist Church, you’ll recognize the Wood and Skaggs surnames among the twelve founding members. All these people and their descendants intermarried due to their close proximity to one another. When I say “close” I mean hundreds of acres close. Miles.

This Willam S. Withrow, if I’m ascertaining the documents correctly, is enumerated in the tax lists as well as the Census in Greenbrier up through 1810. Then it appears he may have been in Nicholas County in the 1820 Census. This would make sense because son-in-law, Thomas McGraw, who is in the Greenbrier tax lists up until around that period and afterward married William’s daughter Catherine “Caty” Withrow in Nicholas County in the year 1820. But Thomas is then found in Greenbrier tax lists up to 1830 as well as the 1830 Greenbrier Census. The conclusion is that 1) Caty was living in Nicholas County in her father’s household in 1820, 2) Thomas already knew her and was determined to marry her, and 3) after the nuptials they came “home” to Greenbrier County.

Where in Nicholas County did William S. Withrow live? According to Greenbrier County W. V. Court Orders 1780-1850 by Helen S. Stinson (p. 317): “COURT OF 28 NOVEMBER 1820: Deed from Thomas Masterson and wife to Wm. Withrow for 220 acres of land near the foot of Gauley Mountain admitted to record.” That puts the family in the area of Gauley Bridge/Kanawha Falls/Belva, West Virginia. How do I know the purchaser is actually William “S” Withrow and not his son? Understanding that the laws of the commonwealth considered a male under the age of 21 as a minor and therefore legally incompetent to enter a contract, I assumed that William Withrow was at least 21 years of age in 1820, meaning he had to have been born in at least 1799. Since son William A. Withrow was born in 1807, it probably was not he entering the land contract with Thomas Masterson.

What doesn’t make sense to me is why William S. Withrow would move to Nicholas County (1820) then back to the Greenbrier region where he appears in the 1830 Census as well. This requires a lot more study in records other than what is available through Ancestry and FamilySearch.

That he is likely the same William Withrow buried in the cemetery of the Old Stone (Presbyterian) Church at Lewisburg makes sense due to his being in Greenbrier in 1830; the age on the tombstone which has chipped off; and his age provided in the Censuses, even though it was a range of ages rather than an exact age. The fact that he’s listed in the Greenbrier County tax list in 1788 tells me that he was most likely in his 20’s in that period. Note that only he and Robert Withrow (Sr.) were in that tax list – Robert Jr wasn’t added until 1792, making William S. the (likely) older brother. The math shows that 1788-20=1768, putting his date of birth within three years of what had already been estimated.

Finally, I would like to add that one of my cousins married a fellow surnamed Bailey (most of my cousins live in the Kanawha Valley). Over lunch at the Rice Bowl in Cross Lanes back in January, he was telling me he descended from some Withrows that lived on the Poca side of Sissonville. So, I got his grandparents’ names and traced his tree. Sure enough, Kenneth descends from William S. Withrow: He through William A. Withrow, and I through William A’s sister, Catherine McGraw (wife of Thomas), making us 5th cousins once removed.

And that’s all I know at this point about William S. Withrow. Stayed tuned for future updates. And if you’re copying information from my Ancestry family tree, please know that this line is in a state of “flux” and is, at this point a work in progress.

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4 thoughts on “William S. Withrow”

  1. Hello,
    William S. Withrow is my 4th great grandfather, I thought I saw a statue of him, somewhere. Do you know if there is a statue out there of him, and if there is why is there one of him? Mrs. Terri wiseman smith.

    • Hello, Terri,

      I am not aware of any statue, only the headstone (pictured) which is purportedly within the cemetery next to the Old Stone Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg, West Virginia. I personally have not seen the headstone or gravesite. I have visited the cemetery at the Old Stone Church but was a teen at the time and not one whit interested in ancestors. As the Smiths and Wisemans are not in my direct ancestral line, I have no knowledge of those families.

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