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William Combs, Sr., probably born in Overwharton Parish, Stafford Co, VA ca 1755, married 4 Dec 1775 in Prince William Co, VA, by Parson SCOTT, Sarah Ann MILLION, daughter of Robert and Keziah HOLLIDAY Million, born 13 Feb 1756, Overwharton Parish, Stafford Co, VA, died aft 1843, Paris, Edgar Co, IL. William Combs, Sr. died in 1780 from wounds suffered while serving in the Continental Line of the Revolutionary Army.

The story of William and Sarah Ann MILLION Combs was not a unique one in its time, but not one heard often today:

In a letter dated 8 Aug 1776 from John Parke CUSTIS to his step-father, George WASHINGTON, he wrote of the British burning of Richland, the Brent Estate at Aquia Creek, Overwharton Parish, Stafford County, Virginia: "You have no doubt heard of the Men of War coming up Potowmack as far as Mr. BRENT'S whose House they burnt with several outhouses and some Stacks of Wheat… HAMMOND sent 150 Men who landed about 10 oclock under cover of a Gondola Tender, the Militia were asleep after their drinking Frolick and did not discover the Enemy untill they landed and their vessels began to Fire… A Young Man by Name Combs stayd untill he kild three of the Enemy…" (They Called Stafford Home: The Development of Stafford County, Virginia, from 1600 until 1865, Jerrilynn Eby, Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, Maryland, 1997)

While we cannot know for certain that the "Young Man by Name Combs" was William Combs, Sr., he is the most likely candidate given his military record as stated by his widow, Sarah Ann MILLION Combs and those making declarations in her behalf when she applied for a pension as his widow in Jan 1843 in Edgar County, Illinois:

State of Illinois
}
Edgar County
Be it remembered that this 20th day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty three personally appeared before me GEORGE REDMON, a judge or justice and one of the judges of the County Commissioner's Court in and for the said County of Edgar and State of Illinois (said court being a Court of Record having a clerk and official seal and declared a court of Record by the law creating said Court) SARAH Ann Combs a resident of said County of Edgar aged ninety years in March last, is who being by me first duly sworn upon her oath says and makes the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provisions made by the act of Congress passed July 4, 1836. That she is the widow of WILLIAM Combs who was a private in the company (according to her present recollection) by Captain WILLIAM WASHINGTON of the Virginia Militia or continental army in the Revolutionary War. She can not state with certainty the name or number of the Regiment to which he belonged. Nor will she state certainly that WILLIAM WASHINGTON was his Captain, but she is positive in her recollections that his service was the greater part of the time, or all of the time under Capt. WILLIAM WASHINGTON or Col. WILLIAM WASHINGTON and under General GEORGE WASHINGTON. That the said WILLIAM Combs resided in the State of Virginia at the time of enlisting and that said WILLIAM Combs as well as she now recollects, enlisted for the term of five years, at least, or for during the war, she thinks the latter. And that he entered the service she things under his said enlistment in the said County of Stafford in the early part of the year 1776, she thinks in the month of May, and that his service was in the Troop called the Infantry as she then understood. That the said WILLIAM Combs was in the Service in the Revolutionary War under his said enlistment from the time above stated continually until the time of his death. She cannot state the battles or engagements he was in or the country through which he marched in detail but she recollects that he was in the battle at, and burning of, [BRANT'S, BRUNT'S, BRINT'S] House in the early part of the war in Stafford County in Virginia and was in a number of other battles and engagements which she cannot now name and that he was wounded or some way greatly injured while he was engaged with the troop in erecting or repairing some fort or breastwork, she is not positive which on the Potomac River in the year 1780 from which injury he never recovered. He was taken to a hospital from when he was injured where he remained until he died some time in the fall of 1780 as she was informed and believes. He never afterward returned home. He was at home on furlough once or twice in the summer of 1777 a few days each time and when at home she recollects to have heard him say his [mess mates] at that time were JOHN KING, RICHARD SIMMS and WILLIAM DAVIS (whom she knew) and others but whom she does not recollect. She does not now know of any person living who served with her said husband, by whom she could know his service from personal knowledge. She is informed and believes that all the person are dead whom she knew to have had a personal knowledge of his service. If there are any who are living who knew of the service they are entirely unknown to this declarant.

