William Logan, “Clench / Clinch,” and Illegitimacy

Most William Logan (of Spotsylvania County, Virginia) researchers believe the court alias “Clench” or “Clinch” refers to illegitimacy. So do some impartial (non-Logan) Virginia researchers. Let me quote one, Ann Avery Hunter. This correspondence with Ann is from nearly 20 years ago (1999). Some excerpts:

“I have never seen an alias in a Court record that was assigned by the individual and I can’t think of any reason for it. I have seen records that say ‘William Garthright, known as Whisperer’ and ‘John Jones, called Frognose,’ but the only times I’ve seen ‘alias,” and I have seen a number of them, it has been in the case of an illegitimate birth. I have also heard that [so] stated in a talk by one of the experts on VA genealogy at a statewide conference.”

Ann Avery Hunter goes on to give some specific examples from her research. It’s a different county (Chesterfield), but the Virginia law/court system is the same, of course. “I spent a year reading the Chesterfield Co., VA Court Order books page by page and saw any number of ‘alias’ deeds and will beneficiaries. They were all illegitimate offspring who had to use their mother’s maiden name in legal documents. In many cases, the father was brought to court by the mother and ordered to pay support, so there was no question about why the ‘alias’ was used on later documents. Sometimes when these people left wills themselves, they had been using their father’s surname for so long that the will was recorded in that name. I guess by that time no one remembered or cared that this was not a legal name.” [Note: The Spotsylvania County, VA, court records referring to William Logan “alias Clench or Clinch” do not pertain to deeds and wills, so these specific examples don’t pertain except to bolster the case about aliases used in the colony of Virginia’s courts.]

Researcher Hunter goes on to offer this advice: “… look at the Spotsylvania Court Order books from the time your Logan ancestor was born until he was 14 or so and see if there is anything on a Clinch/Clench paying for his support. For the most part this happened just before the father was being legally married, probably because the mother was worried about not getting any help from him after his marriage.” [Note: The Spotsylvania Co. and Orange Co. records all appear to be after William Logan was older than 14; however, it’s still a good tip in terms of researching other counties where he may have been raised before coming to Spotsylvania.]

Ann Avery Hunter adds this: “Sometimes you need to read through ‘all’ of the Court documents in the time period in which your ancestor lived. About 1/3 of relevant information is found in documents not indexed under the surname you are searching for [!, exclamation mine].” She gives an example of three generations of one of her family lines that was indexed in the name of an unknown sister’s husband. None of her family left wills and had no other deeds, “so it was a dream come true.”

Most of us genies don’t get exercised about illegitimacy; nonetheless, since not everyone in one’s family is a genealogist (I repeat: alas), it’s always good to add some context:

  • In colonial Virginia, for the most part, the “crime” of bearing an illegitimate child fell on the mother. [Aside: Women couldn’t vote or serve in the House of Burgesses. All laws were written by men and adjudicated by men.]
  • For colonial Virginia, there are three major factors to keep in mind regarding extramarital activity: gender (see first bullet point), class, and race. [Aside: Come to think of it, we’re not that far removed from colonial times after all.]
  • In terms of social class, many colonists were indentured servants, that is, people who got their ocean passage paid and were then “bound” in service for several years’ work. (Far more people came over by indenture than paid their own passage.) By definition and circumstance, these people were not the wealthy upper class, of course.
  • Indentured servants weren’t allowed to marry. A term of indenture could be seven years. This presented some challenges when a young couple fell in love, but had to wait several years to marry.
  • At the same time, women who were indentured as servants often worked in their master’s home, isolated. Sexual predation by men to whom they were indentured was common. Those men held most of the power in the equation. In addition, masters sometimes deliberately tried to impregnate indentured females to extend their time of indenture.
  • Several writers point to both the gender imbalance in colonial Virginia and the comparative “weakness of community institutions and standards,” especially in the frontier communities, which is what Spotsylvania County was at the time, to explain why the illegitimacy rate in the colony was 2-3 times higher than in England.
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William Logan and “Clench/Clinch” confusion

When it comes to William Logan of Spotsylvania County, Virginia, I’m reminded of the famous Mark Twain line: “The researches of many commentators have thrown much darkness upon this subject, and it is probable that if they continue we shall soon know nothing at all about it.” Certainly a broad overstatement in this case, and besides, I’ve been one of those well-meaning “commentators.” That said, however….

