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Buchanan Family from 1750


I don’t want to bore you to death with facts and figures so I’ll select Grandfather Nathaniel Buchanan as the focus.  He was born about 1754 to John Buchanan (who came from Londonderry, IR) and Elizabeth Baxter nee Wiltshire.  Nathaniel, along with his family, moved to Virginia from Pennsylvania when his grandfather, Nathaniel Wiltshire, was wounded during the French and Indian War in the year 1755.  During this battle Colonel Patton (an ancestor so I hear, of General George Patton of WW 2 fame) was killed.   He and his siblings grew up in the New River area of VA where his grandfather had 640 acres.  Nathaniel married his cousin, ---Forbes around 1780 and proceeded to have 5 children.  As he grew and was a member of the Virginia Militia he was wounded by Indians, having a ball pass through his body.  A companion pushed a silk handkerchief through the wound and he recovered.

During another incident Nathaniel was going to a neighbor’s when a party of Indians was observed by him.  He hid himself and when they passed he went on to the neighbor’s house to find that they had all been killed.

Nathaniel was with the militia during the Revolutionary War and was captured by the British.  He managed to escape and when the soldiers were gaining on him he turned and said, “ There he goes!  There he goes!”  whereupon the soldiers went in one direction and he in the other.  At another time he was a prisoner of Cornwallis.

In 1795, after the death of his father, he sold his land in VA to Moses Austin, father of Stephen F. Austin of Texas history. After the sale he moved on into Kentucky as did many others who were granted land for their service in the Revolutionary War.  Typically, there was another war going on there with Cornstalker, an Indian leader.  Nathaniel served as a captain in the Cornstalk Militia. 

His wife died leaving him with 5 small children and he married Betsy Conn, the daughter of another Cornwallis captive.  They proceeded to live in KY and had a family of 11 children.  I used to read about all the different counties they lived in and thought how terrible it must have been for Betsy, to move all the time.  I could just picture her pregnant—again--, carrying a child in her arms and following behind the wagons because the pigs’ legs were so short they had to ride!  Then I found that it was the counties that kept moving around, not them.  Nathaniel was back in my good graces!

             Apparently, they farmed until Nathaniel’s death in 1829.  Some of his children had moved on to Illinois and Indiana where they lived for many generations.  One of the sons from his first marriage was Welshire Buchanan who fought in the War of 1812 and was a noted herbal healer.  Another son, John, the first son of Betsy, wrote a very touching letter before he died, asking to be buried in a sheet rather than a coat so he wouldn’t be buried in anything finer than the Lord had been buried in.  Various grandchildren ended up in Montana, Colorado, Oregon, California and Oklahoma.

Another son, my husband’s Grandfather, Mason Buchanan married Eliza Walls of the Walls family that founded Sullivan, Indiana.  Mason was very proud of the fact that he did his civic duty and never missed an election.  He was blind before he died but continued to work making baskets.  He and his wife were married for 66 years and they died within a month of each other.

There was a big migration of folks from Scotland in 1717 and 1722 and huge “plantations” were formed in VA.  Nathaniel Buchanan came from Wolf Head plantation.  Many times the Scots were the only ones who could read and they were the ones who read the proclamations etc. to the villagers.  My folks were still putzing around on camels in the middle east while my husbands ancestors were in America notching trees to define their property and I’ve really enjoyed doing the research on his family. They are part of the threads that have woven this country into the United States.  

BTW, the property line of one of his relatives went from the “white cow to the hickory tree.”  I wonder if she’s still there?

Shirley Davis


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