The Eight Brothers
They settled down; that is, most of them. And most of them were born in Warren (old Frederick and Shenandoah) County, Virginia, as subjects of the king of England. The data which follow are not intended to be complete; the complete families, as far as it is possible to determine them, are listed under the General Table, at the end of this work. (1)
MASON. Born about 1757-1759, in Warren County [then Frederick Co VA]. Married Jenny Richardson. He was probably married in the early 1780's. Settled on the Kentucky River, at the mouth of Carr's Fork [then Floyd Co, KY], 1795-1796) [sic], on a place later owned by his grandson, "Preacher" Ira Combs. Most extensive land owner of any of the brothers. Owned miles of land up the [Kentucky] River, including all of Mace's Creek (named for him); is said to have sold the entire creek for a hound dog and hunting rifle. Bonaparte ("Boney") one of his youngest sons, says: "My father took up all the land he could in his own name, and then took up in his daughter Willie's name. He owned six miles up Carr, also up and down North Fork. He had land in Tennessee. He left his land on the Holston [River]; said there were Indians in Kentucky, and if he could not live here he would have his land to go back to. He never sold it. "Boney" states (also in the Dickey diary) that his last and youngest sister was born in Kentucky, before any of the sons were born. If Washington, Mason's oldest son, was born in December, 1797, it looks as though Mason had permanently settled in Perry [Co, KY] by 1795-1796.
Mason's brother William, and his father, John, lived at the mouth of White Oak [Creek], near Vicco [now-Perry Co, KY]; and so, Mason did not own six miles up Carr. But he did probably own most of all the land up that way at first, as "Boney" says. The thought of Indians annoyed him, as it had annoyed his grandfather, old Mason of Stafford [Co, VA], in the Shenandoah valley [then Frederick Co, VA]. His second cousin, Benjamin Combs, Gen. Leslie's father, also
married a Richardson, from a Maryland family of Quakers who had moved over to Virginia. Whatever the connection between these two Richardson families, Mason Combs did not choose to fight - either the English or French. One of the oldest of the eight brothers, he died of a typhoid epidemic in Perry, in 1822, and lies buried on the point above the new highway on the [Kentucky] River, at the mouth of Carr's Fork. (2)
Washington ("Luke"), Mason's oldest son (b. in 1797-1798, on George Washington's birthday), moved to Owsley County [KY]. Bonaparte ("Boney"), born in 1807, moved to Breathitt [Co, KY] in 1848, and to Owsley in 1855. Washington and Tarleton married on Christmas day [sic], 1826. Preston moved to Breathitt County. Massingill ("Mart"), born in 1810-'11, lived near the mouth of White Oak, on Carr's Fork. Clinton (Clint., or "Grizzler"), born in 1804-05, lived near the River, at the mouth of Carr. Dr. J.W. Duke, of Hindman [Knott Co, KY], relates that he once stopped at old Clint's house; and that, at dinner time, he noticed Clint eating at a little table by himself, aside from the family. He asked Clint's wife why he did that, and she answered: "He thinks he's an English lord." But, explains my brother, B.F. Combs, an attorney of Prestonsburg [Floyd Co, KY]: "He did it for meanness." Clint had one of the largest families of any of the Combses.
