James K. Perrin and Town Creek

I have already discussed Thomas Perrin, his life through 1820, and his putative wife Sally. So far I have examined the fate of eight of his children. A ninth, Eliza, exists only in the anonymous family record presented earlier; her death was given as 1837. Now it is time to discuss Thomas' later years and his other two sons, James K. and Upton Perrin.

Town Creek by 1840

1840 census excerpt

Excerpt of 1840 census record from Town Creek

The 1840 census record shows the two Perrin sons living next door to each other. James K. in this record is between 30 and 40 years of age. His birth date was actually March 25, 1809, as posted in the anonymous genealogy for Thomas Perrin's family; this is inscribed as well on his grave stone in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. In 1835 he married Ann Letitia Athey, born March 6, 1813 . There were two children in the household by 1840. But others are living there. The man in his seventies would be Thomas Perrin, who the anonymous record states lived until 1847; his wife had apparently died by this time. The second woman in her twenties in this household will prove to be Ann's sister, Susan F. (Foster) Athey, born April 13, 1815. Note that Thomas Perrin's wife is not found in this census, so she died between 1830 and 1840.

Next door was Upton Perrin, born in 1814 and married on September 20, 1837 to Nancy Newman . He had one son and one daughter at this point. Immediately above Upton was Mark Stuart, husband of Thomas' daughter Deborah, with their ten children.

Missing from this census are a number of the original settlers of the valley. William McLaughlin had died in 1834  and his wife Laney some time after that, leaving his son Berriman living with seven of his siblings at the McLaughlin homestead in 1840. Lewis Crabtree similarly had died in 1834 , with his wife Catherine still occupying the original house in 1840; however his sons had received various portions of his extensive properties. Finally, George French had died in 1831 , leaving his wife Jane French and his daughter Pheobe, now married to Lewis Shryock.

It is a helpful digression to look at George French's estate records from 1835  for a number of reasons. He was an affluent man, so it is possible to see from his accounts what constituted wealth in the Maryland countryside at the time. You can look at the original images of them here. His estate inventory (conducted by Thomas Perrin and son-in-law Mark Stewart), while containing some livestock and perhaps 20 acres of wheat in the ground, is most notable for the accumulation of tools, furniture and appliances such as a candle maker and waffle iron. From a local store there are his unpaid accounts from 1831 for luxuries such as sugar, coffee, spices, even chocolate, as well as staples such as rice and muslin. The estate itself was billed by Mart Stewart 75 cents for two gallons of whiskey, presumably consumed at his funeral.

Missing from the census record shown above is the slave schedule. None of Thomas Perrin's immediate neighbors owned slaves in 1840; but two owned slaves in 1830. William McLaughlin owned one young male; George French, two females. In his will George freed one of his slaves, Grace. The inventory shows the second slave, named Calya, age about fifteen, worth $250. This would be equivalent to six young horses in the same assessment, and constitued a third of the value of the whole estate valued at $776.

land tracts in Town Creek, 1840

Land owners in lower Town Creek, circa 1840

The Methodist Church in Town Creek

There is not a lot of other public information regarding Thomas after 1830. Outside of the deeds and wills discussed below, I have only one record: Allegany County designated Thomas as the supervisor of county road no. 10, "From John Crabtrees to the District line between 7 & 9" in 1837 and 1838 .

But then in 1837 there was an unusual deed involving the Perrins :

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At the request of Thomas Perrian & others this deed was recorded this 5th day of May 1837

This Indenture made this seventh day of March in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and thirty seven Between Lewis G. Shryock and Phebe Shryock his wife and Jane French widow of George French deceased of the one part and Thomas Perrin James K. Perrin Nathan Wilson Isaiah McLaughlin and Thomas R. C. Martin all of Allegany County and State of Maryland Trustees in trust for the uses and purposes herein aftermentioned of the other part Witnesseth that the said Lewis G. Shryock and Phebe Shryock his wife and Jane French widow of George French dec'd for in consideration of the sum of one dollar specie, to them in hand paid at and upon the sealing and delivery of these presents; the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, have given granted bargained sold released confirmed and conveyed, and by these presents do give grant bargain sell release, confirm and convey unto them the said Thomas Perrin Jas. K. Perrin Nathan Wilson, Isaiah McLaughlin and Thomas R. C. Martin and their successors (Trustees in trust for the uses and purposes herein after mentioned and declared) all the estate right, title interest property, claim and demand whatsoever in law or equity which they, the said Lewis G. Shryock and Phebe Shryock his wife and Jane French widow of George French dec'd have in, to, or upon all and singular a certain lot or piece of land, situate, lying and being in the County and State aforesaid, bounded and butted as follows, to wit;

