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Clenningden/Gillespie Historical Event

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Location: Augusta County Virginiamap
Surname/tag: Clendening/Gillespie
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This rich historical treasure was taken from Family Tree Maker, Ginger Hick's site

This is regarding a settler previously known as Mary Clendenning who later marrying and having a large family with William Gillespie.

But be aware, that some of the information here is deeply disturbing. Let me say, I have found small groups of people are capable of doing horrible things, no matter their culture or heritage. This cannot reflect on the ethnicity as a whole. It can only tell us something about the disturbing characteristics and capabilities of a small group of people that belong to a larger culture.

(Will written Jun 26, 1778 - probated Aug 18, 1778).

Estate Was Probated: August 18, 1778, Left his property to wife, Agnes, and children

Occupation: Farmer and Blacksmith in Washington Co, VA

Will Written: June 26, 1778

Following verified by Peg Cool from the book: "Buchanan and Gillespie of Southwest Virginia" by

David Trimble:

We do not know exactly when Robert Gillespie I arrived in America. Family legend states that he was born in Ireland and came to America with his three brothers. They were probably among the "Great Migration of Scotch-Irish" who started arriving in America in 1730. Know he lived in Augusta (now Alleghany Co.) where he served with Dickinson's Rangers in 1754 during the French & Indian War under Capt. William Preston and under George Washington in the Old Virginia Regiment. Info gleaned from the book, "Kegley's Virginia Frontier: The Beginning of the Southwest, the Roanoke of Colonial Days" by F.B. Kegley. Land on James: 6/19/1766--Survey 40 acres on James River Land Grant 6/20/1772-80 acres on two small branches of the James, Pat. Bk. 40, pg. 653. For a campaign against the Cherokees in 1776, horses were bought for the troops from Robert Gillespie. Book from Trimble has the grant on Jackson dated 9-10-1767. On May 12, 1770 he received a grant of 54 acres on the northeast side of Jackson's River (the present site of Clifton Forge), for which he received a grant on June 20, 1772; on the same date he received a grant of 42 acres on two small branches of James River. He operated a powder mill on his land and was probably a gunsmith; in 1785 he paid taxes on 218 acres.

The Scotch-Irish are people of Scottish background and ancestry who were sent to the northern part of Ireland in 1610 in order to promote British influence in Ireland. A century later they left Ireland to seek their fortunes in America. Many of them entered through the port of Philadelphia and then moved south to take up land in the Valley of Virginia. They settled in the counties of Augusta, Botetourt, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge, Alleghany and the lands to the Southwest. The towns of Winchester, Staunton, Lexington, Fincastle, and Abington were largely Scotch-Irish.

When Augusta County was formed from Orange County in 1745, it was huge--bounded on the north by the Fairfax Land Grant; on the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains; on the south by the Carolina border; and on the west by the Mississippi River. One printed source for our Scotch-Irish ancestors is Lyman Chalkley's Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlements in Virginia Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, Virginia. Some of Chalkley's references to Robert Gillespie are as follows:


Book A, May 1755

Simpson vs. Campbell--March 12, 1756. To the Worshipful bench of Augusta, we humbly request that you will take particular notice of Margaret Campbell (Cambal), for it is plainly known to all the inhabitants of the lower end of the Cowpasture that she is a common liar and troublesome to all of them that she is in neighborhood with, and furthermore it is known that she will swear anything that comes into her mind, which the subscribers by report will make appear.

The above petition was signed by Hugh Morton, James Montgomery, Wm. Mortain,Wm. Memory, Edward Edwards, Agnes Memory, Wm. Gillespy, Mary Gillespy, Patrick Carrigan, James Bear, James Scot, Samuel McMory, Margaret Cohiren, James Arbuckle, Thomas Simson, Robt. Gillespy, Margaret Arbuckle, Anne Montgomery, and Thomas Fitzpatrick. This was an attachment vs James Campbell by James Simpson, 17th March 1756. (Chalkley Volume 1 page 315)

Book D, August 1767

August, the 31st day, 1764. Sir: To Capt. Walter Cunningham, please to pay

George Dare seven pound ten shillings as soon as my pay comes in to your hand without Eney Dout, for it is justly due him and in so doing you will very much oblige your humble friend to serve. (Signed James McElhiney. Test. Robert Gilipe, (Chalkley Volume 1, page 461)


Order Book X, November 19, 1766

(Page 340) Joseph Carpenter Sr., and Wm. Whooley appointed road surveyo

from Fort Defiance to Handley's Mill, with these workers and their tithables:

Peter Wright, Solomon Thomas, Nathaniel Carpenter, John Umphries, Thos.

