The Family of General James Winchester, Part One

The family of General James Winchester
beginning with the father William Winchester
(with additional notes on the Sumner County families of House and Belote)
Part One

Compiled by Karel L. (Kinney) Whyte
Copyright 1989, Revised 1997, Reprinted with permission

This is a portion of the expanded and corrected revision of the Winchester genealogy compiled in the 1930's by Col and Mrs Louis Farrell of Nashville, TN. This revision was accomplished with permission of Mr Louis Farrell and Col Norman Farrell, sons of Col and Mrs Louis Farrell.

William Winchester, father of GENERAL JAMES WINCHESTER of Sumner Co, TN, was a descendant of the Winchesters of London and Kent, England. Descendant and historian Emma Shelton has researched Williams early life and states that he was born in the part of London known as Westminster, 22 December 1711, contrary to the cemetery marker in Westminster, MD, which states he was born in 1710. Ms Shelton further states that William was the son of James Winchester and his wife Jane, and was baptised 1 January 1712 "in the parish church of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, London." (NOTE: Emma Shelton's book, William Winchester, 1711 - 1790, can be obtained from The Historical Society of Carroll County, 210 East Main St, Westiminster, MD 21157.)
Ms Shelton located the indenture form (Corp of London Records Office, Indentured Servants Memoranda of Agreements, Box 2 (1727-1733), 1731, No 25A) which states that on 16 Jan 1730:

"William Winchester of ye parish of St. Martins in ye Fields in Middlesex did by indenture bearing the Date herewith, agree to serve Peter Simpson of London Victualer or his Assigns Five Years in Maryland (his Majesties plantation in America) and did thereby declare himself to be then of the Age of Nineteen Years, a single person, and no Covenant, or Contracted Servant to any other Person, or Persons. And the said Master did thereby Covenant at his own Cost, to send his said Servant to the said Plantation; and at the like Costs to find him all necessary Cloathes, Meat, Drink, Washing and Lodging, as other Servants in such Cases are usually provided for, and allowed.

Memorandum this 16th day of
January 1730 and the said William
Winchester came before me &
acknowledged the above Indtre
in my presence & by my
William Winchester

Richd. Brocas (Mayor of London)"

William arrived at Annapolis, MD, 6 Mar 1731, on the ship Hume: Daniel Russell, master, William Black of London, owner. Within a few years of completion of his indenture, William had established himself as a farmer in Baltimore County. On 22 July 1747, he married LYDIA RICHARDS, born in Baltimore Co on the eastern shore of the Choptank River on 4 August 1727, daughter of EDWARD and MARY RICHARDS of Baltimore Co, MD.
Mary Richards was born Feb 1690 and died 20 Jan 1785. Edward Richards was born 10 Apr 1678, Manchester, England and died in 1755. He came to Baltimore Co, near Butler, and is said to be one of the Quaker founders of a community along the Patapsco-Conewago Road in Carroll County, later to be known as Hampstead, along with his son Benjamin Richards and Isaac Wright. Mary and Edwards children were Benjamin (m Ann Merryman, 50 acres laid out 5 Jan 1738 near Conewago Rd called "Spring Garden", in Mar 1750 moved his wife, 2 sons & 3 dau to Stanton River in VA), Richard (laid out Manchester, MD in 1790), Stephen, Daniel, Matthew, Anne (m a Morgan), Sarah (m a Phippin), Elizabeth (m a Semons), Rachael (m a Sice), Patience (m a Story), Lydia (m Wm Winchester), and Mary (m Christopher Vaughn who laid out Hampstead MD in 1786). Edward Richards died 22 Sep 1755, Baltimore Co, MD (will in Md Hall of Records, Annapolis). (NOTE: Carroll Co was formed from parts of Baltimore and Frederick Co's in 1837.)
On 19 Jul 1754, William purchased "White's Level", 167 acres located at the headwaters of Patapsco Falls and Little Pipe Creek in Frederick County, first granted to John White in 1733. It included the site of the present city of Westminster, MD. Although there is documentation of a dwelling at "White's Level" as early as 1741, it is believed the home as it is today was built about 1760, with a wing having been added about 1860. The house has been restored by TARGET, Inc, with assistance from the Marriot Corp and is operated today as the "Winchester Country Inn", a bed and breakfast. Another Winchester home, built ca 1806, located in Westminster and known as Winchester Place, was inherited by William's son David, who resided there with his sisters Lydia and Betsy. William Winchester had founded the town of Westminster in an area which now lies in Carroll County in 1764, calling its one street King Street and later renaming it Main Street. He was regarded as a man of wealth, greatly respected for his good sense and progressive spirit--of high intelligence and fine education. He helped build the town's first Church, a log building, open to all denominations, which stood near the old cemetery located at the end of Church Street.
William Winchester served as a member of Captain Norris' Company in the French and Indian War in 1757. He took an active part in the movements which led up to the Revolution. At a meeting of the inhabitants of Frederick Co, held at the courthouse on 13 Nov 1774, William was a member of a committee appointed to represent the county in carrying into execution the "Association" agreed upon by the Continental Congress. At a meeting of the people of Frederick Co, held on 24 January 1775, William was named on the "Committee of Observation" which was appointed from among the citizenry with power to carry into effect the "Resolves of the American Congress and the Provisional Convention", to raise the county's proportion of the amount ($10,000) appointed by the Provisional Government to be raised for the purchase of arms and ammunition. (For anyone interested in DAR membership, William Winchester is listed in the DAR Patriot Index, Centennial Edition, 1990, p3255, with "Patriotic Service, MD".)
William Winchester died 2 Sep 1790, at "White's Level", Carroll Co, MD (then Frederick Co); Lydia, his wife, died 19 Feb 1809. Both are buried alongside some of their children in the old cemetery at the end of Church Street near the site of the church which William had helped build.