She further declares that she was married to said WILLIAM Combs on the fourth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy five before the commencement of the Revolutionary War in the County of Prince William in the State of Virginia by publication in the church by one Parson SCOTT. That her maiden name was SARAH ANN MILLION and that she never had but one child by her said husband who was called WILLIAM Combs JR. Who was born on the 11th day of January in the year of our Lord 1777 whose birth was seven or eight months as well as she now recollects after her said husband entered the service. The said WILLIAM Combs, JR. is now living in Russell County in the State of Virginia. That the said husband the said WILLIAM Combs as she was informed and believes died in the fall of the year 1780 as above stated but on what day or in what month she cannot state never to her recollection having known. That she had remained a widow since the death of the said WILLIAM Combs. She further declares that she has not any family record of his age or marriage or of the birth of her said son nor does she know or believe that any record of her marriage exists and that if any such record was made in the church when she was married or by the said Parson SCOTT she is now ignorant of it and supposes it is not now in existence.

She further declares she is not in possession of any documentary evidence of the said service of the said husband. That one WILLIAM WILSON of Stafford County, Virginia attended to her [missing]
[missing] and drew some [missing] of pay due her said husband for his said service from the authorities of Virginia in the fall or winter of the year 1783. She believes the said William Wilson died many years ago in the State of Virginia. That since the death of her husband she has resided in Stafford County, Virginia, next in South Carolina, next in Russell County, Virginia next in Montgomery County, Kentucky and last in Edgar County, Illinois where she now resides and has resided for the last six years, and yet remains the widow of the said WILLIAM Combs and has never since the death of said WILLIAM Combs [married] with any other person all which will more fully appear by references to the proof hereto annexed sworn to and subscribed before me this 10th day of January A.D. 1843

her
SARAH ANN [X] Combs
mark

Sworn to and subscribed before me this [ ] day of January AD 1843
GEORGE REDMON
County Commissioner
Edgar County, Illinois
I, GEORGE REDMON, County Commissioner of Edgar County, Illinois before whom the above declaration of SARAH ANN Combs was on the date of this date thereof subscribed and sworn to so certify that I did on said day attend at the residence of the said SARAH ANN Combs in the said County of Edgar in the State of Illinois for the purpose of making the said declaration and I do further certify that the said SARAH ANN Combs is and was on said day unable to attend at and before a Court of Record in and (no further pages) (Revolutionary War Pension File R2187, transcribed by Researchers Sharon Combs Mize & Wesley Combs)

Sarah Ann MILLION Combs' brother, John MILLION of Madison Co KY, also gave a deposition in her behalf:

State of Kentucky
}
Madison County March 29, 1843
This day personally appeared before me H. GODDIN one of the Justices of the County Court of Madison Co., Ky - John MILLION a resident of said county who being first worn states that he is a brother of the petitioner SARAH ANN Combs and he will be eighty years old on the 10th of May next. That his sister the said SARAH is more than ten years older than he is. He thinks that she is ninety-one. That she was born in Stafford County Virginia and lived there until she was married. That he thinks that she was married just about the time the war began he thinks about the year 1775 or 1776. That she was married to WILLIAM Combs a blacksmith and lived in the County of Stafford Va. That she was married by a PARSON SCOTT. That deponent heard the publication of the banns and that the parties were too poor to purchase a license. That he was present and witnessed the marriage between the said Combs and his sister SARAH ANN the petitioner. That he recollects that the said Combs took the bounty and enlisted for the whole of the Revolutionary War. That this was soon after the war commenced and that the said Combs served he thinks about three years and it was generally understood that he was killed or wounded at the battle of Brandywine - in some way - he does not recollect how. That he enlisted he thinks in Capt. BILLY WASHINGTON'S Company in the regular army.