Carpenter, Zopher Carpenter, Ezekiel Johnston, Edward and John McMullin,

James Williams, Joseph Leeper, John Fieler, William Christian and Peter

Joseph Carpenter, Jr. (Chalkley Volume 1, page 130)

Order Book XII August 17, 1768

(Page 327) Tithables in the bent of Jackson's River from Robert Galespy

to Fort Young--exempted from working on the Cow Pasture Road. (Chalkley

Volume 1, page 250)


Will Book No. 4

(Page 37) 19th August, 1767. Archd. Clendenning's estate settlement by Ann Clendenning, recorded.--Paid Ash Claftrock, John Clendenning, Wm. Galespie, Zopher Carpenter, James Furguson, David Galloway, James Millican, Robt. Galespie , Geo. Roberts, Benj. Kimsey, John Baller.

We sometimes forget how dangerous it was to live on the Virginia frontier before the Revolutionary War. Archibald Clendenning, whose estate was settled in the above mentioned reference had been killed and scalped by the Indians. We found an account of his death in Memoirs of the Indian Wars by Colonel John Stuart of Greenbrier and we quote as follows:

"From Muddy Creek the Indians passed over into the Levels, (Greenbrier Co.) where some families were collected at Clendenin's--numbering between fifty and one hundred persons, men, women, and children." There says Colonel Stuart, they were entertained as at Muddy Creek in the most hospitable manner. "Clendenin having just arrived from a hunt with three fat elks, they were plentifully feasted. In the meantime, an old woman with a sore leg, was showing her distress to an Indian and inquiring if he could administer to her relief; he said he thought he could, and drawing his tomahawk instantly killed her and all the men almost that were in the house."

"Mrs Clendenin did not fail to abuse the Indians, calling them cowards, etc. although the tomahawk was drawn over her head with threats of instant death, and the scalp of her husband lashed about her jaws."

"The prisoners were all taken over to Muddy Creek and a party of Indians detained them there till the return of the others from Carr's Creek when the whole were taken off together. On the day they started from the foot of Keency's Knob going over the mountain, Mrs. Clendenin gave her infant to a prisoner woman to carry, as the prisoners were in the center of the line with the Indians in front and rear, and she escaped into a thicket and concealed herself. The cries of the child soon made the Indians inquire for the mother, and one of them said he could bring the cow to the calf. Taking the child by the heels he beat its brains out against a tree and throwing it in the path the savages and horses trampled over it. She told me, says Colonel Stuart, that she returned that night in the dark to her own house, a distance of more than ten miles, and covered her husband's corpse with rails which lay in the yard where he was killed in endeavoring to escape over the fence with one of his children in his arms. Mrs. Clendenin seems to have been partially crazed from the beginning of the massacre. That night, after giving what burial she could to her husband's body, she was seized with mortal terror, thinking she saw a murderer standing over her. Upon recovering her reason, she resumed her flight, and reached the settlements in safety. Colonel Stuart states that the Indians continued the war till 1764 making incursions within a few miles of Staunton

All of the above references are very important because they prove Robert Gillespie was living on the lower part of the Cowpasture River in Augusta County Virginia from 1755 through 1767. Then, in 1770, Botetourt County was formed from the southern portion of Augusta County. Botetourt was a huge county. Its boundaries covered the present states of Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and a small portion of Wisconsin.


On May 12, 1770, the Governor of Virginia granted 54 acres on the Jackson River at the headwaters of the James River to Robert Gillespie. Two years later on June 2, 1772, Robert received an additional 80 acres. Both of these deeds are recorded in Botetourt County Deed Book 9, page 24.

Elizabeth Hicks Carron states in her book Clifton Forge, Virginia, that this town was founded upon Robert Gillespie's land grant. She says, "The history of Clifton Forge began when a settlement was made on a portion of the land granted to Lord Botetourt, Governor of Virginia, from King George III. On May 12, 1770, the Governor of the colony of Virginia granted 54 acres of land to Robert Gallaspy. (Now spelled Gillespie or Gillispie by his many descendants.) Robert Gallaspy was a frontiersman and farmed the land below Iron Gate, at the head of the James River, where the L. C. Gibsons, descendants of Robert Gallaspy, now live. (The original log cabin, owned by the first settler, was torn down in 1968 in order to build a new home. Other descendants of Mr. Robert Gallaspy still residing in Clifton Forge are Mr. A. B. Davies, Jr., attorney-at-law, and his mother, one of the oldest citizens now living here.) Two years later in 1772, another tract of land was granted to the same Robert Gallaspy. His holdings consisting of something over 200 acres of flat-bottom land suitable for cultivation, lay on the north side of Jackson River and both sides of what is now Smith Creek." (Carron, page 1)