Here’s my concern. Many Logan researchers, in their attempt to IDENTIFY William Logan, sometimes “alias Clench / Clinch” in Virginia court records, from among all the other potential William Logans “out there,” refer to him as William “Clench” Logan. This is very helpful as an identifier for us genie researchers and also as a clue to possible ancestry (more on that in a subsequent post); however, it neither accurately reflects how William Logan referred to himself nor how other people referred to him and knew him.

This is an important distinction. Think about yourself. Take off your “genie” hat for a moment. What if, years from now, people referred to you in a way you never were referred to in life? Family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, yourself: Nobody used your name this way or called you by this court alias when you were alive. It would be exceedingly odd for people to “begin” to use a name never used in your lifetime (except in court). Alas, not everybody is, or will be, a genie. Unintentionally, we may have confused the issue for future readers of our research and for those new to researching William Logan of Spotsylvania County.

This rendering of his name has led some people to think William Logan had an alias in the popular, not legal, sense; that is, that “Clench” or “Clinch” was an alias like Billy “The Kid”, Alan “The Horse” Ameche, Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, or Vito “Babe” Parilli. That is most certainly not the case with William Logan at that time and place (1720s, 30s, and 40s in colonial Virginia). Nobody called him “Clench” or “Clinch” on the street.

Then there’s the fact that William Logan, “alias Clinch or Clench” (certainly the two spellings are simply a matter of interpreting the writing: Is it an “i” or an “e”), has somehow become only “Clench.” Why not “Clinch”? Why is one picked over the other? I have never heard an explanation for that choice.

It’s also important to point out that, in all the Spotsylvania and Orange County, Virginia, court records that reference William Logan (once or twice, Login), there are approximately four times as many which refer to him as “William Logan” than as “alias Clench or Clinch.”

My view is that we should look at Clench or Clinch as valuable clues to possible ancestry (more in another post) and that among ourselves as genealogical researchers, it may be helpful to use “Clench or Clinch” as an identifier. But we may want to do a bit of explaining, too; provide some context; and not merely call him William “Clench” Logan. With the best of intentions, in the process of identifying this William Logan, we are simultaneously misleading people about his name. We are unintentionally “throwing darkness on this subject.”

The next post will look at the possibilities that “alias Clench or Clinch” give us for furthering our knowledge of his ancestry — and ours.

 

 

 

 

William Logan, 1st North Carolina Battalion, Revolutionary War, 1777-1778

William Logan, one of the four Logan brothers at the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780, served earlier as a private with the First North Carolina Battalion, commanded by Colonel Thomas Clark.

Source: “Roll of Lt. Colonel Mebane’s Company of the First North Carolina Battalion, commanded by Colonel Thomas Clark, September 8th, 1778,” Army Returns, Book 27, page 22, North Carolina State Archives

The Name’s the Thing

In Albion’s Seed — Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer, Fischer makes the point that the naming of backcountry children in America (which includes the areas where our Logans lived) was unlike anywhere else in the colonies at the time. “The onomastic customs of these people were unique.” He cites George R. Stewart’s work, American Given Names, to point out the ten most-popular names on backcountry militia lists around 1776. These will look familiar to those of us researching William Logan (1008) and affiliated family branches:

  • John
  • William
  • James
  • Patrick
  • Robert
  • Thomas
  • Charles
  • Samuel
  • Edward
  • Joseph

 

Death certificate, William J. “Bay” Logan, Washington County, Illinois, 1927

This is thought to be the death certificate of William John “Bay” Logan, son of William Logan and Matilda Thaxton or Thackston Logan.

There are some uncertainties. Although we know — from Naomi Logan Bass, daughter of William Logan’s brother, Enoch F. Logan — that “Uncle Bay” … came to our house before my dad died and stayed a while. He was almost blind. Since Enoch Logan died in March of 1924, it could help explain why Naomi lost track of “Uncle Bay” until his death in 1927. Another uncertainty is that we can’t seem to find William J. Logan in a couple of censuses. He had been living in Cherokee County, Kansas, but his mother died there in 1897 and his father in 1905 at the Cherokee County Farm. We lose him for a time afterward.