JAMES WINCHESTER was the third child of William Winchester and Lydia Richards. He was b 5 Feb 1752 in Frederick Co (now Carroll Co), MD, and died on 27 Jul 1826 in Sumner Co, TN. He is buried at the family home, Cragfont, near Gallatin, TN. He married Susan Black.


For several years I have tried to find out more about Susan and her mother who was previously known only as "widow Black". While browsing a stack of lawsuits pertaining to the Winchester, Black and Gibson families of Sumner Co, I found a document which shows that Susan Black's given name was SUSANNAH BLACK. After her marriage to General James Winchester, she apparently shortened her name to Susan.

Prior histories stated that Susan had come to Sumner Co with her mother and brothers, George G. Black and John Black. It was believed that her mother had been married first to a Mr Gibson, and second to a Mr Black, and that by her first marriage she had three children - Roger, Rhoda, and Cynthia Gibson. However, I found a document in Sumner Co lawsuit #591, May 1854, which states that Roger Gibson was the "only son and heir of Jordan Gibson".

Jordan Gibson had come to Sumner Co in 1783 or 85. He was granted 640 acres by the state of NC on 17 Apr 1786, on the north side of Bledsoes Lick Creek. He was scalped by Indians and consequently died in 1787. Jordan left no will, but Roger Gibson, James Odom, and James Harrison requested the court divide Jordan's estate four ways. George Winchester was appointed one of the commissioners to divide the estate. Three of those four parts went to Roger Gibson, James Odom who had married Rhoda Gibson, and James Harrison who had married Cynthia Gibson. It is unknown who the fourth part was intended for, but it is now believed that part probably was for Susan Black's mother. This means the Gibsons were not half-sisters and brother to Susan Black. I had thought that perhaps Susan's mother was a sister to Jordan Gibson, which would explain the close association of the two families. However, a Black family researcher and I analyzed the families and have come to the conclusion that Susan's mother was a daughter of Jordan Gibson, probably by an earlier marriage. This means that Susan's mother, rather than Susan, was the half-sister of the three Gibsons - Roger, Rhoda, and Cynthia.

Furthermore, Lona Koltick, the Black family researcher, has corresponded with another Black family descendant who was able to prove through Bible records that Susan's brother George Gabriel Black had a daughter named Moriah Susan Winchester Black. This is fair reason to believe that Susan's mother's name was Mariah or Moriah Black and that Susan's brother George Gabriel Black had named his daughter for his mother and his only sister Susan who had married General Winchester.

Susan had come to Bledsoe's Lick, TN, in the late 1780's with her *mother and her two brothers, George Gabriel Black (m Jenny McKain in Sumner Co, dau of James McKain, b ca 1766, NC) and John Black. She stated in her widow's pension application on 3 Nov 1851 that she was then age 75. She was born sometime before Nov in the year 1776 in SC (1850 census). Susan also states in her pension application that she "was married to the said James Winchester sometime in the winter or early spring of 1792". This was probably a common-law marriage. An act of the Tennessee State Legislature in 1803 (Act XXXVI, pp 82-83) changed the names of James and Susan's first five children from Black to Winchester. Lucilius, Almira, and Napoleon's last names were changed to Winchester by another act in 1807 (Acts of Tennessee 1796-1830: W [Part 4]: Wilson - Wyrick, Tennessee State Library & Archives).