With this deed George French's son-in-law Lewis Shryock, his wife Phebe, and the widow Jane French sold one half acre of land to Thomas Perrin, James K. Perrin, Nathan Wilson, Isaiah McLaughlin, and Thomas R. C. Martin for one dollar, for the expressed purpose "that they shall erect and build, or cause to be created and built thereon a house or place of Worship, for the use of the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America." Furthermore it gives a good enough description of the property to allow some guesses as to its location:

Begining at a stone standing on the west side of the Town Creek road, and about one hundred and fifty yards North west from the dwelling house of said Lewis G. Shryock and running paralel with the said Road North twenty eight degrees West ten perches...

The survey suggests that some of the boundary was coincident with the boundary between the French and Crabtree land. The Crabtree family at that point owned the third portion of Crabtree Folly as well as a second tract, Lewis and Phebe west of Town Creek valley. It is possible to align the tract described above with the border between the French land and Lewis and Phebe. The map below shows a possible location; it could just as well be anywhere along that land boundary, but satelite images suggest this as the most likely spot.

Similar deeds were drawn up elsewhere in Allegany county, typically using the same boilerplate language regarding ownership and its transfer within the trustees of the church. The driving force for this movement was probably Lenox Martin; Lenox had even hosted Francis Asbury when he came through Old Town in 1808 . By 1837 Lenox was a Justice of the Peace for Allegany County, and his son R. C. Martin was one of the church trustees on the deed above.

Membership lists are available for both 1838, and February, 1840 for the Methodist Church in Allegany County. The first list is best looked at in the original transcription , because I believe, through some misunderstanding, its rendition on some internet sites is incorrect. The original page 13 of this document looks like this:

Register of Member Names 1838
(Alleghany Circuit)
Flintstone Benjamin Wigfield
Rebecca do
260 Elizabeth Mose
Darkey Willison
Amy do
Nelly Welfish
Nancy Lahmen
Moses do
Adam Switzer
  Wm. Tipton removed to West
Mary Tipton do   do   do
Mary King
270 David House
Priscilla Switzer
Crabtrees Thomas Perrin
James Perrin
Leony McLaughlin
Phebe Shryoch
Catherine Crabtree
Elizabeth McLaughlin
Mary McLaughlin
Leony McLaughlin
280 Rosana McLaughlin
Deborah McLaughlin
Isaiah do
Elizabeth Dean
Benjamin McLaughlin
Nancy Hoover
George McLaughlin
Lewis Shryock

The word "do" stands for ditto. On the left hand side of the page are numbers which are a running total of the number of members. The way I read this page is that there are two separate congregations, one in Flintstone, the other known as the "Crabtrees".

James K. Perrin was called a class leader in the 1838 lists. In 1840 this congregation was relabeled "Town Creek" and now included two of the Stewart children, three Bucys, four Twiggs, as well as Ann Lititia Perrin and Sarah F. Athey . The remaining Atheys were associated with a different congregation on Green Ridge.

Later land documents show this church named Paradise, and to be in election district #3 as of 1939 , which would place it south of Bear Hollow. The church may have been also used as a school house, for the Allegany County lists of school houses included, starting in 1837, "Shryocks Meeting House" . The supervisor for this school was Jas. K. Perrin, starting in 1837 and continuing through 1840 .