Excerpts from a writing by Marion Nickoll Rawson in The Roanoke Times dated March 28, 1938 tell us that: "It was in 1794, that perhaps the first furnace was constructed in the Iron Gate Gorge when the Jackson River had worn away the mountain and exposed great mineral wealth on the land granted to Robert Gallaspy in the early 1770's. Gillaspie probably established the iron furnace, setting the buildings on the great river boulders for firm foundation. This ‘Forge under the cliff' was the parent of the ‘Old Clifton Forge'." (Carron, page 8)

Some interesting tidbits of information about Robert Gillespie are also included in the Botetourt County Court records. In his book Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769-1800, Lewis Preston Summers gives us the following information:

At a court held for Botetourt the 9th of October, 1770

Present: Robert Breckenridge, John Bowyer, James Trimble, and William Christian, Gent.

William Hugart, Robert Glaspy & John Robinson, the persons appointed

to view the way from Jacob Persinger's to the forks of Dunlops Creek, reported

that it is impossible to establish a road there, whereon the order is discharged.

(Summers p. 92)

At a court held for Botetourt County the thirteenth of August, 1771

Present: Robert Breckenridge, Andrew Lewis, Israel Christian & William Christian, Gentlemen

William Huggard, Robert Gillispie, and William Gillispie to appoint the tithables equally to work under Matthew Arbuckle, Jacob Persinger, and James Laurence. Ordered that this court by adjd., till tomorrow, 8 o'clock. Signed by Andrew Lewis

The above entry, found in Summers book on page 126, is noteworthy because just three years later in 1774, Jacob Persinger and Matthew Arbuckle were the two lead scouts who guided General Andrew Lewis to the Battle of Point Pleasant.

This next entry is especially interesting. It occurred in February, 1777, during the Revolutionary War.

At a court held for Botetourt County the eleventh of February, 1777

Present: John Bowyer, Andrew Woods, Richard May & Wm. McClenachan, Gent. Justices.

John Robinson who was suspected of being a disaffected person to the United States of America, this day appeared in court & being examined appears to the court that there is reason for such suspicion. Therefore, it is ordered that he enter into a recognizance to appear at the next court, himself to be bound in the sum of 100 pounds and to find two securities to be bound with him in the sum of fifty pounds each.

John Robinson, Robert Gillispie, and Daniel Prentice acknowledged themselves to be severally indebted to the Commonwealth of Virginia, the said John Robinson in the sum of 100 pounds and the said Robert Gilliespie and Daniel Prentice each in the sum of 50 pounds of their goods & chattels, lands & tenements to be levied & to the said Commonwealth rendered. But on condition that if the said John Robinson shall make his personal appearance at the next court to answer a complaint against him for being an enemy to the United States of America & for expressing himself contrary to an Act of the late General Assembly of this State by acknowledging the authority of the King of Great Britain over the said States, & shall not depart without the leave of the said court, this recognizance to be void. (Summers, page 258)

Evidently, John Robinson had an enemy who accused him of being loyal to the King of England. He had two loyal friends, as well. Both Robert Gillispie and Daniel Prentice were willing to post a bond of 100 pounds (about $300 in today's currency) Did they lose their money? Let's check the next court session.

At a court held for Botetourt County the 11th day of March, 1777

Present: William Fleming, Benjamin Estill, Andrew Woods & Richard May, Gent. Justices.

The Commonwealth against Robinson. The defendant appeared

and nothing being alleged or proved against him the said complaint was dismissed. (Summers p. 261)

The most important reference we found about Robert Gillespie was noted in the following record:

At a court held for Botetourt County the 10th day of February, 1780

Present: Pat Lockhart, James Barnett, Wm Walton, and Thomas Rowland, Gent. Justices.

Robert Gillispie, Senr.'s claim as a Sergeant in Captain Dickerson's

Company in 1754 for the defence of this Colony is ordered to be certified.