Since William Logan was “almost blind” and had “muscular heart disease” for a year-and-a-half, it makes sense that he would have lived at the County Farm, the only “safety net” other than family prior to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s.

William Logan died in 1927 and is buried at the Washington County Poor Farm Cemetery in Beaucoup Township, Washington County, Illinois. A large stone marker adjacent to a farmer’s field lists the occupants of the cemetery, including William; however, there are no individual markers and nothing to mark even the cemetery’s boundary.

(William J. Logan was called “Bay.” His brother, Drury Logan, was called “Boy.”)

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More Twins!

One of the remarkable features of our extended Logan families is the number of twins we find. An entire section in the addendum of Logan Connections details our known twins — and that list continues to grow. It appears we’ve found another set, assuming that the Ryal / Rial / Riley Logan family, descended from Esom Logan, is, in fact, “our” Esom Logan. That is assumed, but not yet proven, to the best of my knowledge.

The twins are William and Allein Logan, born 7 July 1882, children of Ryal Thomas Logan / Thomas Riley Logan and Jennie Cele Wood Logan. This research was done by Barbara W. Austin and found in her Family Group Sheet, detailed in the Logan Newsletter of January 2001, Vol. 5, No. 1.

If any of our readers have more information on twins we might have missed in Logan Connections, we’d love to have it. Thank you.

More information on Larkin Chew of Spotsylvania County, Virginia (part 2)

Two articles, “The Silver Mine in 1713,” in Beyond Germanna, Vol. 12, No. 5, September 2000 by Stephen Jacobsen and John Blankenbaker and “The Silver Mine Patent” by John Blankenbaker have additional information on Larkin Chew. Some excerpts:

“In 1713, Larkin Chew patented 4020 acres that lay on both sides of Mine Run in present day Orange County, Virginia.” Fractional interests were quickly sold and Chew himself was left with only a fractional interest. (One of those to whom an interest was sold was Alexander Spotswood.) The sales were in Essex County, Virginia, one of the parent counties of Spotsylvania County.

Apparently, this mine was not successful.

The above might lead us to see if early Essex County, Virginia, records have anything to offer us on William Logan. Might he have been associated with Larkin Chew at this early date either as an indentured servant or workman?

Also, it’s interesting to note that Essex County was created out of old Rappahannock County. Rappahannock County is where we find one of our earliest potential — unproven — Logan connections: Margaret Logan. This is pure speculation at this point, but is intriguing for further study.

More information on Larkin Chew of Spotsylvania County, Virginia (part 1)

William Logan is referenced several times in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, court documents in conjunction with Larkin Chew. We have assumed that either William Logan was an indentured servant of Larkin Chew, or a former indentured servant of Chew’s, or perhaps he simply worked for Chew. We know they lived in close proximity from the interactions cited in court documents.

The excerpts which follow concerning Larkin Chew give us a bit more to go on in terms of Chew’s possible relationship with William Logan. More pieces of the puzzle. The source is “Larkin Chew of Spotsylvania County and His Family” by Rudolf Loeser, The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 47, No. 1, January-March 2003 and Vol. 47, No. 2, April-June, 2003. The editor of The Virginia Genealogist is John Frederick Dorman.

“Larkin Chew deeply offended Alexander Spotswood [for whom Spotsylvania County is named], who damned Chew as that “base, drunken, infamous … vilest of fellows.” Chew had served me as a Common Carpenter for Wages….” [In other words, originally Chew was not a “gentleman” by birth or status in Virginia; that is, he “worked with his hands” for “wages.” Later, as we’ll see, Chew did achieve gentleman status.]

Larkin Chew’s age: “Spotswood was 48 years old in 1724 while Larkin Chew was about five years older.”

“Larkin Chew is thought to have come to Virginia from Maryland. His father is supposed to have been Joseph Chew of Virginia and Maryland, son of the immigrant John Chew of Jamestown.” [Unproven, as far as I know.]

Chew “married into the family of Roy.” [William Logan is referenced in Spotsylvania County documents in conjunction with John Roy as well.]

