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Jamestown to Perry County (The Combs Family Migration) (1619-1795) By Doug Epperson
It has been documented that the large population of the Combs family in Perry County and other areas of Eastern Kentucky was due to the “eight” Combs brothers and their families who settled there. The following is an attempt on my part to trace the migration of the Combs family from the Atlantic coast to Eastern Kentucky. *Note: Some of the dates below may not be entirely accurate as they were taken from various books written on this subject. May 20, 1619 - A year before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock, a ship named Marigold docked at Jamestown, Va. A passenger on this ship was one John Combs, or Coombes, an indentured servant from England. John Combs died in Yorktown, VA in 1640. (Jamestown is abt 25 miles from Yorktown) December 25, 1625 - Archdale Combs (son of John “Jamestown” Combs) was born in Jamestown, VA. Archdale lived in both Essex and Richmond Counties. These counties were separated by the Rappanhannock River. 1665 -Archdale was living King George Co and later that year in October was living about fifteen miles from Fredericksburg. This land is now located on the Fort AP Hill Military Reservation close to Port Royal, VA. Records indicate that he may not have stayed long at this location and moved back to Westmoreland, Co, VA. Archdale died in Middlesex CO, VA. In 1692. Abt. 1662- John “Richmond” Combs (son of Archdale Combs) was born in Westmoreland County, VA before his father moved to Caroline Co, VA. 1712/14- John “Richmond” Combs was living near Port Royal, VA. John Combs' land in Caroline County was on Peuman's End Run, whose mouth is about three miles from Port Royal, VA, or several hundred yards from where Highway No. 301 crosses Mill Creek. (very near where John Wilkes Booth was killed). Abt 1716- John “Richmond” Combs died. John “Richmond” Combs was born in Westmoreland Co, VA and died in Richmond Co, VA. These counties are located between the Rappanhannock and Potomac rivers. 1714- Mason Sr “Stafford” Combs (son of John “Richmond” Combs) was born in Caroline Co, VA on Peumans End Creek (close to Port Royal, VA) Abt 1735 John SR Combs (father of the eight and son of Mason SR. Combs) was born in either Westmoreland or Caroline Co, VA. The ancestors of the Combs Families who settled in Eastern Kentucky lived on the Virginia coast for over one hundred years before they began to migrate west. The descendants of these families may still be living there if not for the “itchy feet” of Mason SR Combs. 1740-1750 Mason SR Combs lived in Stafford Co, VA close to the Potomac River. 1754 Mason SR Combs lived in the vicinity of Brush Bottom Ford, on the north side of the South Fork of the Shenandoah, four miles from Front Royal (present-day Warren Co, VA). State Highway No. 12 runs close to the vicinity, which is the first eastward turn of the river below McCoy's Ford (now-Warren Co, VA) 1754 John SR (Father of the Eight) lived close to Winchester, VA near Front Royal, VA where his Father Mason was living. John and his family lived here until abt 1780. 1755 John SR (Father of the eight) served in the French and Indian War with his brother Josiah. 1767 Mason SR Combs moved southward into Pittsylvania County. Mason's location is thought to have been on the headwaters of Banister River, a little to the west of Chatham, Va (Pittsylvania Co, VA), and in the western part of the county. 1780 Mason SR Combs had moved to Surry County, North Carolina. (This location in Surry could have been close to Elkin or Jonesville on I-77). This would be about 30 miles south of the Virginia border. 1780 After serving three years in the Continental Army, John SR then moved to Surry County, North Carolina. 1784 John Sr. sold his land and grist mill in Surry Co, NC to Mason, his father and moved over into Montgomery (into what is now Roanoke County,VA). November 16, 1785 Mason SR “Stafford” Combs died in Surry Co., NC. John SR is supposed to have gone to the Holston (River Valley), in Tennessee, and joined some of his older sons including John “Soldier” Combs and Nicholas “Danger” Combs for their trip over into Kentucky. At Kingsport, TN "Danger" Nick lived on Long Island (Sullivan Co, TN), a part of which is now inside the city limits of Kingsport, which is situated at the forks of the Holston River. Prior to Kentucky becoming a state the following had occurred: 1772 - All of what is now the State of Kentucky was the County of Fincastle County, VA. 1776 - Fincastle County was divided and the Kentucky section became Kentucky County, VA 1780 - Virginia set aside all land in Kentucky County for soldiers who had served in the Revolutionary War. Kentucky County was divide into three counties, Jefferson, Fayette, and Lincoln. The section now containing Perry County became Fayette County, Virginia. 