JOHN MILLION (his signature)

The above was on this 29th day of March 1843 submitted & sworn to before me one of the Justices as aforesaid and I further certify that the subscribed JOHN MILLION is a person of the highest integrity & good standing in society and credible upon oath.
H. GODDIN
One of the Justices of this County
Court of Madison KY
State of Kentucky
}
Madison County
I DAVID IRVINE Clerk of the County Court of Madison County Ky certify that H. GODDIN whose signature is foregoing is and was at the date thereof one of the Justices of the County Court of Madison Count Ky the same being a Court of Record and that the signature is genuine. In testimony whereof I have subscribed My name & affixed true seal of my office this 30th day of March 1843
DAVID IRVINE
Clerk of the County Court
of Madison County (ibid.)

Also filing a declaration on behalf of Sarah Ann MILLION Combs was one Sarah Ann VARVELL whose declaration included the following statement:

State of Illinois)

Edgar County ) on the 12th of April A.D. 1843 personally appeared before me James M. Miller of of the Justices of the peace for & in the said County of Edgar.

Sarah Varvell a resident of said County aged fifty years past who being by me first duly sworn, upon her oath says that she is personally & well acquainted with Sarah Ann Combs who now resides in the County of Edgar & State of Illinois & has resided there for the last seven years past, that she has known the said Sarah Ann Combs ever since the earliest recollection of her childhood, that she first became acquainted the said Sarah Ann Combs in Russell County Virginia, where her only child William Combs there resides & still continues his residence as well as she is informed & believes. That the said Sarah Ann Combs has always been known and reputed by me and her neighbors in Virginia & elsewhere to be the widow and relict of one William Combs of Stafford County Va. who was a revolutionary soldier from the said County of Stafford. That she has often heard the said Sarah Ann Combs tell over her troubles & hardships of the revolutionary war. That her Husband William Combs enlisted in the revolutionary war in Stafford County Virginia where they then resided, in the Infantry under Capt. William Washington of Virginia Continental army in the early part of the revolutionary war. Soon after they were married & before She had borne her said child William Combs. That she has often seen the said Sarah Ann Combs & her said son William Combs while they lived together in Russell County Virginia. That the said Sarah Ann Combs is now a widow & has been a widow ever since the deponent first knew her & has never been intermarried with any person. That the said Sarah Ann Combs when speaking of her said husband services in the revolutionary war always said that her said husband was wounded in the service some two or three years after he entered the service, & died in the service & never returned home after he was wounded. That she was personally aquainted with the said Sarah Ann Combs while she resided in Russell County Virginia, next in Montgomery County Kentucky & next in Edgar County Illinois, where she now resides & that she has resided in these three Counties & States & these three only, since she first knew the said Sarah Ann Combs. That John MILLION who now resides in Madison County Kentucky is the oldest brother of the said Sarah Ann Combs & that she has been personally aquainted with the said John MILLION for about twenty five years past & has often heard the said John MILLION say that the said William Combs & his sister the said Sarah Ann Combs were married in Prince William County Virginia that their residence was in Stafford County Virginia at the time their marriage & from what this deponent has always heard the same. Sarah Ann Combs say she knew & believes her to be now ninety one years of age. And that the said, Sarah Ann Combs is the said person who made her declaration before George REDMAN one of the County Commissioners of the County Commissioners Court of Edgar County Illinois on the 20th of January last for a pension as the widow of the said William Combs Dc.d.

her
Sarah [X] Varvell
mark

Sworn to & subcribed before me
on this 12th day of April
A D 1843 Signed James M. Miller J.P.
I James M. MILLER the Justice of the peace before whom the foregoing affidavit of Sarah Ann VARVELL was made on this day. do certify that the said Sarah Ann VARVELL is personally known to me & that she is a person of good standing in society & her statements are entitled to credit.

