The Powell Family

The purpose of this section is to make sense of what J. H. P. Adams wrote concerning his Powell ancestry. In doing so I believe I can reconcile some apparently contradictory statements about the family. As a result there is evidence suggesting another daughter for John Perrin, Sr.

The J. H. P. Adams accounts

Earlier I presented J. H. P. Adams' story concerning John Perrin and the death of Robert Ray's sister, John's wife. That story included George and Joseph Powell. In the same article Adams also reported a partial genealogy of the Powell family, starting from his mother, Anna Powell :

William Adams married Anna Powell August 27, 1826. She was a daughter of Joseph Powell. They had born to them the following children: Sarah Ann, September 12, 1827; Ellenora, November 9, 1829; Charles Powell, March 3, 1837; J. H. P., October 19, 1832; Rachel Jan, September 20, 1838; Joseph W., December 13, 1848; Lee Grand Harrrington, February 28, 1850...

Concerning Anna's father Joseph Powell he continued with a number of statements:

Joseph Powell was a son of George Powell, who was a son of Capt. John Powell, who came into the James river, June 19, 1619, in command of a frigate...

Joseph Powell married a daughter of John Perrin in the year 1765 or 6 (records destroyed by fire); their family was Archibald, Rachel, John, Robert, William and Anna, formerly called "Nancy". He was a member from Bedford county of the convention that adopted the constitution, February 5, 1790, and afterward a member of the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania. In 1784 Col. John Smith of the Seventh Virginia Regiment on his way back to Virginia had quarters in his house. In the latter part of his life he confined himself to his farm. In 1820 he passed from earth to that land eternal at the ripe old age of 99 years. His last words were: "I go to my rest till the angel sounds his trumpet when I will arise and come forth."...

The first white men that there is any account of coming in this part of the country was 1640. Thomas Powell, who, as captain of the Seafoam, came into the James river in the year 1620. He was a brother of John Powell. He fitted out an expedition to explore the western part of Virginia in 1625. His report was made to the ancestors of Martin L. Cressap:

"I have the pleasure of reporting to your highness that after going many days a little northwest through the wilderness we came to a high plateau of land which abounds in all kinds of game. We there camped and killed and ate our fill; when well rested, we continued about the same direction, when we came upon some water that drained northward; we followed it and it got bigger, when to our great chagrin we heard thunder noise. We were then close to a great mountain when all of a sudden it disappeared and from all of the noise I think it fell through the earth. I know not what to name is unless "Lost Water," as it can never again get to the top of ye earth, [this is now known as Lost River]; we then went towards the setting sun for two days when we came to other waters going toward the north star. We continued along its bank till it got much larger. We found it not so good traveling, and crossed to the other side. In doing these things we lost one of our men, George? South, which I much regret. We got him and of course buried him in his clothes, near a big pine tree which we marked. [This tree is said to be near the residence of a Mr. Blue.] We came on down this water two days' travel when we came to a large water. By making log rafts all got over safe, where we rested and fished two days. We took our course towards the north star one day's journey and came to another water as though is came from the north star; we followed it three day's travel; we came to where there were three waters come together, one was near the star. This water had a sweetish taste; was full of the most beautiful speckled fish we ever saw. There were lots of Indians here; they showed us all the friendship they could; we continued up this till we came to high ground; we went beyond the north star, then we turned and came back to the big water we had crossed. We followed it for many days, then we came to a great water which seemed to come from the high sun; we followed it till we came to water going towards the high noon; we followed it; we came to our own big water where we followed our trail home. I assign myself your humble servant. Captain Thomas Powell. October, 25th day, 1625."

This report was copied verbatim from the original in the hands of Martin L. Cresap of Skipton Mills, Md. There is no doubt that this report covers the waters of Town creek. This stream is formed from three other streams that bear the name of Big Sweet Root, Elk Creek which flows through the Huff property, and Brushy Fork, which heads in Monroe township. They all form a junction a short distance south of Chaneysville, in Southampton township.

George Powell was a brother of Joseph, who had his trading post on Little Sweet Root branch 1747, which rises in the lock of the mountain between Martin's Hill and Tussey's mountain and flows east through the gap of the mountain and empties in Big Sweet Root near Point Pleasant. It is this gap of the mountain in which George Powell discovered the saltpeter cave. Here Huff gathered his saltpeter for Jacob Rowland to make powder for the use of the Continental army during the war of 1775-80.

J. H. P. Adams obviously included descriptions of events that could not have happened. Like the Perrin legend, I want to make sense out of this record so as to discover who Joseph, George, Thomas and John Powell really were. The clearest way to do so is to start with Joseph.

