Family Connection Between The Pioneer McAfees and George Rogers Clark

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Have any of you ever read "The WOODS McAFEE MEMORIAL PAPERS"? A very interesting account written by the Rev. Neander Woods, a descendant of James McAfee and his wife Agnes Clark.

Found tucked away in chapter VI of this work Rev. Woods makes a very bold statement while accounting the family of James and Agnes. After acknowledging the marriage, he tells that she was the daughter of Thomas Clark. This statement is no new revelation as the same information is also accounted in the writings of Robert B. McAfee, but Mr. woods goes even further in his testimony by suggesting that she was a relative of the famous Revolutionary hero Gen. George Rogers Clark.

He writes,

"It has been surmised that he (Thomas Clark) was a near relative of the father of General George Rogers Clark, but nothing positive as to this matter is known by the writer. It is also said that George Rogers Clark, left an orphan in youth was reared in part by James and his wife."

Nowhere else in my years of McAfee research have I seen anything that validates this statement, but it is a very interesting assumption. Therefore, I hit the books again with this particular topic in mind and although I couldn't find any documentation. I did however find some circumstantial evidence, and based on that this what I know and think about this possible connection.

What I know #1 :: Agnes Clark McAfee was the daughter of Thomas Clark. I did look into the family history of GRC and he has an Uncle Thomas Clark. Agnes was born about 1740 and GRC was born 1752 a difference of only 12 years. Not too much difference. In fact I have 1st cousins that span forty years.

What I think #1 :: It is not too far fetched of an assumption to say that the fathers of Agnes & GRC could be brothers.

What I know #2 :: GRC left home at an early age 18 or 19 years old, and moved to the wilderness of Western Virginia to work as a surveyor. James McAfee and family also lived in the area of western Virginia at this same time and were also skilled surveyors.

What I think #2 :: It is safe to assume that as a young inexperienced man, he might seek out a family member with which to unroll his blanket?

What I know #3 :: When GRC first moved into Kentucky he chose to go first to Harrodsburg. At this same time The McAfee’s had already established claims on land less than 10 miles from Harrod’s Fort.

What I think #3 :: If a young man without his own land, on his own 500 miles from home. Is it likely to choose a place where you know for sure a friendly face and a hot meal would surely be found in a relatives home???

What I know #4 :: GRC and the McAfees knew each other. All served under his direct command, all served as officers and positions of trust at various times(Note that George was a scout for the entire army, not a position to appoint to just anyone). It is also a local tradition that GRC from time to time would stop at McAfee Station while traveling between Harrodsburg to his base in Louisville. Another local tradition claims he used McAfee Station as a cache of gun powder, lead shot and other munitions of war. To store your precious military supplies at small McAfee Station is not a decision to take lightly. First of all it was not a military outpost but a residential settlement and was not even enclosed on all 4 sides. If a sustained attack was ever made and not relieved it would surely fall and the munitions would be lost, Harrodsburg was a more secure location with a sizable military presence and such supplies less likely to be captured by the Indians. McAfee Station was closer to the traditional embarkation point for military campaigns on Ky. River, but other stations were much closer which would rule out distance of travel as a practicality. The only logical theory was that it was on the river, bulk transportation would be made easier , but only in wet seasons as the Salt River in normal season is a series of swift riffles and islands.

What I Think #4 :: Gunpowder on the frontier was a very precious commodity. Although Harrods fort was a more populous location and a better defendable stockade, It was also home to some unscrupulous persons. To leave his supplies under the care of these men would be the same as a fox guarding the henhouse. At McAfee Station, although it was not as strong of a fortification he may have knew that if he left 100 pounds of powder under their care he would retrieve 100 pounds of powder as long as 1 still drew a breath.

Although none of these items in any way suggest a family connection between George Rogers Clark and Agnes Clark McAfee. It does shine a glimmer of light on some kind of clan like relationship between the two families.