1785 - Fayette County was divided and the part now containing Perry became Bourbon County, Va. 1792 - June 1, 1792 Kentucky was granted Admission to Statehood. When Kentucky became a state, there were nine counties in the Kentucky district (Lincoln, Fayette, Jefferson, Nelson, Bourbon, Mercer, Madison, Mason, and Woodford) Shortly after 1792 the section now containing Perry was Clark County, which was formed from Bourbon and Fayette. 1796 - The part now containing Perry became Montgomery County, Kentucky. 1799 - The part now containing Perry became Floyd County, KY. 1820 - Perry County was formed from Clay and Floyd Counties. About 1795- As nearly as the date can be determined, the descent of the eight brothers upon what is now Perry County began. Leaving Kingsport, they went a few miles northward, crossed the gap in Clinch Mountain, or Moccasin Gap, by Gate City (now-Scott Co, VA), following the old Wilderness Road, they crossed the Clinch River, then Powell Valley. After leaving the Wilderness Road, they went up the valley by Big Stone Gap, Appalachia and Norton, and a few miles on up to the mouth of Indian Creek, then up Indian Creek by Wise and Pound to Pound Gap, where they looked down upon the great wilderness before them, Kentucky. Dropping down into the valley below, they continued on down the Kentucky River. It is not known if all the brothers made the trip together or how many trips they actually made before they settled in Eastern Kentucky. They probably made more than one trip, first to select their land and build a cabin, and then they later returned with their families and possessions. Today hwy 23 from Kingsport, TN to the Payne Gap, Jenkins ,KY area would follow the above route. They probably entered Kentucky around Payne Gap or Jenkins. (Letcher Co, KY). At Payne Gap the North Fork of the Kentucky follows hwy 119 to Whitesburg, KY. At Whitesburg the river follows hwy 15 for awhile until it dips down and follows hwy 7 from Blackey, KY to Jeff, KY. From Jeff, the river follows hwy 15 down through Hazard. If the brothers followed the river, which I think they did, because it would have been the lowest and easiest path through the mountains, the above is probably the path they would have taken. This journey from Kingsport, TN to Hazard, KY would have been a distance of more than 130 miles. Combs Settlers: JOHN SR COMBS (Father of the eight brothers) lived with his son William around Defiance, KY. He is buried there. NICHOLAS “DANGER” COMBS settled several miles below Hazard where the community of Combs is now located. He owned most of Lott's Creek. "Danger" is buried on the Lorenzo Combs place, on Meadow Branch. MASON “Mace” Combs settled on the Kentucky River, at the mouth of Carrs Fork (present location of Jeff) on a place later owned by his grandson, "Preacher" Ira Combs. He was the most extensive landowner of any of the brothers. He owned miles of land up the Kentucky River, including all of Mace's Creek (named for him). JOHN JR. “SOLDIER JOHN” COMBS took up land on the North Fork of the Kentucky River at Lines Fork in what is now Letcher County. Soon after 1831 the veteran had moved below Hazard to Combs, Kentucky. ... HARRISON (HENRY) COMBS settled in the "Big Bottom", now the upper part of Hazard. He engaged in the business of transporting produce by flatboat down the Kentucky River to the Ohio River, then down the Ohio and the Mississippi River to New Orleans, LA. (Those river men would walk all the way back to Kentucky, through an almost trackless wilderness). He later moved to Johnson County, Indiana. GEORGE settled above Hazard, on the site of what is now Lothair, KY. He was a carpenter and a sleigh or sled maker. WILLIAM ("Old Buckery") COMBS settled at the mouth of White Oak branch, just below Vicco, on Carr 's Fork. This is the present site of Defiance, KY. This is identified as the old John J. Godsey place. William's father, John SR (Father of the eight brothers), is presumed to have lived with him, as he is buried on the place. William did not remain for long on Carrs 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. ELIJAH (Gen. 'Lige") Combs settled in the present site of Hazard and is known as “The founder of Hazard”. BIRAM COMBS did not stay long in Perry County. He went to a new county (Wayne Co, 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.