Joseph Powell

Historical Record

Joseph Powell appeared in the 1800 and 1810 census in Colerain (later Southampton) Township, Bedford County. In 1820 the head of that household was Sarah Powell, so Adams was probably correct in saying that Joseph died that year. Joseph's ages in the two census reports were highly inconsistent.

Adams was incorrect when he stated his ancestor Joseph Powell attended the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention. That Joseph lived most of his life in Bethel Township and died in Bedford in 1804 .

Joseph Powell surveyed 232 acres of land in Colerain Township in 1790 . This tract was in the Sweet Root Gap about a mile west of Chaneysville on the road towards Rainsburg (Its southern border was Sweet Root Run, a branch of Town Creek. The name of this stream apparently reflects the sweet taste of the water caused by saltpeter). Thus it was 4 miles north of the Perrin land in Black Valley Gap, as shown below. Joseph was first assessed in the township in 1793 .

Powell land near Chaneysville

Sites of Powell, Roland and Adams (red) land near Chaneysville, Southampton (Colerain) Township, Bedford County

Wives and Children

There are several biographical histories which chronicle the family of Archibald Powell . They all stated that Archibald, the son of Joseph Powell, moved from Bedford County to Franklin County, Ohio in 1815. An apparently complete list of Joseph's children was recorded by Archibald's son Joseph . There is another list of children from the April, 1832 Orphan's Court in Bedford County, Pa. when Jacob Adams petitioned the court regarding Joseph's property . The table to follow compares these two lists to the list given by J. H. P. Adams and one later from his daughter Josephine Nycum .

Name Birth date Ohio
List (1880)
List (1832)
List (1900)
List (1936)
Mary Aug 3, 1781 x Probably died before 1798
George Feb 19, 1783 x x Moved to Ohio by 1805
Archibald Dec 1, 1784 x x x Married Elizabeth Adams
Moved to Ohio 1815
Birth confirmed by grave stone
Joseph Dec 7, 1786 x x Birth confirmed by grave stone
Moved to Ohio, 1815?
Sarah Feb 2, 1789 x x x Married Charles Chaney
Elizabeth Mar 10, 1791 x Probably died before 1832
Thomas Feb 2, 1793 x x Died "on waters of Town Creek"
Mary Nov 17, 1798 x x x Married George P. Stevenson
Rachel Dec 27, 1799 x x x x Married Jacob Adams
John Sept 3, 1801 x x x x Still in Pennsylvania in 1832
Married Elizabeth Gains
Removed to Seneca County, Ohio
Jonathan Mar 23, 1803 x Probably died before 1832
William July 1, 1805 x x x
Robert Sept 15, 1807 x x x x Still in Pennsylvania in 1832
Moved to Seneca County, Ohio,
Married Chloe Chaney
Susannah Mar 5, 1809 x x Probably died before 1832
Nancy Nov 6, 1810 x x x x William Adams married Anna or Margaret Powell, 1826
David Jan 6, 1813 x x x Moved to Seneca County, Ohio,
Married Rachel Chaney

In comparison to the list of children from Archibald's descendants or from the Orphan's Court record, it seems neither Nycum or Adams had much knowledge of Joseph Powell's early children. I can presume that the first Mary Powell had died before 1798, as the family reused this given name, and that Nycum knew only of the second Mary Powell. Similarly the absence of Elizabeth, Jonathan and Susannah from the 1832 probate rrecords implies strongly that these three children had already died at that time. Possibly J. H. P. Adams knew of Archibald and Rachel because they had married members of the Adams family. Nycum may have possessed a family Bible which only included the later children .

Archibald's son Jacob B. Powell also stated that Joseph Powell married a daughter of Archibald McCoy in Maryland . Indeed Archibald McCoy in Washington County, Maryland mentioned his daughter Rachel Powell when he wrote his will in 1804 . On the other hand Nycum stated Joseph Powell married Sarah Perrin . I think it likely that both statements are correct, and that Sarah married Joseph Powell after 1805. This would help explain the incomplete listing of children by Adams and Nycum.

Given the ages of Joseph's children I reckon he was born before 1760. The birthdates for sons Archibald and Joseph were confirmed on their grave stones in Truro Township, Franklin County, Ohio .

Thomas Powell

Joseph Powell probably was the son of Thomas Powell in Frederick (Washington) County, Maryland. There is a fair amount of information about his family, due to land records and his will.

