Written by Himself.
Commenced April 23rd, 1845.
I will now return to the history of my grandfather McAfee's life while he lived in Pennsylvania. His children were all born at his residence on Octorara Creek, where having six sons besides Malcolm who died on his way to North America, and three daughters, his little farm was not sufficient to keep them all employed, he began to look around him where he could get more land and more room, about 1752 he sold his land and removed to a place on the Conecocheague in the west of Pennsylvania, where he remained one year, and in 1753 he moved across Virginia into North Carolina in the vicinity of the Cowpens, where he did not remain more than two years, when he moved back to Virginia, where he bought land and settled on the Cataba River, where he remained until the family moved to Kentucky, during the old man's residence in Pennsylvania and after he went to Virginia the celebrated preacher Whitefield visited America. And my grandmother McAfee became much impressed and interested to hear him and went several miles for that purpose, which gave the old man much uneasiness, as he had not a good opinion of his earnest zeal and being a seceder, and somewhat of a Pharisee and his ideas of toleration being contracted, he forbid the old lady going to hear him, which had such a serious effect on her that he was compelled to withdraw his objections, with the exclamation, "Well Jenny do as you please, but don't let him come about me." Yet the old man was a strict Seceder Presbyterian in his own way. I gave this story as a specimen of the ideas of toleration held by our ancestors.
1763 - After the close of the French War, in this year, my grandfather removed to the county of Augusta, and his children having generally married - his sons generally soon after they became of age, and his daughters before that age as land was easily procured and wild unsettled wilderness before them, the first thought of the young men as soon as they arrived of age, was to look out for suitable companions, which in those days was not hard to obtain as there was a great equality in the circumstances of the back settlements, as all had little farms with the necessary stock to cultivate it the young women had health and industry and many of them a reasonable share of Beauty. There was no looking after fortunes or dependence on fathers or father-in-laws for support. Each felt that upon their own industry with the blessing of heaven depended their future destiny, all were ambitious to excell and prove their capacity to maintain a family. My father having reflected a short time upon his future prospects, cast his eyes into the family of my grandfather James McCoun who at that time had two or three marriageable daughters, and having met my mother at a neighborhood quilting which was the fashionable place of the meetings of the young people in those days, was not long in concluding a match, as both had youth, health and industry which constituted the principal portions of their fortunes. They were married on the 10th of December 1766. The whole of my father's property at that time consisted of his clothes, a horse and a good rifle gun. My mother had her clothes, a bed well stocked with blankets and rugs, a cow and a calf and young mare. With which they started out cheerful and happy. In the spring of 1767 my father moved into North Carolina near where my grandfather first settled, but the next year he returned to Virginia and went up into Botetourt County and settled on Sinking Creek, and in two years after, in 1770, he bought an additional tract of land upon the mountains near the head of Sinking Creek called the cove. My uncles and grandfather also bought land and settled in that part of Botetourt County, where they lived in great peace and harmony, farming and hunting alternately to supply their families. It was about this time that my father having killed a very extraordinary large Elk, had the skin dressed and with the aid of my mother made a most beautiful rug of many colors by sewing woolen yarn into it, which alone was an ample winter covering for a bed, under which I have often slept. It has descended as an heirloom to my eldest brother Samuel and is now in the possession of his widow and family. When a boy we used to call it "Old Ellick" and many struggles I used to have in keeping "Old Ellick" on the bed especially if the skin side was next to the bed. it was, however, as pliant and soft as the neatest dressed deer skin.
1771-2 - In these years the fame of the "Long Hunters" as they were called, of Finley, Dr. Walker, Daniel Boone and others began to circulate that there was a rich and delightful country to the west of the waters of the Ohio. My father and uncles often held councils together and talked over their future prospects, all of whom being in the vigor of manhood and full of enterprise and adventure, longed to see for themselves, as they could not think of being confined to the sterile mountains of Virigina where only small parcels of fertile land could be found at any one place. The governor of Virginia having also issued his proclomation for grant of 400 acres each to soldiers of the French and Indian Wars, in which they had nearly all participated, and also having understood that surveyors were going out to survey these claims called Proclomation Rights, determined early in the Spring of 1773 to visit this land of promise, accordingly, having made provision for the cultivation of their little farms, having first planted their corn about the 10th of May, in the year 1773, the company consisting of the following individuals:
James McAfee Jr.,being my uncles, and father, excepte Samuel Adams, who was a neighboring young man, who had volunteered to go with them left their residence on Sinking Creek and Cataba in Botetourt County in the colony of Virginia for the purpose of exploring the western waters of the Ohio River, and seeking out their future homes, taking with them my uncle John McCoun and another young man, James Pawling to take back their horses. They were fully aware of the dangers and difficulties to be encountered, but to men enured to hardships, bold and enterprising, the prospects of making future fortunes, and the honor of being among the first adventures in the western wilderness consoled and supported them, together with a firm reliance upon an overruling Providence, whose protecting arm they did not doubt would be with them in their long and dangerous journey. They were all married and had families (except Samuel Adams) who was then not more than 19 years of age, and had received deep religious instructions from a pious mother who had offered up her prayers for their safety, they felt doubly armed in their hazardous undertaking.
James McCoun, Jr.,
Go to Part 3 - Summer, 1773.
Updated April 22, 2000. This transcription is copyrighted by . It may be freely used for non-commercial purposes and family research, but must not be used for any other purpose without written permission from the transcriber.