Given under my hand this 12th day of April A D 1843
Signed James M. MILLER
(Transcribed and Provided by Researchers John & Doris Hamilton)

John MILLION also filed a Revolutionary War Pension Application, and his sister, Sarah Ann MILLION Combs, made a declaration in his behalf only a short time after her own:

State of Illinois
}
Edgar County
On this 12th day of April AD 1843 personally appeared before me JAMES M. MILLER one of the justices of the peace in and for the County of Edgar aforesaid SARAH ANN Combs a resident of said county aged ninety one years who being by me first duly sworn upon her oath says that she is the sister of JOHN MILLION who now resides in Madison County Kentucky. That the said JOHN MILLION is her oldest brother and was born in Stafford County Virginia she thinks in the month of May 1763 that he is about ten years or a little more younger than she is. That her said brother JOHN MILLION resided in Stafford County Virginia and about the spring of the year & as well as she now can recollect in the year 1781 he was drafted she thinks to serve in the state troop or militia of Virginia in the Revolutionary War from Stafford County for the term of eighteen months as well as her memory serves her. That they lived in Stafford County Virginia at that time & recollects he went out with the troop about the time her child WILLIAM Combs JUNIOR was about five year old. That she recollects he served with the troop until it was reported the British had surrendered and she thinks they called it the Surrender of Cornwallis. She recollects he returned home to her father's after the report of the surrender of the British. She does not recollect the names of his officers now with certainty but from her best impressions from what she heard him and the family say at the time his captains name was TIPLET or TRIPPLE or TRIPLET or some such name and that the Colonels name was either GARRISON or HARRISON. She recollects he said on his return he had been guarding the military stores at or near the seashore and she thinks at Alexandria.

her
SARAH ANN (X) Combs
mark

Sworn to and subscribed before me on this 12th day of April AD 1843
JAMES M. MILLER, J.P.

Unfortunately, a conflict of fact exists which cannot be reconciled, except to claim - undoubtedly accurately - that it was most likely the result of SARAH'S advanced age. The conflict has to do with SARAH ANN'S statement in 1843 that her son, WILLIAM Combs, JR., was living at the time in Russell Co, VA when in fact, the only WILLIAM Combs in Russell Co, VA during the period 1820 to 1843, who was of an age to be Sarah's son, had died two years earlier. (See William & Anna THOMPSON Combs, Jr.)

Researchers Sharon Combs Mize and Wesley Combs have studied and analyzed numerous documents in reference to both William and Sarah Ann MILLION Combs, Sr. and their son, William Combs, Jr., as follows:

The credibility of the petition of Sarah Ann MILLION Combs and accompanying affidavits can be tested by finding corroborating evidence especially on names and dates. She names several people each of whom can be identified from independent sources.

The birth of William WASHINGTON, 28 Feb 1752, to Bailey WASHINGTON and his wife Catherine is recorded in the Overwharton Parish Register, Stafford Co., VA. When William WASHINGTON recruited his troop he served as Captain and later as Colonel William "Billy" WASHINGTON under Gen. George WASHINGTON. Capt. William WASHINGTON was chosen by Gen. WASHINGTON to lead an advance party of 40 Virginians over the Delaware River in the attack on the Hessian stronghold at Trenton in the pre-dawn Boxing Day, 26 Dec 1776 (Miller, 1995). His second in command was 18 year old Lt. James MONROE a future president of the United States. Both were wounded. No mention is made by the author of others of the Virginia troop.

"Parson Scott" is without doubt, the one said to have performed William and Sarah Ann's marriage and who has the following entry in Whyte (1972):

"SCOTT, James (Rev) ca 1699-1782. From Dippe, Elgin, Morayshire. Son of Rev. John S. and Helen GRANT. Settled Prince William County, Virginia before 1744. Educated Aberdeen and ordained by Bishop of London, Rector of Dettingen parish, Prince William County. M. (I) ca. 1736 Sarah 1715-1784, daughter of Dr. Gustavus Brown and Frances Fowke. Son Gustavus 1750-1801, lawyer." (A.A., ix, 163) (Whyte, Donald (ed.). 1972. A Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants to the U.S.A. Magna Carta Book Company, Baltimore, MD. 504 pp.)

The SCOTTS had several children born in Stafford Co. in the 1740s (I.G.I.: International Genealogy Index). The James SCOTT family would likely have been known to both the Combs and MILLION families. William Combs may have been an Anglican at the time of their marriage, but the MILLIONS had left Overwharton Parish with a group of dissenters who on 22 Nov 1766 signed a covenant establishing the Chopawamsic Baptist Church (Overwharton Parish Register) and probably became personae non grata in Overwharton Parish. This could explain why William Combs and Sarah Ann MILLION went over to Dettingen Parish, Prince William Co., to be married in the Church of England by Parson SCOTT, 04 Dec 1775.