Historical Record

Powell and McCoy lands along Antietam Creek

Antietam Land tracts belonging to
Thomas Powell (Biddlecomes Content, First Choice, Contiguous to Roots Hole)
Charles Chaney (Rich Hill, Cadiz)
John McCoy (Neglect)
and William Kelley (Kellys Chance, Chaneys Delight)

Most records of Thomas concern his dealings with land. He patented First Choice in 1753  and Biddlecoms Content in 1763 . The surveys for both of these properties begin on the west side of Antietam Creek. Two resurveys of First Choice in 1766  and 1767  added 240 acres; these surveys began east of the Creek.The location of these lands is shown on the map above.

The map also shows the properties for two of Thomas Powell's neighbors; the McCoys and the Kellys, both of whom lived a mile or two upstream on Antietam Creek. I am indebted to John Drye for pointing out the location of Neglect, whose outline is still visible on current satellite images. Neglect was surveyed for John McCoy in 1739   and his son Archibald McCoy was assessed for Neglect in 1783 . Immediately south and north of Neglect are lands that were patented by the Kelly family, including Cheneys Delight, the Resurvey on Chaneys Delight, and Rutting Spring. Chaneys Delight apparently first belonged to Charles Cheney . William Kelley stated in his will that his property was adjacent to Archibald McCoy . The significance of these neighbors is twofold. First, Joseph Powell was said to have married a McCoy. But also both John McCoy and William Kelly are thought to be the fathers of John Perrin, Jr.'s second and third wives, as discussed in an earlier section.)

Wives and Children

Thomas Powell's will was proved in 1776 . The entire will is as follows:

I, Thomas Powell Senr of Frederick County in the Province of Maryland Farmer

First I appoint and ordain my beloved Son George Powell my whole and Sole executor

Secondly I give and bequeath my dear Wife Sarah one third part of my Personal Estate

Thirdly I give and bequeath to my beloved Son George Powell Beddlessomes Content containing forty seven and a half acres; also a tract of land called Smithborough containing fifty acres, also a tract of land called Hopewell containing two hundred acres Also I give and bequeath to my beloved son George Powell two thirds part of my personal estate

Fourthly I give and bequeath to my beloved Daughter Elizabeth Cheney Five Shillings Current Money and no more

Fifthly I give and bequeath unto the Heirs of my beloved Son John Powell Five Shillings Current Money and no more

Sixthly I give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Mary Mackelfish Five Shillings Current Money and no more

Seventhly I give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Ann Jasper Five Shillings Current Money and no more

Eighthly I give and bequeath unto my beloved Son Thomas Powell Five Shillings Current Money and no more

Ninthly I give and bequeath unto my beloved Son Joseph Powell Fifty Pounds current Money and no more it to be paid by my beloved Son George Powell unto my beloved Son Joseph Powell when he shall come to the Age of eighteen years

Tenthly I give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Sarah Powell Fifty Pounds current Money and no more it to be paid to my beloved Daughter Sarah Powell by my beloved Son Joseph Powell when [she] shall come to the Age of Sixteen years

Eleventhly I give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Rachel Powell Fifty pounds current Money to be paid to my said Daughter Rachel Powell by my said Son George Powell when she shall come to the Age of Sixteen Years and no more

Twelfthly I give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Mary Powell Fifty pounds current Money and no more to be paid to my said Daughter Mary Powell by my said son George Powell when she shall come to the Age of Sixteen Years

Thirteenthly I give and bequeath unto beloved Son John Powell by my Second Wife Fifty pounds current Money and no more to be paid unto my said Son John Powell by my said Son Joseph Powell at the Age of Sixteen Years of Age

Fourteenthly I give and bequeath unto my Dear Child that my Dear Wife is great now with Fifty Pounds Current Money if it should live to the age aforesaid and no More

Fiftheenthly I also order and desire that if my Son George Powell should die and leave no Issue then I desire that my dear Son Joseph Powell should be his Heir to Act and enjoy the same as he should do if he was there present

Signed Thomas Powell, Sen

Wit. Thomas Benson, Peter Diol, Alex'r Falconar

The widow Sarah Powell is satisfied with will

Property deeds showed that Thomas' first wife Elizabeth was alive in 1767  and that Thomas had married Sarah by 1771 . The older children in the will, George through Thomas, would have been born before 1758.

I am told that George married Mary McCoy . He remained in the Antietam area until 1810, according to the census. Son Thomas Powell may have moved to Kentucky, as a Missouri biographical history stated :

Powell - Thomas Powell and Nancy Chaney, his wife, were natives of Maryland, but settled in Nicholas county, Ky. in 1796. They had eleven children.