The Fate of Upton

Following the formation of the Methodist Church, Thomas sold the Crabtree Folly land to James K. and Upton in June, 1839 . James K. patented Pine Orchard, Wheat Hill, Buck's Lodge and Plenty of Timber, properties which had been previously surveyed for Thomas Perrin but never officially patented, in 1840 . The locations and surveys for these properties were discussed above. What occurred next in the land records I do not entirely understand. In 1843 it is recorded that Upton sold his share of Crabtree Folly back to Thomas . Following that entry is the sale of Upton's other possessions . As this coincides with the previously reported time of Thomas Perrin's death in March, 1847, I assume that Upton had just inherited his share of the land back, and was selling it again. To me all of this implies that Upton was unable to work, possibly due to injury or sickness, for a number of years. His date of death in the anonymous Thomas Perrin genealogy was 1849.

Upton's father-in-law Ralph Newman was in the 1850 census in Springfield Township, Hampshire County, (West) Virginia, age 62, occupation toll keeper, with two children named Hannah and Ralph, ages twelve and seven respectively. This is rather odd, since he and his wife had no children in the 1840 census. Ralph's will of 1855 has been abstracted , and it referred to "Hannah, Charles Wesley, and Ralph Perrin, children of Upton Perrin and grandchildren of Sally, Ralph's wife". There is no clear reference in any of this to Upton's wife Nancy. In the 1860 census these three children can be found under their original names. Hannah and Ralph Parrin were living with Sarah (Sally) Newman in Springfield Township. Meanwhile, Charles was probably the "Westley Parrin" found in the Western District of the same county.

Both Charles Wesley and Ralph were in Company A of the 33rd Regiment, Virginia Infantry in the Civil War on the Confederate side . They enlisted on June 6, 1861, and both of them spent at least a month in the hospital at Charlottesville later that year. For Ralph the diagnosis was measles. These records clearly state that Rolph G. Perrin was killed in the second battle of Manassas (Bull Run), Virginia in August 26, 1862. Charles W. was hospitalized a second time on April 26, 1862 at the C. S. A. General Hospital, Charlottesville, Virginia. There was no record of his discharge, and others have stated that he died there . For the sake of controversy I will point out an entry in the 1870 census, Lebanon Township, Meigs County, Ohio that lists Charles W. Perrine, age 29, and Maria Perrine, age 49, born in West Virginia and Virginia, respectively. These ages certainly fit well for Charles and his mother; I at this point have decided that Nancy is a nickname for almost any female in the nineteenth century, and I am not uncomfortable with the name Maria for this woman. I do not know how Hannah turned out.

The Fate of James K.

After Thomas Perrin's death in 1847 there is very limited information about James K. and his family in Maryland. They do not appear in the 1850 census. It is known that In 1852 James K. and Ann L. Perrin sold all of the Maryland Perrin land to Amos McKelfish for $1400 sold all of the Perrin land to Amos McKelfish for $1400. Amos was a speculator in land  and probaby did not reside there, for in 1853 he sold the land to Jasper Huff for $1900 .

While it cannot be said for certain how James and his family lived until appearing in Brownsville, Pennsylvania in 1860, there are some clues. They undoubtedly were somewhere in Maryland. James K. Perrin was still on an 1851 attendence list for an undetermined Methodist congregation in the Allegany Circuit . In 1856 Ann and James K. of Allegany County, Maryland sold, to her brother George Athey, Ann's share of her inheritance from their father John Athey . James' and Ann's youngest child Mary was born in Maryland in 1853, according to her death record .

Then on June 23, 1859 there was an obituary for Ann L. Perrin in the Cumbeland Civilian and Telegraph :


On the 15th inst., at her residence in Pratt’s Hollow, Mrs. Ann Letitia Perrin, wife of James K. Perrin, aged 46 years, 8 months and 9 dayw. She was deeply and severly afflicted for 5 years, which she bore with christian patience and fortitude. She has left a loving husbnd and seven affectionate children to mourn their irretrievable loss. She died with aglorious [sic] hope of immortality and eternal. life.

The obituary may answer the question of where, but I would like to try to answer the corollaries of how and why. To do this I must try to extract as much information as possible from the historical record.