Larkin Chew was a carpenter and surveyor. Again, because he “worked with his hands,” he would not initially have been a member of the gentleman class in Virginia at that time. Class was highly important in the colony of Virginia at that time. Chew’s skills led to wealth which led to county offices which led, in turn, to gentleman status.

Chew was a member of the Essex County, Virginia, militia. Essex County was one of the counties from which Spotsylvania County was created. John Roy was an Essex County planter.

In 1722, “Larkin Chew and his son Thomas were sworn justices of the peace. Appointment to this office entitled Larkin Chew by common usage, to style himself ‘Gentleman.'”

In 1723 and 1726, Larkin Chew was a Burgess; in 1724, 1726, and 1727, one of the county coroners; and in 1728, he was appointed sheriff of Spotsylvania County. “… With his son Thomas he was vestryman of St. George’s parish….” [This is helpful because it gives us a location for Chew and, because he and William Logan lived in close proximity, it means Logan lived either in or near St. George’s Parish. (We have a reference from 1734 where William Logan is a witness to a document concerning land sold for a glebe for St. Mary’s Parish in Spotsylvania County, so the St. George’s Parish information gives us another clue for where to search.)]

“Larkin Chew died between 7 February 1728/9 and 11 March 1728/9.” [His will is quoted in the article.] Interestingly, in 1730 and 1731, after Larkin’s death, William Logan and John Chew, Gent.[leman] were in Spotsylvania County court because of assault and battery and trespass charges. John Chew was Larkin Chew’s son. (The other children were Thomas, Larkin, and Ann.)

 

“A Bill to Bring Traitors to Trial,” North Carolina, 1782

The Revolutionary War was a civil war, too, especially in the upcountry of North and South Carolina. In 1782, the North Carolina legislature prepared “A Bill to Bring Traitors to Trial.” Among the names of Loyalists branded as traitors is one with Logan ties, Moses Moore (“Moor” in the document), and his son, Benj. Moore (“Moor”).

Despite being one of the signers of the Tryon Resolves in Tryon County, North Carolina, in 1775, Moses Moore ultimately threw in his lot with King and country. In his mind, of course, he was a patriot.

His son, John Moore, was a Loyalist (Tory) leader at the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill.

A daughter, Sarah Moore, married Drury Logan. Another daughter, Hester, married Joshua Roberts. Both Drury Logan and Joshua Roberts chose the other side in the Revolution: the Patriot (Whig) side. Much of the Drury Logan profile in Logan Connections consists of his and Joshua Roberts’ efforts (as well as Joseph Lawrence who married Moses Moore’s other daughter, Ann) to work and litigate to protect their father-in-law’s land and other assets from confiscation. This was no doubt a sometimes unpopular path to tread, but Logan and Roberts’ bona fides as Patriots made their efforts acceptable to some at least, but most importantly, acceptable in the eyes of the law.

Benj. Moore, the other “Moor” named in the bill as a traitor, was Moses Moore’s son. We don’t know much about him, but he was said to be dead by 1785.

The Moores were two of the 36 men charged with Revolutionary War treason in Rutherford County, North Carolina, alone.

The Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War, also ended confiscation of Loyalist land and property. At that point, the North Carolina legislature passed “An Act of Pardon and Oblivion.”

Moses Moore ended up a refugee in Spanish West Florida, a haven for Loyalists originally engineered by the British King in what was then British West Florida.

Among the other “traitors” singled out from Rutherford County, North Carolina, who have a connection, although tangential, with some of our Logans are the Bickerstaff or Biggerstaff family. The Biggerstaffs, like the four Logan brothers, William, Joseph, John, and Thomas, were a family with split loyalties who fought at the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780. The “Bickerstaffs” named in “A Bill to Bring Traitors to Trial” in 1782 were Samuel, Aaron, and Benjamin. Aaron Biggerstaff, a Tory, fought at Kings Mountain. He was said to be mortally wounded, yet his name is on the list of “traitors.” Benjamin Biggerstaff was a Whig / Patriot, by many accounts, yet family tradition has him switching sides during the war as many did, depending on the fortunes of war and their and their families’ best interest. I believe Samuel Biggerstaff was the father — and a Tory.

In a further example of tangled loyalties, John Moore, Tory commander at Ramsour’s Mill and Moses Moore’s son, was a cousin of the Biggerstaffs.

