“CORRECTING” the family of Edward Erwin, Jr.
- born ca 1728 in Augusta County, VA - died in Hawkins Co, TN ca 1798 -
In 1915 one Margaret Logan Morris published a book entitled “The Irvins, Doaks, Logans and McCampbells of Kentucky & Virginia”. In the almost ninety year since it’s publication that book has been widely borrowed from by countless Erwin researchers, and incorporated into their family histories, often without further research.
Margaret Morris descends from one Samuel Irvin (1769-1837) and Jane/Jennet Brewster (1798-1843), through their son Samuel W. Irvin (1798-1843) and Jane Doak,whose daughter Elizabeth Elinor Irvin (1829-1895) married Robert Reynolds Logan. Margaret was the second child of this marriage, born 21 January 1849.
Margaret was sixty-six years old when the book was published in 1915. It’s a treasure chest of information, which must have taken years to compile. Imagine the countless people she talked with in the process of tracing the family down through many generations. She must have written hundreds of letters, and visited with as many different people.
She begins her narrative by recapping an Erinvines (Erwin-Irvin) lineage that even today cannot be said to be true, or false, and then begins the Augusta County saga with one Edward Erwin and his wife Frances, and their large family, who settled on the “ Long Glade” in the 1740s.
This is confirmed by their presence in VA records as early as 1742, when Andrew, Benjamine, John and Edward Erwin were all members of Captain John Smith’s militia company in the parent county of Orange, from which Augusta County was formed.
Margaret’s book includes land grants to the various Erwin men, father and sons, all of which have been verified, and expanded to the extent that the actual tracts of land have been “placed” along the Long Glade run on today’s map.
Digressing for a moment, on page 16 of her book Logan writes, “I have been unable to learn where Edward Erwin, Jr. died. He undoubtedly owned land on the south side of the Shenandoah in Rockingham County, and possibly died there, where all the Court records were destroyed by fire during the late Civil war. Yet he may have moved to Kentucky, where many of his children located”.
Morris could not have known that Edward and his second wife, Mary Fowler Erwin, removed to Tennessee, along with several other families, as will be shown following.
On 15 Dec 1777 Edward Erwin and his wife Mary sold 135 acres of land, situated on the Mossy Creek, to Henry Miller and Mark Bird, being the same land patented to Edward Erwin, Jr. on 12 May 1770. That land is situated at
the intersections of the Scenic Highway and Mt. Solon Road. Two nearby stone houses may have been built by Edward Erwin, who sold the land to Miller with all “appurtenances”. In 1783 Edward and Mary sold his remaining land, consisting of 206 acres, again to Henry Miller. This land came from of two tracts of land originally granted to Edward Erwin, Sr. 86 acres were from tract of 350 acres, the remaining 110 from a 220 acre tract of land. That second tract of land lies on Fadley Road, about halfway between Centerville and the Scenic Highway.
At this time Edward was about 56 years of age, and was apparently selling his land prior to removing to “the territory south of the Ohio”, now Hawkins Co., TN. Shortly after their arrival Edward and Mary affiliated with the New Providence Presbyterian Church, then located in Carter’s Valley, by virtue of a “letter” from the Mossy Creek Presbyterian Church in Augusta Co. Others from Mossy Creek were Samuel McPheeters and his wife, Margaret Searight and Samuel Curry and his wife Mary Searight, a sister to the wife of McPheeters.
On 24 March 1788 Edward and Mary Erwin wrote a letter from “Holstein River Hawken County” to “cousin” William Fowler, who then resided in either Augusta or Rockingham Co., regarding money owed by Fowler to one Gentry. In that letter Edward asked to be remembered to Captain James McGill.
Under date of 1 Jun 1790 an indenture was made by Thomas Amis to Edward Erwin, setting over a tract of 600 acres of land situated in the county of Hawkins on the north side of the Holston River, for the consideration of three hundred pounds of Virginia currency. This land was granted by the state of North Carolina to one William Colvert on the 23rd day of October 1782.
At least four children, Francis and Benjamin, believed to be of Edward’s first marriage to Mary Curry, and two daughters, Sarah and Margaret born of the second marriage, traveled south with Edward and Mary, and in the 1790’s resided on the above mentioned land, now known as Phipps Bend. One daughter, Sarah, married William Phipps, while Margaret married James Surguine.
In 1791 Edward’s youngest son, Benjamin, filed suit against his father Edward in the Superior Court of Washington Co., TN. This was a dispute over land promised to his deceased older brother Francis. A transcript of that litigation is on file in the Tennessee State Library in Nashville, and was finally culminated in March of 1800, at which time Edward Erwin, Jr. was deceased. Some random “receipts” suggest that Mary Fowler Erwin might have survived her husband, at least for a short time.