Ann’s obituary located the Perrin residence to Pratt's Hollow. Topographically it is a valley located thee miles east of Flintstone, as the crow flies, on the east side of Polish Mountain. It extends from the foot of that mountain down to Fifteen Mile Creek. The National Road (technically the Cumberland Pike) follows this valley on its way towards Hancock. The Hollow itself is too narrow to afford any living space; the Perrins must have lived either at the bottom of the Hollow (in the valley for Fifteen Mile Creek) or at its top, labelled just as Pratt on modern maps. I favor the latter location, given the land history I describe below.

The first person to patent land in this valley was Nimrod Bright in 1796, with Nimrods Adventure surveyed in 1792  for Gerrard Dannison. This tract, shown outlined in yellow below, took up the upper Hollow and the flat land above. This tract was sold to Thomas Pratt of Frederick County, Maryland in 1800 . The next 20 years of land patents are confusing, but by 1820 Pratt had bought up almost all of the surrounding land, consolidating these in his Resurvey of Pleasant Hills . The map below shows that tract outlined in red.

land tracts in Pratt's Hollow

Pratt and Vicinity. Polish Mountain is in the upper left quadrant; Fifteen Mile Creek is to the east of the map. The Cumberland Pike is accented in black. Tracts: Nimrods Adventure(yellow), Resurvey of Pleasant Hills (red). Land sold to the Cumberland Pike (green) and to Sarah Stewart (purple) also shown.

In 1820 Pratt sold a portion of Nimrods Adventure to the Cumberland Turnpike . This plat was a 500 feet long and 75 feet wide rectangle which presumably contained the road itself; the deed stated Pratt’s residence was at its northwest end. In 1827 Pratt sold a 7 and one half acre portion of Pleasant Hills to Peter Haughey

Beginning at a red oak sapling standing on the north side of the Turnpike Road and on the south side of a run leading from the east side of the Polish mountain to fifteen mile creek, a draught of the Potomac river and about eight perches from the dwelling house of Sarah and Margaret Stewart

Haughey sold the same land, for the same price, eighteen months later to Susan Stewart . Finally, in 1826 and 1831 Pratt sold the bulk of his remaing land to Philip Fletcher .

Philip Fletcher

While absolutely nothing is known about Peter Haughey, the two other landowners in this region discussed so far prove to be related by marriage to James K. Perrin.

Philip Fletcher was born around 1768 according to the 1850 census. He was listed as a taxpayer in Colerain, then Southampton Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania from 1797 to 1831 . His residence then, along with several brothers and/or sons, was in the same valley as John Perrin’s lands; an 1833 deed said they lived between the Bennett and Stewart lands . Philip was most probably the brother of Mary Fletcher, who married Joseph, the son of John Perrrin, Jr., between 1795 and 1800.

Philip apparently never owned property until 1824 . His first purchase, from Joseph Pratt, included New Gardenand its Resurvey, located in the Town Creek valley just north of Thomas Perrin’s property. These he sold to Mark Stewart in exchange for the land Mark had recently inherited in Pennsylvania from his father Thomas . Philip sold that land in conjunction with Mark’s brother Robert in 1829 .

In Maryland Philip was in the 1840 and 1850 census, with one and four slaves, respectively. He stated in 1850 that his occupation was innkeeper. The Methodist Allegany Circuit listed "Fletcher's" as a location for one of its congregations in 1851. Philip Fletcher died in 1855. His estate inventory was extensive, particularly in regards to kitchenware . He was survived by eight sons, with son John the executor .

In short, Philip Fletcher was the brother of James K. Perrin’s aunt, and had sold land to James K.'s brother-in-law.

Sarah Stewart

Sarah Stewart stated in her will that she lived with the children of her sister Margaret . This relationship makes identifying their origin easier: the will of Thomas Stewart of Southampton Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania from 1820 lists two sons (Mark and Robert) who inherited his properties, and four daughters (Lois, Sarah, Margaret and Rueye) who received one horse and one cow each. His other children, presumably all out on their own by that point, are to "be satisfied with what they already received" .

On that basis, Sarah Stewart was Mark Stewart’s brother, and therefore a sister-in-law through marriage to James K. Perrin.