When the Patriots left Kings Mountain after their stunning victory, Loyalist prisoners in tow, they stopped at the Biggerstaff plantation for a drumhead trial of alleged traitors captured at the battle. The selection of the Biggerstaff location was probably not coincidental. Several Loyalists were hanged there before the summary executions were stopped. It’s possible that some or all of the Logan brothers, except Thomas left wounded on the battlefield, witnessed these hangings.

Our thanks to Joe Logan and Dr. A.B. Pruitt for background sources and information.

Sources: Abstracts of Sales of Confiscated Loyalists Land and Property in North Carolina, Dr. A.B. Pruitt, 1989; “A Bill to Bring Traitors to Trial, 1782,” Grace W. Turner, The North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, Vol. XXVIII, No. 4, Nov. 2002, pages 420-426, researched by Joe Logan.

 

Some Logan and Kin Members of the Perry County, Illinois, Militia in 1862

The following men were members of the militia in Perry County, Illinois, in 1862, as the Civil War was ramping up. Most of these men went on to serve in the Civil War or were already serving, even though their names were on the militia list. Among the war’s survivors, several moved to Kansas after the war.

This list comes from Donna Timpner Vuichard’s transcription of the 1862 Perry County Militia Census, reprinted in the Saga of Southern Illinois, Vol. XXI, No. 3, Fall, 1994. The Saga is published by the Genealogical Society of Southern Illinois, Carterville, Illinois. Vuichard’s publication is also at the Pinckneyville Public Library in Pinckneyville, Illinois.

  • Richard Guy — Richard was the son of William and Louisa Guy. He was about 22 years old at the time of the militia census.
  • Benjamin B. Logan  — Benjamin B. Logan was the son of Euclid W. Logan and Queen Della or Queendella Benedict Logan. Benjamin B. Logan’s brothers, Robert J. Logan and William A. Logan, saw combat in the Civil War. One died of his wounds in 1865; the other died several years later of complications from his Civil War wounds. Another brother, D.B. Logan died in 1865 (see below).
  • Josiah Bigham — married Harriet N. Logan, daughter of Carroll Bias Logan and Lucinda “Lucy” Ann Venable Logan. Harriet was a twin; her brother was Andrew Jackson Logan.
  • Joseph Allen — married Margaret J. Logan, daughter of William Logan and Matilda Thaxton Logan. Joseph Allen served in the Civil War in Co. D, 48th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He was wounded in the assault on Fort McAllister in Savannah, Georgia, and his left arm was amputated.
  • Robert Beggs  — Robert Beggs married Frances Adeline Logan, daughter of William Logan and Matilda Thaxton Logan. Robert Beggs and his two brothers served in Illinois units during the Civil War. One, Absolom Beggs, Co. I, 80th Illinois, died of a gunshot wound while confined as a prisoner of war in Huntsville, Alabama. Robert Beggs served in Co. I, 49th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
  • Robert J. Logan — Robert J. Logan served in Co’s. D and H, 110th Illinois. He died of wounds in DeCamp Hospital, David’s Island, New York.
  • Wm. Logan — William A. Logan was Robert J. Logan’s older brother. Wm. Logan married Sarah Mahala Garrison, daughter of Luther Alexander (Stamps) Garrison and Mahala “Millie” or “Milly” Logan Garrison. William A. Logan served in Co’s. D and H, 110th Illinois. He was wounded above the knee during the Battle of Jonesboro. The wound was severe enough that his right leg had to be amputated mid-thigh. William A. Logan died in 1876 as a result of his war wound.
  • D.B. Logan (also known as John D.B. Logan) — John D.B. Logan died in 1865. He had been married only three months and died just a little over a week after his brother, Robert J. Logan, died. It’s possible John D.B. Logan died in the war, too. We’re still hoping to uncover further records.
  • W.T. Caton — married Amelia “Milly” or “Millie” Logan, daughter of William Logan and Matilda Thaxton Logan. Wilson T. Caton served in Co. D, 89th Illinois. His regiment saw extensive action in the Civil War. W.T. Caton mustered out of service in 1865.

The militia consisted of “all able bodied men … over 18 … and under 45….”