NICHOLAS.The Census of 1850 lists him in Perry County [KY], aged eighty-six, born in Virginia, in Warren County. His wife was dead, and none of his children were living with him at the time. He is known to have gone to Breathitt early. Again, there is no question that he was one of the eight brothers. He is doubtless the one of the brothers referred to by Ellen Churchill Semple (National Geographic Magazine, June, 1900), as continuing on down the Kentucky River to what is now Breathitt County. John, in his application for pension, 1825, calls him a brother, and states that he lived in Perry County. In November of the same year Nicholas and Henry (Harrison) Combs, of Perry County, make affidavits in John's pension case, affirming that they are brothers of the veteran. Nicholas took up land on Lost Creek, Perry County in 1830. Perry was a large county at this time, including Breathitt and much of Knott and Owsley. The Land Warrants list a Nicholas Combs, Sr., on Ball's Fork [Perry Co, KY] in 1833, and on Cole's Fork of Buckhorn, Perry County, 1835. Almost all of Cole's Fork is in the present Knott County, and very close to Breathitt. This is probably Nicholas of the eight brothers. A Nicholas Combs, Sr., bought land at the mouth of Ball's Fork, in Perry County, in 1838. He appears twice more on Ball in 1842, and on Lost Creek. (3)
The Land Warrants list Nicholas Combs, Jr. on the South Fork of the Kentucky River, Perry County [KY], in 1822. The South Fork toward its mouth is in the present Owsley County [KY], not in the present Perry or Breathitt [Co, KY]. Nicholas, Jr., could not have been the son of Samuel, nor of "Bird-Eye Nick". He was probably a son of Nicholas, under discussion. The Census of 1850, Perry County, also lists a William D. Combs, aged sixty, birthplace and wife not stated. His wife was Vina. The name William D. persists in his family. These gentlemen are unidentified, and are probably sons of Nicholas. Among the eight brothers, William had no sons, and Biram is not supposed to have had children as early as 1790, and children of the other brothers are accounted for. There is also an unidentified Jeremiah living in Perry in 1850, at the age of sixty-two, and who may be a son of Nicholas. His wife was Elizabeth, with the following children: Elizabeth, Evaline, Ephraim, Polly, Celia. (4)
Nicholas, Nicholas, Jr., Jeremiah and William D. seem to have moved to or lived in lower Perry, Breathitt or Owsley. Jeremiah lived for a time around the mouth of Troublesome [Creek] for in 1831 he took over land from old Henry Combs, Sr., who lived at the mouth of that creek at the time. Before that he had patented on Caney Creek, Breathitt, in 1820. One of old Henry's daughters, Elizabeth, married a Jeremiah Combs, probably the one in question.
JOHN. This is the Revolutionary veteran, born in Warren [then-Frederick] County, Virginia, February 7, 1761. Because he is one of the oldest of John's sons, and bearing the same given name, he has been confused with his father. Most of the documentary data to follow are from the National Archives (Pension Papers) and from the War Department, Adjutant General's office, Washington. They establish the fact that John was one of the "eight brothers", by affidavits from Henry, Nicholas and William. John's pension case is No. S 35, 851, Virginia. In his application for pension, made at Hazard [Perry Co, KY], May 13, 1825, and executed by Henry Hurst, he gives his age as stated above, and says that he enlisted for a period of three years in the Virginia line on January 1, 1777, in Frederick or Shenandoah County, Virginia, Late in 1825 two of his brothers, Henry and Nicholas, state in affidavits that the place of enlistment was Shenandoah County. He served two years and four months in Captain Jonathan Langdon and Benjamin Casey's Company of Col. James Wood's Twelfth Virginia Regiment.
In his affidavit for pension John states that shortly after enlistment Capt. Langdon marched the company to join the army of
General Washington. He was therefore under the direct command of Washington during practically all his military service. His claim for pension was based on wounds received in the neck and legs, probably at Brandywine Creek [Delaware Co, PA] (September, 1777), or at Germantown [Philadelphia Co, PA] (October, 1777). The neck wound, he claims, later caused a wen [chronic infection] on the back of his neck, and incapacitated him for work. After the battle of Germantown Washington's men marched to Valley Forge (just west of Philadelphia) [PA], and went into winter quarters December 17, 1777. John's company and regiment were at Valley Forge from January 6, 1778 until May. He was therefore in the midst of that terrible winter. Tradition has it that his father was also in the Revolution; for the unidentified John Combs that also served in our John's company and regiment may well have been the father.