The deeds in Pratt Hollow imply that Margaret Stewart died between the time Peter Haughey bought the 7.5 acres from Pratt (1827) and its sale in 1829. Sarah Stewart died in February, 1846; in her will she listed two nieces Laurna and Julia still living with her, and one nephew James who was not . I do not know 1) if Margaret was a Stewart, or had married a son of Thomas Stewart who subsequently died, 2) if Margaret then might originally have been a Fletcher, 3) how Margaret and Sarah ended up living on Pratt’s land, or 4) what Peter Haughey had to do with anything.

The executor for Sarah’s estate was John Fletcher, the son of Philip. The estate inventory was sold off by March, 1846 . The final accounting for her estate was filed on March 9, 1847 . However, there was no mention of her real estate in any of these documents filed with the Orphans Court. Then in 1855 John filed an additional report, stating that Sarah’s property had been sold to his brother David Fletcher for $110 on March 30, 1847 . But this sale was never filed with the deed registrar. The property was then officially sold by John Fletcher to neighbor Henry Elbin in 1857 for the same price ; Elbin ultimately sold it in October, 1859 to Henry Littlefield . The 1860 census suggests that Henry and wife Rachel (Egshaw) did actually occupy the property.


It seems probable that James K. and family were able to move to Pratt’s Hollow for a reason. Looking at the known occupants of that location in the late 1840s I see an opportunity for the Perrin family to occupy a vacant house, that of Sarah Stewart, deceased. While it is possible that the documents filed with the Orphan’s Court tell the true story of Sarah’s property, it seems odd to me that there was not better documentation of its sale, or receipts for further payments to her heirs. This sort of postponed sale strikes me as one family (the Fletchers) waiting to see if their relatives (here the Perrins) will end up buying.

It could be that only with the death of Philip Fletcher in 1855 did the dynamics change. But by then there is a sick family member in the Perrin household to consider. Only once the Perrins move out to Brownsville, conceivably in the summer of 1859 following Ann’s death, is there a final sale of the Sarah Stewart property.

Of course all of this is fiction on my part. It would help to know where Ann Letitia Perrin is buried to strengthen this story. The Perrin memorial in the Bridgeport Cemetery, Brownsville, Pennsylvania includes her name, noting that she was buried in Flintstone, Maryland. The Athey genealogy states that as well . Ann's burial could be in the Huff Cemetery located in Pine Orchard above Town Creek. Aside from four stones dating from 1880 - 1920 there are a number of field stones there which appear to mark graves that are much older. A few photographs of some of them are here.

Photographs from Huff Cemeterey, May, 2011

But her remains may also lie in Pratt's Hollow, either in the Robinette Cemetery along the National Road, or slightly up the hill in the Thomas Stewart cemetery; Thomas, who married Rebecca Fletcher in 1852, had likely settled there by 1855.


By 1850 intermountain Maryland had changed markedly. The people migrating to Allegany County were going to the new urban or mining areas in the western part of the county. Agriculture was not sufficiently lucrative for the farmers in mountain Maryland to survive in a wider market economy. The lands to the west of the mountains produced better yields, and the railroad meant easy transportation for grain. Indeed, the completion of the railroad to Cumberland in 1847 meant that the National Road through Flintstone was no longer the major arterial that it had been for the previous twenty-five years.

Thomas Perrin could successfully run a homestead in Town Creek in the same way his father John Perrin, Jr. had. Thomas, like John, Jr., had a large family of children who could do the work. But agrarian success may mean that the family expectations were barely above subsidence level.

Circumstances were quite different fifty years later. Thomas' older children had moved away to farm in greener pastures. Only James K., Upton and Deborah remained in Town Creek by 1840. Upton probably became disabled and died before 1850, his wife and family moving in with maternal relatives. Deborah left in 1847.

In 1850 James K. faced managing a 200 acre farm with a wife and six children, five of which were under ten years in age. While this demographic was the same that his father Thomas' family faced in 1800, James K. could not have seen a promising future. He therefore chose a solution which, in looking at other genealogies in my ancestry, was picked sooner or later by each family. Indeed, almost every family in the United States ultimately came to the same solution: move into town. How this played out for James K. and his family will be the subject of the next section.