James Arbuckle, Sr

James Arbuckle, Sr

Male 1713 - 1783  (69 years)


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First Settlement in Turkey Cove, by Vicki Sturgill Stevens

By Vickie Sturgill Stevens, originally on Virginia GenWeb. Turkey Cove was in southwestern Virginia.

     In 1770 or 1771, Thomas Berry and a William McGaughy went into Powell Valley to hunt with a Thomas Sowards, who seemed to be familiar with the Valley. While Berry and Sowards had gone up the valley after buffalo, McGaughy seems to have remained behind at their hunting camp and upon their return he had deadened some trees which he claimed as his "corn or settlement rights." At this time McGaughy was living on the Holston, as was Berry. McGaughy never actually made any improvements or lived upon his corn right which the law required for a legal claim, but nevertheless the Land Commissioners granted him a warrant for 1000 acres in Powell Valley in 1781. In 1793, McGaughy traded his land in the Turkey Cove which by accurate survey was 1400 acres to Walter Preston for forty-five pounds in the form of a Negro girl slave, named Milly and aged about 12 years. The terms of this contract were such that if Preston could not get a clear title to the land Milly was to be returned to him, and in case she had been removed by death or some other accident then McGaughy was to repay Preston 47 pounds and 8 shillings. Walter Preston sold this land to Simon Ely, and he, Ely, bought it contrary to the advice of Vincent Hobbs who told him Preston could not make a good deed because McGaughy had not made a legal settlement, with Ely saying: "What is it that a Preston cannot do?"

     In April 1775 or 1776, Jeptha Massey, along with his brother-in-law, Thomas Sowards, made a settlement on this same land on a pre-emption for 1000 acres in Turkey Cove and they were also granted a warrant by the Land Commissioners of Washington County in 1781. Massey who was granted the warrant for this land actually lived upon it, as did Sowards, built a cabin, cleared land, planted corn, cabbage, peach stones and apple seeds, but were driven out by the Indians in June, 1776, although they returned after Col. William Christians' Cherokee Campaign ended in the fall of that year. Jeptha Massey sold his warrant sometime between 1777 and 1779 to one James Arbuckle who moved his family into the cove and occupied the Massey cabin at the Sinking Springs. Marital trouble began between James Arbuckle and his wife, Rachael, and he left her, going to Greenbrier County, West Virginia (then Virginia) where he died at the home of Henry Hunter in April, 1783. Rachel continued to live on in the Cove and Jeptha Masey, the cause of separation from her husband, at a place called "Rachael's Cabin." She was still living here in 1780 when Vincent Hobbs went to the Turkey Cove to make a settlement and he said she seemed very angry that he trespassed upon her land, which she claimed by Massey's settlement right.

     On October 12, 1781, Rachael Arbuckle sold the land to William and Robert Davis and Alexander Wiley of Wythe County, having either her son, James, who was then 14 or 15 years old, or one Joseph Cury forge the "X" for her husband's signature. James Arbuckle, Jr., who was born in 1766 or '67, stated in Jefferson County, Indiana, on March 20, 1820, that Cury made the "X" mark.
     The Davis brothers, William and Robert and Alexander Wiley used the Arbuckle land to pasture livestock, and did not reside upon it, as did James Thompson who owned the large tract upon which Captain Vincent Hobbs settled with his family in 1780. Thompson, who lived at the Townhouse in Chilhowie was a son-in-law of Col. Evan Shelby and had herdsmen who tended his and Shelby's cattle on the Turkey Cove land.

     These two land grants of McGaughy's and Massey's which were for the same tract of land caused two lawsuits in the Chancery Court of both Wythe and Augusta Counties, the first being Simon Ely vs Davis, and the second in Wythe being between the heirs of James Arbuckle vs Davis and Wiley. 

     Who was this James Arbuckle, Sr? He came into Augusta County, Virginia around 1745. He had a wife and two sons, Matthew and Thomas Arbuckle. He was serving in the militia prior to April 21, 1759, with the two sons serving as their father's servants. After the death of his first wife, James Arbuckle, Sr., married the above mentioned wife, Rachael, on January 11, 1762, and by her had at least one son, the James Arbuckle, Jr., heretofore mentioned.

     Matthew Arbuckle, son of James, Sr., by his first wife, was the famed Captain Matthew Arbuckle on James River who was in command at the murder of the Indian Chief Cornstalk. Matthew and his wife, Frances, who after his death in Greenbrier County, in 1781, married a man named Welch, had at least two sons, Charles and John Arbuckle.

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