James Winchester entered the Continental Army at the beginning of the war. His military record as shown in the government Record of Officers Who Have Served in the United States Army is as follows:

Sergeant Maryland Battalion of the Flying Camp, Jul-Dec 1776
Second Lieutenant, 2nd Maryland, 20 Feb 1777
Taken prisoner at Staten Island, 22 Aug 1777
First Lieutenant, 2nd Maryland, 27 May 1778
Taken prisoner at Charleston, 12 May 1780
Released 22 Dec 1780
Transferred to 3rd Maryland, 1 Jun 1781
Promoted to Captain, 9 Feb 1782
Retained in Maryland Battalion, Apr 1783
Served to 15 Nov 1785
Service during War of 1812

Family records state that he was present at the siege of Yorktown and the surrender of Cornwallis. He was an original member of the Society of Cincinnati, an organization of Continental and French officers who had served in the American Revolution. After he moved to TN he served in the Indian Wars against the Cherokees.
In 1784 James and his brother George Winchester migrated to Tennessee. The Revolutonary Pension Application filed by James' widow Susan states, " Land Warrant #2407 for 300 acres, was issued Dec 22 1796 to James Winchester, who was a Capt in the Maryland Continental line. Certificates for the commutation pay [one form of pay substituted for another] due to Capt James Winchester amounting to 2360 dollars were issued to him under date of Augst 31st 1784." James and George Winchester's names appear on the Sumner Co, TN tax list of 1787, with 668 acres. James Winchester's name appears on subsequent tax lists and by 1820 he was listed with 2,657 acres on Bledsoe Creek.
In April 1787, James sat as a member of the first County Court of Sumner Co, TN, and was appointed County Trustee in Apr 1789 (1770-1790 Census of the Cumberland Settlements, Richard C. Fulcher). He was associated with John Overton, Andrew Jackson, and others in the purchase of land where the city of Memphis now stands. In 1809 he was appointed Western Tennessee commissioner, but he refused to serve. He was in charge of the survey in 1819 which fixed the southern boundary of the state of Tennessee and was Speaker of the first Senate of the state. About 1800, James Winchester built his mansion, Cragfont, near Gallatin, TN. This home was undoubtedly one of the earliest stone houses in Tennessee. Cragfont passed from family ownership after the death of Mrs Winchester and subsequently passed through several ownerships. In 1956 it was acquired by the State of Tennessee. The house and gardens have been painstakingly restored.
On 27 March 1812, James Winchester was appointed Brigadier General in the United States Army. Charles J. Peterson, in his book Military Heroes of the War of 1812, published in 1849, states that members of Congress from his district gave him the appointment because they feared "he might be a formidable opponent in the ensuing election", against Andrew Jackson. He further states that, "Winchester, after relieving Fort Wayne, in September, moved down to the site of old Fort Defiance, where a new post was established, called Fort Winchester." Winchester and his troops left the camp in Nov and "advanced in the direction of the enemy." On 22 January 1813, Gen Winchester and his son Marcus were captured by the British army at the Battle of the River Raisin near French Town. The two were released after six weeks captivity in Quebec, Canada. On 31 March 1815, General Winchester resigned and returned to his home where he died several years later on 27 July 1826. Susan Black Winchester continued to raise her children and run the family farm. She endured the hardships of the Civil War in which her young son George served. Susan died on 7 Dec 1864 and she was buried next to her husband in the family cemetery behind Cragfont.

James and Susan Winchester's children were:

  1. *MARIA ELIZA WINCHESTER, b 14 May 1793, Sumner Co, TN.
  2. *MARCUS BRUTUS WINCHESTER, b 28 May 1796, Sumner Co, TN.
  3. CYNTHIA WINCHESTER, b 1 May 1799, Sumner Co, TN, d an infant.
  4. *SELIMA WINCHESTER, b 14 Aug 1800, Sumner Co, TN.
  5. BETSEY CAROLINE WINCHESTER, b 1 Jan 1802, Sumner Co, TN (in the 1803 act of the TN legislature, she was called this but in the Bible record she was called Betsey Ann, and was also known as Caroline A.).
  6. LUCILIUS WINCHESTER, b 23 Oct 1803, Sumner Co, TN.
  7. ALMIRA WINCHESTER, b 30 Mar 1805. Sumner Co, TN.
  8. NAPOLEON WINCHESTER, b 30 Nov 1806, Sumner Co, TN, d 18 Sep 1824.
  9. MALVINA WINCHESTER, b 16 Mar 1809, Sumner Co, TN, twin of #33, d in infancy. The daughter of George, #14, Susan Black Winchester Scales drew a diagram of the Cragfont property in her later years. On it is a note which reads "2 graves in the garden" followed by "Gr Gr Grandmother Black" and "baby Louisa's twin under a willow tree headstone to GGG Black foot high granite".
  10. LOUISA ORVILLE WINCHESTER, b 16 Mar 1809, Sumner Co, TN.
  11. VALERIUS PUBLICOLA WINCHESTER, b 24 Nov 1810, Sumner Co, TN.
  12. HELEN MARR WINCHESTER, b 1 Oct 1812, Sumner Co, TN, d 1870 at Wynnewood where she had gone to live with her sister Almira after the death of her mother and the sale of Cragfont. She never married and is said to be buried at Cragfont in the same grave as her mother.
  13. JAMES MARTIN WINCHESTER, b 5 Feb 1816, Sumner Co, TN.
  14. GEORGE WASHINGTON WINCHESTER, b 14 May 1822, Sumner Co, TN.

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