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
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?