John states that he was discharged from Gen. Charles Scott's Army Corps near (New) Brunswick [Middlesex Co], New Jersey, and the date would be about May, 1779. The records of the Adjutant General's office do not complete the veteran's service record; in fact, they bring it to an abrupt close on December 14, 1778, on which date it is stated that he "deserted the service". The Adjutant General admits that the records of the time are incomplete. John's service record shows that the veteran was sick in the military hospital (near Valley Forge) when his company and regiment went to Valley Forge; that he rejoined his outfit at Valley Forge Camp the following June, 1778, and was on guard duty there in July and August. Then the desertion charge! These appear to be the facts: that John's company was incorporated into another regiment and company, and that his company commander failed to make note of John's absence in his records, thus creating the suspicion that the boy (he was only a boy) had deserted. (In fact, John's old Regiment, the Twelfth, had been incorporated into some other regiments in September of 1778, and all were designated as the Eighth Virginia Regiment). Or, the boy, still unwell and feeling the effects of his wounds, and poorly clothed, fed and paid, simply ran off home for a short time, but returned and rejoined his outfit.
In those days absence from duty for only a few days without permission, was construed as desertion, even when a soldier returned voluntarily to his military duties, and the penalty was severe - death. John was not even punished for his "desertion". The old Pension Bureau evidently did not consider his absence (if any) as desertion, for pension was granted, in the sum of ninety-six dollars per annum. (After much wrangling with the Adjutant General of the Army, I
have persuaded that high "brass" to file my correspondence with him in the case. The file number is: AGAW-O 201 Combs, John.)
John Combs' pension record is an interesting case. Some time after he was granted pension (January 13, 1826, retroactive to November 19, 1825) pay was temporarily discontinued; because, as the veteran states, in August, 1834, somebody broke into his house and stole his pension certificate and thirty-six dollars in "round silver". Then, more affidavits to the effect that he was the veteran to whom pension had been granted. (More than one John Combs from Virginia served in the Revolution). Hon. Robert P. Letcher, later Governor of Kentucky and Member of Congress (for whom Letcher County [KY] was named) was active in the veteran's behalf. In 1827, in a letter dated at Lancaster, Garrard County [KY], he states that old John Combs had come one hundred miles to see him about his pension papers. (Probably from Breathitt County [KY], where his brother William lived at the time; William was supposed to be looking into the case for John). At the time application was made for pension, one Joseph Eve was Circuit Judge of Perry [Co, KY], and Jesse Combs was Circuit Court Clerk. Included in John's personal property was "one horse beast." (5)
The affidavit for pension, naming only dependents, does not mention Millie, a daughter, born in 1802, as she was already married, to William Smith (b. 1800). A son John is mentioned as having bought two cows from his father in 1824. (6)
When John's father moved from Surry County, North Carolina to Montgomery County, Virginia, John, himself, may have gone there also, for a time, although there is neither record nor tradition to substantiate this. He was living in Surry when his son Shadrach was born (1784-'85). At any rate he shows up later in the Holston [River] settlements, probably around Kingsport [Hawkins or Sullivan Co, TN]. The old Land Grants show that he took up land on the North Fork of the Kentucky River, in what is now Letcher County, late in 1816; that is the year of the survey, but he had probably built his "improver's cabin" on the land several years prior to that date. After John's affidavit for pension, the next reference to him (Perry Deed Books) is when he buys land at the mouth of Bear Brach [Branch], near the mouth of Line Fork, now in Letcher County, in 1831. This, with the fact that his son Shadrach lived later a short distance away might indicate that his patent of 1816 was around the mouth of Line Fork; also, in his affidavit he states that he lives twenty miles from the [Perry Co, KY] courthouse (Hazard).
It is apparent that some time soon after 1831 the veteran had
moved below Hazard [Perry Co, KY], and was living in the "bend" of the [Kentucky] River, on what is now known as the old Joe Brewer place, around the mouth of Meadow Branch. This last of my forefathers to be born a British subject died not far from 1840, since the pension census lists him as being alive in that year. He was buried on the opposite side of the River, on the old Matt Crawford place, where Sam Combs now lives (1947). The grave is behind the smoke-house, and a garden covers the spot.
