The Combes Genealogy… by Josiah H. Combs
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Chapter XVIII

Joseph Combs and
His Family.

If Joseph is to be accepted as a son of John of Richmond [Co, VA], he was born most likely on Jett's Creek, King George County [VA], before 1685. Between 1725-1741 he patented more than 2,500 acres on Aquia Creek and its branches, in Stafford [Co, VA]. He owned land on Aquia Creek, Beaver Dam Creek, Long Branch and elsewhere. (Aquia is said to be the old Indian Quiyough Creek, up which friendly Indians led Capt. John Smyth in quest of minerals and precious stones, in 1608).

Joseph lived on the old Brenttown Road. This road ran up the south side of Aquia Creek from the mouth, crossed that creek near the mouth of Beaver Dam Creek, thence up the south side of Beaver Dam, crossing that creek near the head, then through the corner of Prince William [Co, VA], and into Fauquier [Co, VA]. Joseph's domicile can be fairly accurately determined. In the suit of Murdock vs. Ralls, at Dumfries, Prince William County, in 1754, Joseph's deposition states that he lived nine miles from Dumfries. In those days the old Potomac Trail intersected the old Brenttown Road less than a mile northeast of Aquia Church, near Aquia Creek, on the west side. This point would be just about nine miles from Dumfries, on the Potomac Trail. If Joseph lived on the Brenttown Road (running northwestward) he lived very close to this point, and on Aquia Creek. Federal Highway No. 1 practically follows the old Potomac Trail in this little section; Joseph's location, then, was very close to where the highway crosses Aquia Creek.

This old Tidewater gentleman was very well off in worldly goods, as the records attest. Before he died he deeded numerous places to his son Joseph, and slaves to Capt. John Ashby, his son-in-law. In 1750 he deeded 1,000 acres to each of his sons, John and Joseph, on Beaver Dam Run. His personal estate was considerable, including much


household stuff, horses, cattle and sheep, all of which he left to his two sons. Joseph died sometime after September 11, 1756. He left three known children: Joseph, Jane and John. (1)

JOSEPH II. At this point Josephs become numerous in northern Virginia, particularly in Loudon [Loudoun] County [VA], a fact which long ago got into the hair of genealogists and investigators. There was also an exodus of Combses from Frederick County, Maryland, and elsewhere into the same county, which confused matters even more. But the records relating to our Joseph are so copious as to render identification easy. He and Archdale, of Old Rappahannock [Co, VA], are mentioned oftener in the records than are any other Combses in Virginia. The records fairly bristle with mention of Joseph; he is buying land, selling land, conveying land to his children, sueing in the courts and being sued; moving from one county to another, building and operating taverns, ferries and grist mills. He was a hustler, an organizer, a very aggressive fellow. In one instance a bondsman offered to go to jail for him. The records indicate that he had considerable contacts with the Bullitts, Harrisons, and with Levin Powell, Revolutionery [Revolutionary] patriot and member of the first Continental Congress.

Nothing is known of Joseph's wife, except that he married Elizabeth, daughter of Burr Harrison. Some time after his marriage he moved [from Stafford Co, VA] over to the new frontier on the Shenandoah, into what is now Clarke County (old Frederick) [VA]; he was there in 1750, the year his uncle, Mason Combs, took up land there, farther up the River, above Front Royal. He ran Capt. John Ashby's ferry and tavern, located about eighteen miles southeast of Winchester [Frederick Co, VA], or in the vicinity of what is now Berry's Ferry. It was near where Federal Highway No. 50 crosses the river. Joseph later took over these operations. While here he was the subject of Washington's scathing letter to Capt. John Ashby (1755), already mentioned in the Introduction. Washington visited these Combses and Ashbys on the Shenandoah, probably during the same period, the French and Indian War, when he was the young commander of the Colonial forces up at Ft. Loudon (Winchester) [Ft. Loudoun, Winchester, Frederick Co, VA].

In 1764 Joseph is authorized by the County Court at Winchester "to keep a ferry boat on South River (South Fork of the Shenandoah) sufficient to carry a wagon and two horses." (This was right in his Uncle Mason's back alley, near Riverton, or Front Royal, in Warren County [then Frederick Co, VA]). Two years later the court refused his petition for a grist mill and he finally quit the Shenandoah, going over into Loudon [Loudoun], a short


distance away. In Loudon [Loudoun Co, VA] he lived on Goose Creek and its waters or around Deer Lick, near Great Mountain, just west of Middleburg; by 1769 he was in Prince William [Co, VA]. By 1771 he was in Loudon [Loudoun] again, where he was one of the vestrymen in Shelbourne Parish from 1771 until 1806. He died shortly thereafter, around 1808.

Almost nothing is known of Joseph's children. It is apparent that one of them was Joseph, Jr., although some of my genalogist [genealogist] friends don't agree with me. The Fauquier records show that on September 6, 1779, Joseph and Elizabeth Combs, of Loudon [Loudoun], convey to Joseph Combs, Jr., of Stafford [Co, VA], land of Darrell's Run, in the southeaster corner of Fauquier County [VA]. Joseph, Jr., married Mary . . . .; she is not to be confused with Mary Rousseau, who married another Joseph, a cousin of Joseph, Jr., This other Joseph's father was John. He would not be styled Joseph, Jr. Another son is known to have been Stephen. He died in Kentucky in Monroe County [then Barren Co, KY], in 1807.