(Summers p. 303)

William Armstrong Crozier tells us in his book Virginia Colonial Militia 1651-1776 that "For participation in the wars of the Colony of Virginia against the French and Indians, and for service rendered by the Militia in defense of the frontiers, the King's Proclamation of 1763 granted certain amounts of land. The amount given to field officers was 5,000 acres; to captains, 3000 acres; to subalterns or staff officers, 2000 acres; to non-commissioned officers, 200 acres; to privates, 50 acres. The Original Warrants or Certificates of the subjoined abstracts are to be found in two MMS. Volumes, deposited in the State Land Office, Richmond, Virginia.."

(Crozier, page 9)

All males over 18 years of age had to serve in the local militia. In Charles T. Burton's book Botetourt County, Virginia Its Men 1780-1786 we find Robert, Simon, and William Gillaspy in Company 23, which covered the area where the Jackson River joins the Cowpasture River to form the James River. In 1786 James Gillaspy also served in Company 23.

In the book 1795 Tithable and Land Books for Botetourt Co. Virginia we find that Frederick Pitzer, Commissioner for Botetourt County, Virginia listed the following Gillaspeys on April 2, 1795:

The numbers stand for the following: (whites over 16) (blacks to 16) (blacks over 16) (horses) (steed horses) all of which were taxed.

Gillaspey, Simon 2 - 2 - 2 - 10 - 1

Gillaspey, Robert Snr. 1 - 0 - 0 - 1

Gillaspey, Robert Jnr. 1 - 0 - 0 - 4

Gillaspey, James 1 - 0 - 0 - 7

Gillaspey, William 1 - 0 - 0 - 4

The last record we have for Robert Gillespy Sr. is his will in which he names his five sons and three daughters. All of the above Gillaspeys are mentioned in this will. In Item 3 he states that he leaves no part of his estate to son William and daughters Isabell and Mary because he had already given them their share. He leaves his land to sons Robert Jr., John, and Alexander. His son John is to pay 20 pounds to son James (brother of John) before John can inherit his share of the land.

In Item 8 Robert entrusts the care of his wife (not named) to his son Alexander who is to "keep her in good sufficient Meat, Drink, Washing, Lodging, and Good Clothing and in case my son Alexander should marry and there should be such Discord as to render it so as my wife could not live comfortable and agreeable without a separation, than my son Alexander shall give her the above support apart to herself."

In Item 9 he leaves youngest daughter Jean her "bed of furniture that is called hers"and one black mare and colt, and in Item 10 he gives his bay mare's colt to grandson John Gillespy. He closes the will with these sentences, "And lastly I appoint my Beloved friend Simon Gillispy and my sons John and Alexander, my soul Executors of this my last Will and Testament and all other Wills and Legacies heretofore made I do revoke and by these presents they are Revoked. In witness I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 23 day of May 1797.

Above taken from the file of Kellis and Virginia Gillespie 1998

--All the above notes taken from Family Tree Maker, Ginger Hicks' site

There is a marker at Clifton Forge, VA--a marker put there by DAR sometime in the 20's or 30's stating that the City of Clifton Forge, VA was built on property owned by Robert Gillespie (Gilaspy). Given to him by the King of England. There is a photo of the marker on my web site.

"The marker reads:

May 12, 1770 and June 22, 1772

The land upon which Clifton Forge is established was granted to Robert Galaspy from George III, King of England, through Baron De Botetourt, Governor of the Colony of Virginia.

In recognition of this grant, this marker is erected by the Anne Bailey Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.


In small front yard of the Clifton Forge, VA Town Hall" (from his website)

--From Danny Gillespie, via email, website is: http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/g/i/l/Danny-L-Gillespie/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0074.html


Name is not 100% certain. Needs more documentation.

File of Lisa Alexander given to me has Robert'a wife's name as Agnes Russell. She said she came up with the name in the Johnson County Museum in Franklin, Indiana from someone's genealogy records that had been donated. Unfortunately she said she couldn't find any documentation to prove it though. Lisa's e-mail: eka@indy.net By Ginger Hicks 6-16- 1998

Here is a note from Virginia Gillespie which I believe supports our Agnes Russell as the wife of our James. From the book" Buchanan and Gillespie of Southwest Virginia" on page 340 Virginia found this footnote referring to our Robert: 2. Botetourt County, Virginia tax list 1785, Will Book A, page 475; Mrs Sarah Buchanan stated that her father, Russell Gillespie, was names for his (maternal?) grandmother. Note: Sarah Columbia Gillespie was the daughter of Thomas Russell Gillespie named above. Could this mean that Robert Gillespie was married to a Russell? by Ginger Hicks

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