John was twice married. It is not known who his first wife was, but it is probable that he married her in Surry County, North Carolina. His second marriage, in the late 1790's was with Margaret -----, as he states in his affidavit for pension. His known children by his first wife were: Jeremiah ("Long Jerry"), born in Surry County, about 1782; Shadrach, born in the same county, 1784-'85 (Census of 1850); Mason, born probably around Kingsport [Sullivan or Hawkins Cos], Tennessee, (1795-'96 (Census of 1850); Millie; John. In his application for pension the veteran also mentions the following dependents living with him: a daughter named Margaret Combs, aged 18, and her infant child, Hyzkiah (Hezekiah), about a year old; a daughter, Sallie Combs (married name not given), a widow, and her children: Samuel Combs, nine or ten years old, Harvey Combs, about seven, and Thomas Combs, one year old. It appears that Margaret and Sallie married Combses. (7)
The parentage of the above mentioned five children has been established beyond question. Some Perry County ladies long ago became members of the D.A.R. through descent from John and Jeremiah. But these estimable ladies were a little hazy on the identity of the proper Jerry: One of them got membership as a descendant of Elizabeth (Polly) Combs, daughter of Jeremiah Combs, and who married John Walker; but the fly in the genealogical ointment is the fact that Polly was "Chunky Jerry" Combs' daughter! The ladies knew that John Combs had a Jeremiah, but they pulled the wrong Jerry out of the hat. In his affidavit for pension, the veteran names, in addition to four grandchildren, the following children: John; Sallie, twenty-seven years old; Margaret, eighteen - all dependents, and living with him.
Shadrach (old Shade) patented on the [Kentucky] River in 1815 and 1822, probably in lower Letcher. He owned land on Short Creek and Smoot Creek (Letcher) in the 1840's and has numerous descendants in that county today. Mason lived in Breathitt and Perry [Cos Ky]. The Census of 1850
(Breathitt [Co, KY]) lists him, with his wife Matilda and eight children.
HARRISON (HENRY). He is seldom known by any other name except Harrison, although his name appears in the records as Henry. He had the itchiest foot of any of the old Combses since his grandfather. Born in old Shenandoah (Warren) County, Virginia; married Rachel Clements in Montgomery County, Virginia, in 1788; moved to Russell County, Virginia, then to the Holston [River Valley], in Tennessee; then to Perry County, Kentucky, about 1799-1800; then in 1828, farther down the [Kentucky] River to the mouth of Troublesome Creek, and finally, in 1838, to Johnson County, Indiana. The exact date of Harrison's marriage is September 21, 1788. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Edw. Morgan, and Mason Combs, Jr., one of Harrison's uncles, was a bondsman, as well as a witness. (This may indicate that his father John had already left Montgomery.) The bride's father, Benjamin Clements, lived in Montgomery. He was in the French and Indian War, serving in Col. Byrd's campaign.
There is also a family tradition that Matthew, Harrison's oldest son, was born in North Carolina. The Census of 1850, for Breathitt County, lists him as born in Virginia, and sixty years old. There is also a family tradition that he was ten years old when the family moved to Kentucky. In western Virginia Harrison probably lived either on the North Fork of the Holston (Washington County [VA]), or on Moccasin Creek, in the southern part of Russell County [VA]. In that on [sic] the two streams are only a short distance apart, and about twelve to fifteen miles west of Abingdon [Washington Co, VA ]. There was already a sprinkling of Combses on both streams, and William, one of Harrison's uncles, lived there. Years after Harrison came to Kentucky, he sent two of his older sons, Matthew and Henry, back to the present Washington County for a still with which to make peach brandy.
In Perry, Harrison settled in the "Big Bottom", now the upper part of Hazard [now Perry Co, KY]. He engaged in the business of transporting produce by flatboat down the [Kentucky] River to the Ohio [River], thence down the Ohio and the Mississippi [River] to New Orleans [Orleans Parish, LA]. (Those river men would walk all the way back to Kentucky, through an almost trackless wilderness). Harrison actually made some improvements on the flatboats. It was on these trips that he made the acquaintance of his cousins in the Bluegrass; old Benjamin Combs, Gen. Leslie's father, came up to Hazard to visit him, some time after 1810. He rode horseback all the way from Winchester [Clark Co, KY]. Leaving Hazard, he took with him a plentiful supply of Harrison's peach brandy (a hundred and twenty gallons!), floating it
down the River by flatboat to Boonesboro [Boonesborough, Madison Co, KY], thence hauling it to Winchester [Clark Co, KY].