Stephen's son, Claytor, lived in Mercer County [Co, KY]. As a result of his machinations on the Shenandoah, old Joseph had a natural son, Robert Ashby, alias Combs. (2)

JANE (JEAN). The Stafford marriage records spell it "Jean." She married Capt. John Ashby, in Overwharton Parish, Stafford County, May 11, 1741. Ashby was from Stafford, but, as we have seen, moved to Frederick (Clarke) [Co, VA]. Almost nothing is known of Jean's family, The old Kentucky Register, Vol. 24, apparently confuses John Ashby with Thomas Ashby. B.F. Flickinger, the historian, has discovered that Capt. John Ashby died between October, 1788, when Ashby made his will, and May 13,1789, when the will was probated at Dumfries, in Prince William County. Apparently John Ashby did not come to Kentucky. The Ashbys were and are, a prominent and a numerous family in Stafford. Capt. John Ashby was at Braddock's Defeat, and carried the news of the disaster to Williamsburg, the Colonial capital of Virginia. On one of his trips [George] Washington states (Diary, 1774) that he "rid to Capt. Ashby's". In 1784 (Diary) Capt. Ashby helps him onto the right road to Dumfries, Prince William County.

JOHN. This is supposedly the third and last child of old Joseph, of Stafford. He married Seth (not Elizabeth) Harrison Bullitt, oldest daughter of Capt. Benjamin Bullitt, of Fauquier County, around 1744. The Bullitts and Harrisons were celebrated families of Virginia, and at this time some of them lived in the northern part of Fauquier County. One of the most enlightened representatives of the


Bullitt family was the Hon. William Marshall Bullitt, of Louisville [Jefferson Co, KY], a lawyer of national reputation, and an authority on jurisprudence. The Combses in Fauquier and Loudon [Loudoun] [Cos VA] had numerous associations and connections with the Bullitts and Harrisons.

Some genealogists and investigators in Virginia have tripped up on the names Elizabeth and Seth. Some descendants of Seth Bullitt Combs in Kentucky (including the family of General Leslie Combs) have also confused the two names. Seth is not [a] clipped form of, nor a pet name for Elizabeth. It may have had its origin among the Harrisons, one of whom (Elizabeth) married Capt. Benjamin Bullitt, and who was Seth's mother.

Capt. Benjamin Bullitt's [Fauquier Co VA] will (dated May 3, 1766) clearly differentiates between Seth and Elizabeth. Capt. Bullitt was twice married. The will first deals seriatim with the children by his first wife, among whom is Seth: to "My daughter Seth Combs all that is in possession of the said Seth and John Combs." After specifying the legacies in favor of the children of his first wife, he makes a small gift '`unto my daughter Elizabeth Bullitt," "to her and her heirs lawfully begotten of her body, and in default of such heirs, to be equally divided between my six sons (naming them)." He also makes another bequest "unto my daughter Elizabeth above mentioned," "which legacies it is my will and desire she shall receive when she arrives at the age of 18 years, or the day of marriage."

Most certainly, then, Elizabeth is not Seth, but a child by Capt. Bullitt's second wife; and she was not born until after 1748, at least twenty years after Seth; Alexander Scott Bullitt, great-grandfather of William Marshall Bullitt, left a manuscript Memoir, written some time before 1816, the year of his death. The Memoir states that Elizabeth was born in 1736, a date which does not at all jibe with Capt. Bullitt's will. The Memoir also says that Capt. Bullitt married Elizabeth Harrison in 1727, a date which is probably correct, since Seth is supposed to have been born about 1728. Seth married very young.

As further proof that Seth and Elizabeth are not synonymous, one of the sons of John and Seth Combs, Cuthbert, named two of his daughters Elizabeth and Seth. Incidentally, John and Seth had a daughter, Elizabeth, but she was called Bettie, not Seth. I have pointed out elsewhere that the much discussed Elizabeth Bullitt may have married Stephen Combs.

John and Seth first lived in Fauquier [then Prince William], on the land of Capt. Ben-


jamin Bullitt, which land is left to them later as a legacy in the will [of] Capt. Bullitt (1766). Shortly after 1766 John was back in Stafford [Co, VA]. The Bullitt location in Fauquier [Co, VA] was in the northern, or northwestern part of the county, on or around the two branches of Goose Creek. It is west of the head of Bull Run, and a few miles west of Middleburg, in Loudon [Loudoun] [Co VA]. Federal Highway No. 50 runs through the region. By 1766, when John came back to his native county, he was living on the south side of Beaver Dam Run. The original tract, 1,000 acres, was deeded to him by his father, and lay across the creek from the 1,000 acres bequeathed to his brother, Joseph. Brother Joseph was prevented by the provisions of the deed from interfering with John and his grist mills. Beaver Dam Run, or Creek, empties into Aquia Creek. The region is in the northern part of Stafford. John later bought out Joseph on the other side of the creek. In general, the land of John and Joseph was on the head of the present Beaver Dam Creek; more specifically, it was about a mile or a little more from the Prince William and Fauquier [Cos VA] line. Near the head there are two forks of the Creek; apparently the north fork cut through Joseph's land, which extended to where the Brenttown Road crossed the south fork, or run, a little to the west. John lived on the old Brenttown Road, on the south side of the creek, some of his land lying between the road and the creek. The location, approximately, is several hundred yards north of Stafford's Store, which is on a State secondary highway, No. 611.

John died in 1785. Seth was living as late as 1819 (she was born about 1728), and appears in the records of Clark County, Kentucky, as an administrator of her son's estate. John's will, made in Stafford County, May 11, 1785, and proved September 12,1785, names seven children; one of them, John, Jr., died in 1780, making eight altogether. One of the legacies to his wife, fifteen slaves who were given them by Capt. Bullitt, indicates, among other things, that John was very well off. (3)

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