Joseph Powell was born after 1758 according to Thomas' will. With the additional children listed I think it unlikely that he was born after 1765. The timing for son Joseph is quite consistent with the estimate I made above for the Joseph Powell of Southampton Township in Bedford County. Also in synchrony is the 1790 census for Washington County, Maryland, where Joseph Powell with a wife, three sons and two daughters can be found immediately below George Powell and family. Even the number of children for Joseph in that census is in agreement with the list of Joseph's children given later by Jacob B. Powell . So I feel reasonably certain that this is the right family for J. H. P. Adams' ancestors.

John Powell(s)

On the basis of the discussion so far I can draw the following family tree for the sons of Thomas Powell (putting in the male children only, to make viewing easier):

This is a strange family tree. There are two sons for Thomas named John. While throughout this genealogy (including above and below in this section) there have been examples of siblings receiving the same names, this usually occurred when the older sibling had already died. In this case it would seem unlikely that the first John had died early in life, as Thomas Powell's will refers to John's "heirs". I can rightly assume that the first John Powell had married, and had children, before 1775.

Antietam records

The first record for John Powell in Antietum Creek was the survey of Hard Weather on April, 1750 . This 47 acre property was never patented, but its survey corresponds to a region overlapping Biddlecoms Content. John's survey predated Thomas' survey for Biddlecoms Content , suggesting both men may have arrived in the region together.

Chaplin's 1757 musters   discussed elsewhere are of help here. The rolls listed:

John Powell (25 days) Joseph Chaplin's muster no. 1
John Powel, Junr. (6 days) Joseph Chaplin's muster no. 4
John Powell (55 days) Moses Chaplin's muster no. 1
John Powell, Corp'l (3 days) Moses Chaplin's muster no. 3

I think it likely two persons shared all of this militia duty. The rosters support the existence of two John Powells, father and son, living in the Antietam region in 1757.

In February, 1767 John Powell purchased First Choice, 50 acres, and 7.5 acres, of Bedlams Content from Thomas Powell . In June of the same year John Powell leased 100 acres of land, "previously been taken up by Thomas Powell," to Martin Zeitner . In the body of this lease and in his signature John called himself John Powell, Junior.

I believe these records support the existence of a John Powell, Sr. who was probably Thomas Powell's older brother. Earlier and further east, in present day Frederick County, Maryland, there was a John Powell who signed a petition dated 1742 advocating the formation of All Saints' Parish . Similarly John Powell is listed in the Taxables of Monocosie Hundred in 1733 . This probably is the same John Powell who leased land in 1734 from Charles Carroll in the Monocacy Valley . The hundred acres leased was part of a large tract named Carrolton, located on the west side of Monocacy Creek near the Potomac. The terms were for twenty one years, with rents starting at eight shillings, four pence annually for the first seven years, doubling for the next seven and tripling for the last seven.

John's son John Powell, Jr., born by 1741 to have served in the 1757 millitia, may have lived with Thomas Powell's family after his father's death. Thomas accordingly may had considered John, Jr. his adopted son. The property transactions cited above imply to me that John Powell, Jr. left the Antietam Creek valley in 1767.

So I think there is enough evidence to put together a modified family tree for the Powells:

Little Tonoloway records

In 1775 John Powell purchased Killams Advantage from Edward, John and Joseph Perryn . In the deed proper the buyer was named John Powell, Jr., so it would appear that the Perrin brothers knew him by that name. For the rest of this section I will follow the convention of simply calling him John.

John Powell lands along Little Tonoloway

John Powell's properties in Maryland and Pennsylvania
The road through Sideling Hill led to Chaneysville and Bedford
Placement of Little Water and Dry Level are speculative

John Powell had lived in the Tonoloway region since at least 1772. That winter the Bedford County court considered a

petition of George Brent and others, setting forth the necessity of a road from Bedford to the Little Tonnollaways near John Powell's.

Also in 1774, a property survey for Hynes Belt located along Little Tonoloway stated that the tract was "about Three Quarters of a Mile from John Powels house." .

John Powell was assessed for Kellams Advantage in 1783 .Later John surveyed more property in Maryland, including Hilly Ground (1790) , Little Water (1791) , Dry Level (1793)  and Bulwark to Hilly Ground (1793) .

John Powel also mentioned in his will  a tract of

Bedford County land situated near the foot of Sideling Hill, where the Pack Horse road and the new road cross it

Survey of Yarmouth, 1791

This tract, named Yarmouth, was surveyed in 1791 . However, tax records from Bethel Township, Bedford County identified this 50 acres specifically with John Powell in 1784 , and probably also mentioned it in assessments from 1774 through 1776 .

The map above locates all of these tracts. Both Yarmouth and Kellams Advantage are on the road from present day Hancock to Chaneysville and Bedford that is shown here.