Harrison came back to Breathitt County [KY] to visit his people, about 1848. The federal Census of 1850, for Johnson County, Indiana, does not list him, and he was probably dead by that time. He took for his second wife Phoebe Francis, of Troublesome Creek, in 1830. Much of the information concerning Harrison comes from the Rev. Samuel E. Hager, and from Miss Anna Belle Combs, of Richmond [Madison Co], Kentucky; both descendants of Harrison. The late Sen. Thomas A. Combs, of Lexington [Fayette Co, KY], was also a descendant. Senator Combs was one of the finest representatives of this branch of the family. He was also a director of the Federal Reserve Bank, Cleveland [Cuyahoga Co, OH], and a successful business man. Rev. Hager was for forty-seven years a missionary of the M.E. [Methodist] Church, South, in Japan.
Harrison's son Matthew (b. 1790-91), lived near the mouth of Troublesome Creek. Henry and Francis (Frank) lived on Big Creek [KY]. Matthew and Henry married two sisters, Frances (Frankie, Fanny) and Annie, daughters of William Brown, a Revolutionary veteran, who came to Perry from the New River, in Virginia. Stephen lived in Breathitt. George lived on Troublesome. (8)
GEORGE. He settled above Hazard, on the site of what is now Lothair [Perry Co, KY]. His house stood on Cedar Point, just above the highway. He was a carpenter and a sley [sleigh or sled] maker. Not much information about George has come down to us. He had five children: Biram, Claiborne, Elizabeth, Lydia and Matilda. Biram (b. 1813-14) married Maria Messer, and lived on Carr's Fork; Claiborne (b. 1804-05) married Sarah -----, and lived on Turkey Creek, Breathitt County; Lydia (b. 1806-07) married Moses, "Chunky Jerry" Combs' son, and lived near the mouth of Carr's Fork, and later, on Troublesome Fork. Two of Lydia's sons, "Cedar-Head" Sam and Felix, built the "Tunnel Mill", on Troublesome. Elizabeth married Zach. Morgan; Matilda was unmarried. George died in 1822-23, in a typhoid epidemic. (9)
WILLIAM ("Old Buckery"). This old pioneer was perhaps the oldest of the eight brothers. His pension record shows that he was sixty-three years old in September, 1820, and that he was born in old Shenandoah County, Virginia. It has been difficult to pin down ubiquitous "Old Buckery", to name all his habitats and to follow his career. That he came to Perry, along with his father and his brothers is certain. His nephew, Jesse, Gen. Elijah Combs' son, says that he settled at the mouth of White Oak branch, just below Vicco, on Carr 's
Fork. This is identified as the old John J. Godsey place. William's father, John, is presumed to have lived with him, as he is buried on the place. In his application for pension in 1825, John the Revolutionary veteran, identifies him as a brother.
William did not remain for long on Carr's Fork. The old Kentucky Land Grants list him as taking up 500 acres of land on another White Oak creek, in old Lincoln County [KY], in September of 1797. Part of this creek is in the present Lincoln County, and part in Boyle County. Ellen Churchill Semple, in "The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mountains", National Geographic Magazine for June, 1900, speaks of one of the eight brothers (she says there were eleven!) going to the bluegrass; this is of course William. The place mentioned in the bluegrass by his mountain kin is nearly always Fayette County [KY]. In the Dickey Diary, Andrew Combs (b. 1812-13) says: "He (William) was a farmer. I have been at his house in Fayette." But this was late in William's life; he jumped about considerably before that, and also later, as we shall see.