The "mess mates", John KING, Richard SIMMS, and William DAVIS, or persons of the same name, are all recorded as having been born in Stafford Co., VA. Also, William WILSON who had collected arrearage owed William Combs is recorded in I.G.I.

It appears that the memory of Sarah Ann MILLION Combs was quite accurate in recalling names of persons with whom she or her husband, William Combs, had been associated. Her recollection of dates may require some tolerance. She was nearly 87 years old and recalling events occurring more than 60 years before. She is in error about her own age and birth date and we are required to accept the dates of her marriage, William's enlistment and death, and the birth date of their son, William, 11 Jan 1777, without corroboration.

Sarah Ann MILLION Combs was born 13 Feb 1756 to Robert and Keziah HOLLIDAY Million (Overwharton Parish Register, Stafford County, Virginia) and would have been less than a month from being 87 years old when she made her petition, 20 Jan 1843. She states her age as 90 years, nearly 91. Her brother, John MILLION, states that he is 80 and that Sarah Ann is more than 10 years older than he. Sarah Ann appears to be illiterate, she signed her petition with an X and thus could not have recorded the events of her life in written record. If Sarah Ann, at some point, became convinced she was older than she actually was, her younger brother would have accepted that. John MILLION's declaration from Madison County, Kentucky on Sarah Ann's behalf and Sarah Ann's declaration on his behalf indicate that they had maintained contact over the years.

After William's enlistment in the Virginia Militia, possibly May of 1776, Sarah recalls he was in "the battle at, and the burning of the 'Brunt's or Brint's' House." An account of the battle at BRENT'S House mentions the actions of a young man named Combs. As yet, no documentation has identified him as William Combs, but it does coincide with Sarah Ann's memories.

Sarah Ann recollects that William served under General George WASHINGTON. John MILLION'S statement places William Combs at the Battle of Brandywine, either as killed or wounded, which took place on 04 to 11 Sep 1777. American troops were led by General George WASHINGTON at Brandywine Creek in an unsuccessful attempt to protect Philadelphia from the British. A thousand American troops were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. (Encyclopedia Britannica). It is more likely that William was wounded as Sarah Ann places William's death in 1780. One would surmise that had her husband been killed the same year as her only child was born, she would have been apt to remember.

William's service is further documented (Dorman, Frederick H., Virginia Revolutionary War Pension Application, 1972. Washington, D.C.). Sarah's recollection of William WILSON obtaining pay due her husband is confirmed: "William COOMBS, soldier of the Infantry, Continental Line, was on 4 Dec 1783 granted a certificate by Virginia for 17.61.1 (pounds), delivered to William WILSON."

Sarah Ann MILLION Combs died shortly after making her petition. Her grave site is five miles south of Paris, ILL in Edgar County.

The documentation and analysis of the families of Wm. and Sarah Ann MILLION Combs, Sr. and their son is continued under William and Anna THOMPSON Combs, Jr. of Russell Co VA. See Also Montgomery Co KY.


Ed Notes: Studies of 19th century census records of the elderly show that their ages were regularly exaggerated; that is, that during each decade, an elderly individual's age was likely to advance by twelve or more years; thus it is not at all surprising that Sarah Ann MILLION Combs and her brother both believed that they were older than they actually were.

We are hopeful that currently ongoing research of the Combs Families of Stafford County, Virginia will eventually disclose the ancestry of Continental Soldier William Combs, Sr. We believe he was most probably descended from one of the Aquia Creek, Overwharton Parish Combs Families, but which one has not been determined.

In the meantime, Special Thanks to Researchers Sharon Combs Mize, Wesley Combs, John and Doris Hamilton and Mary Bryant Park for their interest and efforts on behalf of Revolutionary War Hero William Combs and his Pioneer Wife, Sarah Ann MILLION.


To William & Anna THOMPSON Combs, Jr.
To Combs Marriage Records

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This Combs &c. Research Report was prepared by: Sharon Combs Mize and Wesley Combs, 1997, and with the assistance of Combs Researchers Mary BRYANT Park & John & Doris HAMILTON.