Roads of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, 1860
Library of Congress

I believe John Powell had a business transporting goods from Maryland west, perhaps using his Pennsylvania land as pasture for pack horses before they ascended Sideling Hill.

Wife and Children

John Powell died by 1806; his will was probated February 10, 1807. I have abstracted it below :

To wife Susannah:
tracts Kellam's Advantage, The Hilly Ground, The Bulwark to Hilly Ground (whereon I now live), two mares, all furniture and farmer utensils, likewise all household and kitchen furniture (except the bed given to son Thomas)
to son William:
the Bedford County land situated near the foot of Sideling Hill, where the Pack Horse road and the new road cross it, and one cow
to son John: the Bedford County land where he lives
to son Andrew: tracts Little Water (where he now lives) and Dry Level
to son Thomas:
his wife's land upon her demise, also all of her personal property at that time, also one horse (known by the name Thomas' horse), one cow, two sheep, one bed furniture
to daughter Hannah Fedler:  
5 shillings
to daughter
Sarah Linn:
5 shillings
to daughter Ann Harmason:  
5 shillings
to daughter Charity Powell:  
50 pounds, one loom and tackling, two sheep
executrix: Susannah Powell

The will named wife Susannah, four sons and four daughters. Susannah was probably born Susannah Hines, daughter of Powell's neighbor William Hines. She was called Susannah Powell in William's will in 1782 ..

Peter Powell

One other Powell family appeared in Antietam later. Peter Powell was listed in the 1790 census three lines before George and Joseph Powell. Accordingly he was at least 16 years old (born before 1774), the head of a household, married, and without children.

Peter conducted several property transactions. In the first two, in 1789, he and Jeremiah Chaney traded 2 acres of First Choice for 6 acres of Contiguous with Roots Hole . Then in 1795 Peter sold portions of First Choice, Beddlecoms Content and Contiguous with Roots Hole to George Powell and John Shafer . Then Peter's wife Rachel relinquished her dower; she had not been mentioned in the previous deeds.

The metes and bounds of First Choice and Beddlecoms Content sold coincided precisely with the land sold by Thomas Powell to John Powell (Jr.) in 1767 . These two properties were also conspicuously absent from the land Thomas Powell bequeathed in his will . For Peter to have come into possession of these tracts he must have been the son of John Powell, Jr. Therefore Peter would be one of the "heirs of my Son John" mentioned in Thomas Powell's will. To me this implies that in 1775, when John Powell lived in Tonoloway, Peter lived in Antietam. I believe Thomas and his wives may have raised him.

Peter Powell was in Washington County, Kentucky by 1800, thought to have moved there along with some of his Antietam neighbors the Worlands. His will, proved 1826, mentioned his wife Rachel and his oldest son John .

The Adams Account Revisited

J. H. P. Adams' knowledge of his family became less accurate beyond his mother's generation. He mistook her father Joseph Powell for a more renowned person of the same name.

Going back from that point the lineage J. H. P. Adams gave for the Powell family reminds me of Genesis; each Powell would have needed to have lived extremely long lives to fit into a nearly three hundred year period of time. But the names of J. H. P. used for his ancestors, Joseph, George, John and Thomas, agree precisely with the names I have found in the historical Powell family. Furthermore there are specific pieces fitted into Adams' narrative which are true:.

  1. Thomas Powell was the brother of John.
  2. George was a brother of Joseph.

What else remains in the Adams narrative which, because of their inability to fit into the rest of the story, may in fact be nuggets of truth?

Joseph Powell married a daughter of John Perrin in the year 1765 or 6 (records destroyed by fire)

This statement does not fit into any of Adams' legends. It does not even fit into Adams' own description of Joseph Powell. But the statement is extremely specific.

I have already clarified the later marriage of Sarah Perrin and Joseph Powell. What other possibilities exist for a marriage between a Powell and a Perrin around 1765? For that time period she would need to be a daughter of John Perrin, Sr. Furthermore, as she was not mentioned in the will John Perrin wrote in the fall of 1769, she should have died by then.

John Powell (Jr.) is the best candidate for a marriage to a Perrin daughter between 1765 and 1769. John Powell had lived on Perrin land for several years before purchasing it, a privilege otherwise only given to the Lazears, who actually were kin. If John Powell, Jr. had married in 1765, his wife's subsequent death could leave children who would be raised by grandparents. Then their inclusion in Thomas Powell's will would make sense. Meanwhile John may have started a new life with a second wife, Susannah Hines, in Little Tonoloway.

So I believe that John Perrin, Sr. had a third daughter who married John Powell, Jr. in 1765 or 1766. There was at least one child, Peter Powell, born to this marriage before her death by 1770.