In the Dickey Diary, John S. Combs (b. 1819), brother of Andrew, says that William left the mountains years before he (John S.) was born. In his affidavit for pension (1825) his brother, John, states that his brother, William, lived "seventy miles distant". (John was living at the mouth of Line Fork, in Letcher County, at the time). This would put William in lower Breathitt County, or possibly in Owsley. But when William applied for pension, in 1818, he was living in Bath County [KY]. By the 1830's, or a little before, he was operating the old Combs Ferry at the mouth of Lower Howard's Creek (formerly Combs Creek), just below Boonesborough [Madison Co, KY]. One of his nephews, "Grizzler" Clint Combs visited him, with one of his boys, at the ferry. The mouth of Lower Howard's Creek is in the extreme southwestern part of Clark County [KY], and the Combs Ferry Road leads north from the ferry. The ferry was formerly known as Holder's Boatyard, for Capt. John Holder, one of the party that rescued the Boone and Callaway girls from the Indians. It is a short distance from the southeastern corner of Fayette County, where William lived for a time.
In his affidavit for pension (1818) William alleges that he enlisted in the Continental Army in the beginning of 1776, at Stoverstown (now Strasburg), in Shenandoah County [VA]; he enlisted for two years, as an orderly sergeant, and "started from Woodstock [Shenandoah Co, VA]". He served under Capt. Richard Campbell in the Eighth Virginia Regiment, commanded by Colonels Abraham Bowman and Muhlenberg.
(This was the regiment of his brother, John). William marched to Charleston, S.C. and was on Sullivan's Island (Ft. Moultrie) [SC], when the British first attacked it. Later he marched to Philadelphia [PA], and joined Washington's army. He was discharged by Gen. Scott, at Valley Forge [PA]. (His brother, John, was also discharged by Gen. Scott, at Brunswick[Middlesex Co], New Jersey). It appears that he went through the terrible winter at Valley Forge - as did his brother, John. The pension papers of John state that William [served?] as an ensign (a subaltern, probably a color-bearer).
The pension records of William state that he died in Madison County [KY], March 8, 1840. He married Nell Cloud (sixty-one years old in 1820), probably in Shenandoah, or Warren County [VA]. It is not known that he had any sons. In 1820 (pension papers) he stated that he was a schoolmaster. He had two known daughters: Mary (Polly), who married Henry Duncan, in old Lincoln County [KY], April 5, 1803; and Margaret, who married James B. Heatherly, in Madison County [KY], January 13, 1820. Probably another daughter was Wilmoth, who married Henry Burton, in old Lincoln, in 1798. One of William's aunts bore the same name. (Much of the data relating to William was furnished by Mrs. Edna Duncan Diver, one of his descendants, of Coffeyville [Montgomery Co], Kansas). (10)
ELIJAH (Gen. 'Lige"). The founder of Hazard was the first of the eight brothers to come to Kentucky. There is no foundation for the stories that he was a general in one of our wars; in fact, it is not known that he even fought in any of our wars. The roster of officers for the War of 1812 does not mention him. But he may have recruited or drilled soldiers for that war. Says John S. Combs, in the Dickey Diary: "He (Elijah) was general of the militia," whatever that meant in those days. In the same diary, Andrew, an older brother of John S., says: "I have seen old Gen. Elijah Combs at muster in his regimentals." There is at least one tradition that he fought in the war of 1812.
"Gen. 'Lige" stands out as the most conspicuous and best known of any of the eight brothers. Through his own children and descendants we have considerable data about him. The Census of 1850 for Perry County lists him as eighty years old, and born in Virginia. The exact date of his birth is March 17, 1770. His wife Sarah (Sallie) is listed as being seventy-five, and born in Virginia. There is no question that Elijah preceded his brothers to Kentucky. He married Sarah, daughter of Michael Roark, in old Montgomery County, near Roanoke], and ran away with her, so the story goes; came over Black
Mountain and down the Kentucky River, stopped with a man named Lusk at the mouth of Line Fork (now in Letcher County), for several days, then continued down the River to where Hazard [Perry Co, KY] now stands; looked the country over, stayed a year, then went back to Virginia, received the pardon and blessing of the Roarks, and set out for Kentucky again - this time with slaves, horses and cattle. (11)
There are too many detailed stories to discard the contention that Elijah was the first of the brothers to come over to Kentucky. One of them is that when he came his nearest neighbors were the above mentioned Lusk, and a man at the mouth of Grapevine [now-Letcher Co, KY], some distance down the [Kentucky] River below Hazard. He it was who discovered the new El Dorado teeming with wild game, fowl and fish, the meadows and low lands dense with canebrake, and the woodlands heavy with timber; and then, en route back to Virginia, and to the Holston Settlements [Sullivan or Hawkins Cos, TN] to tell his brothers and cousins about the Kentucky River country, probably influencing them to go to Kentucky. The year was close to 1795, possibly a little earlier.
If 'Lige possessed slaves, horses and cattle, he was well off. Once back in Kentucky he built a pretentious "ordinary", tavern or home, for that day and time, and for that part of the country. Says Mrs. Bertha Lyttle Jett, a descendant of 'Lige: "The house stood for a hundred years or more before it was torn down. It was a three-story log house, with basement and attic, and a barroom. It was also used as an inn, because they sold brandy, whiskey and ammunition. This house was plastered, and the mantels and woodwork, which I can remember, were of walnut, hand wrought, of course". It stood in the upper end of old Hazard, fronting Main Street, or about where the Middleburg buildings now stand.
Elijah Combs was a public spirited citizen, and had a number of business interests. The story that he could not read and write is not well founded: he made the official survey of the property for the public square at Hazard, which also included ten acres for the town, and deeded it to the County July 10,1826; the original of this survey is said to be among the county records at Manchester, Clay County, [KY] from which county most of Perry was carved. Elijah was a magistrate; he also served in the State Senate in 1840. One day in Frankfort [Franklin Co, KY] a lady asked him how old he was. "Madam", the old gentleman replied, "I have lived long enough to eat five hundred bushels of hominy". He is said to have brought tutors from Virginia for his children. Elijah died September 12,1855, according to Bell's Ken-
tucky Deaths, 1852-1862, for Perry County [KY], Vol. I, p.2. The same source gives September 7, 1855 as the date for Sallie's death. He left a will, probated November 8, 1855, in which he names: Jesse Combs, Sr. and Jackson G. Combs (his children), and Jesse Combs, Jr., Josiah (H.) Combs and John Combs, these three being sons of Jesse, Sr.; and three slaves. One may well wonder why the spirited citizens of Hazard and Perry County have for so long neglected to place at least a shaft in the public square of their city in honor of its founder.
"Gen." 'Lige had six or eight children. Jesse was the first county court clerk of Perry, serving either in this capacity, or as circuit court clerk, from 1820 to 1874, the year of his death. Dr. Jesse, Jr., studied medicine in Virginia. Judge Josiah H., another son of Jesse, was brutally murdered by Jesse Fields and Joe Adkins at Hazard, September 15, 1894. He was in the State Legislature, 1871-1873. Josiah's daughter Susan married Joseph C. Eversole, who was murdered by "Bad" Tom Smith and others, April 15, 1888.
It has been bruited about that Josiah and old "Chunky" Jerry's Andrew were master poker players; that they ranged far and wide, and always came back home with "whole satchels full of money." They must have dealt a wicked hand, and played with their cards close to their chests. The two gentlemen can almost qualify among our aforesaid heroes. But Josiah was a public spirited citizen, and contributed liberally to the church. One day old Woolery Eversole came to town, looked Josiah up, told him he had never given him anything in his life, and that he wanted to give him something. He then struck his hand in his bosom and pulled out a big homemade pie from his naked breast and handed it to Josiah.
The Eversole family has long been a prominent one in Perry. It descends from a Pennsylvania German family. John B. Eversole says that Jacob Eversole was the first of the line to come to Kentucky among the earliest pioneers; that he came from southeastern Pennsylvania, and stopped for a time in Ashe [then Wilkes?] County, North Carolina, thence to Kentucky. Jacob's oldest son was Woolery, father of Maj. John Eversole. Maj. Eversole served in the Union Army. Joseph C., mentioned above, was one of his sons. John B., one of Joseph C.'s sons, is a prominent lawyer, of Richmond [Madison Co], Kentucky. John B.'s children: Bertrand, died in 1901; Violet, Mollie A., Lillian, Zola, John B. (Other relations are listed in the General Table).
BIRAM ("BARM"), considered one of the youngest of the brothers; born in Warren or Surry. Like William, he did not stay long
in Perry [Co, KY]. John S. Combs says (Dickey diary) that he had seen him. There is no record or tradition that he even took up land in Perry, but he is supposed to have lived on the [Kentucky] River for a time. He went to the new county of Wayne [KY], where the Old Land Grants mention him in 1804. Later he got caught in the exodus of Combses to the new State of Indiana, going probably to John [sic] County, and was thereafter lost sight of.
Nothing much is known of Biram's family. That he had a son, Biram, Jr., is certain. His brother George also had a Biram. Biram Combs, Jr., bought land on Carr's Fork, mouth of Irishman Creek [now-Knott Co, KY], and another Biram was living on the [Kentucky] River in 1829; I have not been able to disentangle the various Birams. One married in 1836, one died in 1852, one was killed in the Civil War, and one was 32 in the Perry Census of 1850. The Robert Combs who took up land on Otter Creek, Wayne County [KY], in 1824, is a presumed son of brother Biram. (Otter Creek is in the southwestern part of the county, and flows into the Cumberland River). Eight years later a Robert H. Combs shows up on Straight Creek, Harlan County (now Bell) [KY], and may be identical with Wayne County Robert. The Census of 1850 lists three Birams, all contemporary: one in Perry, old George's son, thirty-seven years old, wife Maria, thirty-two; another in Perry, thirty-two, wife not mentioned, and children, Jesse and June; a third one in Letcher, thirty-five, wife Hannah, twenty-six, with the following children: Minda, ten, Fielding, six, Eliza, two.
The Census of 1850 for Johnson County, Indiana, lists a Harrison Combs, age 33, farmer, born in Kentucky; wife, Susan, age 33, born in Kentucky. Children: Zachariah, age 8, George W., 4, Margaret, 2. As both Harrison and Susan were born in Kentucky, it is likely that they married there, before their father moved to Indiana. This Harrison is probably a son of Biram of the "eight", who may have gone up there about the time his brother Henry went, around 1838. There is no documentary evidence that Biram actually ever lived in Wayne County, although he did take up land there. The records also show that he was a taxpayer in Cumberland County [KY], not far distant, in 1799. (12)
(NOTE ON SOME OLD [KY] COUNTIES AND THEIR LIMITS). Floyd County was created in 1799; Clay County in 1806; Harlan County in 1819; Perry County in 1820; Breathitt County in 1839; Letcher County in 1842; Owsley County in 1843. All of the eight brothers, with the possible exception of two, Biram and John, are supposed to have set-
tled at first in the present Perry County [KY]. Beginning with 1810 and continuing into the 1840's, the old Land Office records list our Combses in all the above counties. When Floyd [Co, KY] was formed it took in the present site of Hazard, at least that part of the town on the right, or north bank of the [Kentucky] River; all this territory was taken in by Clay [Co, KY], and remained a part of that county until 1820.
Clay County continued up the left, or south bank of the River to the head, including part of the present Letcher; and up the right bank to a point somewhere below the mouth of Carr's Fork. All of Carr's Fork was in Floyd till 1820, likewise the country on up to the head of the River, on the right bank. Old Mason Combs took up most of the land on Carr's Fork for a distance of five miles, apparently between 1795-1806; if the dates are correct, one would expect the patents to be listed in the Land Office under Floyd County, but they are not listed under any county, unless, by error, simply under Clay County, North Fork of the Kentucky River. Entries for Perry, on the North Fork, even after 1820, cause some confusion, for most of Breathitt [Co, KY] was in Perry until 1839; so was Letcher [Co, KY]. An entry for Perry on the South Fork after 1820 would be in the present Owsley County [KY].