Morris was also unaware of the WILL of Edward Erwin, which names his children. While the original document has been “lost to time” a copy exists in Hawkins Co., TN, and is shown following:
Will of Edward Erwin Dated January 6, 1794
In the name of God, Amen,
I, Edward Erwin, of the County of Hawkins in the Territory South of the River Ohio, being of perfect mind and memory do make, ordain, publish and declare my last will and Testament, in manner and form following; viz;
I allow my body to be buried in a decent manner also my worldly goods that divine providence has in the life blessed me with I dispose of in the manner following:
I allow all my just debts to be paid.
I give and bequeath to my beloved wife after my decease all right and title to the plantation I now live on during her natural life. Also one negro woman named Mariah, one negro boy named Dan, Also all the stock of horses, cows and together with all the implements belonging to the farming business.
I give and bequeath to my daughter Francis Erwin, one dollar.
I give and bequeath to my son John Erwin one dollar.
I give and bequeath to my son William Erwin one dollar.
I give and bequeath to my son Edward Erwin one dollar.
I give and bequeath to my son Andrew Erwin one dollar.
I give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Erwin one dollar.
I give and bequeath to my son Robert Erwin one dollar.
I give and bequeath to my son Samuel Erwin one dollar.
I give and bequeath to my daughter Mary Erwin one dollar.
I give and bequeath to my son Benjamin Erwin one dollar.
I give and bequeath to my daughter Sarah Erwin, after the death of myself and my wife, one half of all my moveable estate except such parts as shall hereafter be specified.
I give, devise and bequeath unto my daughter Margaret my plantation on which I now live, containing two hundred acres or more, to her and her Heirs forever, subject however to the reservation aforesaid in favor of my wife.
Also one negro girl named Sarah and all her issue at my decease. Also one half of my moveable estate at the decease of myself and wife.
I do hereby constitute and appoint my trusty friends Samuel McPheeters and Joseph McMin Executors of this my last Will and Testament, and I do hereby revoke, make null and void all and every other past Will and Testament heretofore by me made, ordaining, publishing, making and declaring this and no other to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this thirty first day of January A.D. 1794.
s/ Edward Erwin
Signed, Sealed, published, declared and acknowledged by the said Edward Erwin to be his last will and Testament in the presence of us, who were present at the same time.
No probate or other settlement record has been found. Nor can many of the children named in his WILL be “found”. The promised “corrections” to the Logan book begin here. On p. 14 she wrote: The children of Edward and Mary, his wife (she was also unaware that he was twice married, first to Mary Curry and second to Mary Fowler) as far as I have been able to learn, in many ways, were as follows:
1.Edward, b. 1740 and reported to have married a Curry.
This Edward is the oldest son of John and Jean Curry Erwin, who first married Elizabeth Curry in 1762, and in 1809 married Sarah Percy. A daughter of this second marriage married Abraham Hanna. Her children are named on p.15, with a further statement: “Hugh and Henry Francis (Hanna) own and live on the original Edward Erwin place on Mossy Creek, adjacent to the old iron works. The old Hanna place is a mile or so west of the original land of Edward Erwin, Jr., and was never owned by Edward Erwin, Sr., but by Edward, the son of John & Jean Curry Erwin.
Edward and Mary Curry Erwin deeded 200 acres of land to their son Edward, identifying him as “Edward the younger”. The son Edward also had a wife Mary. They lived for a time in Greenbrier County, VA, then in 1790 sold the 200 acres above to Nicholas Mires, and were not found in VA afterwards. There was a younger Edward in Hawkins Co., TN by 1800, also not identified, who could have been the father of James and William Erwin, or possibly an older brother.
2.Benjamin Irvine, born about 1750 to 1755, and married Sarah Brewster July 23, 1780 (See J. W. Wayland’s
History of Rockingham County, p. 445).
In spite of an extensive search the parents of the Rev. Benjamin Irvine are still unknown, even though he has been identified as a son of Edward & Mary again and again. While Edward had a son Benjamin, already mentioned here, he was some twenty years younger than the Rev. Benjamin. The Rev. Benjamin was prominent in both Augusta and Rockingham Counties as a Presbyterian minister for many years, before removing to Madison County, KY, where in died, circa 1827.
3.James Irvine, with a wife Mary, located in Kentucky. June 15, 1793. James Irvine was deeded by Thomas Wisden and wife Catherine 120 acres of land on the Kentucky River, in Madison County, Kentucky.
Refer to Edward’s Will. Edward did not have a son James. The James mentioned here may be the son of a David Erwin who lived in Madison Co., KY, where the Rev. Benjamin settled, as did Samuel, the ancestor of Margaret Logan Morris.
4.“John Irvin, son of Edward Erwin, is about to remove to the frontier of N. C., 1788.” Chalkley MSS.
This John has not been identified. There is a mystery Edward Erwin in Augusta Co., who was deceased by 1785, of whom almost nothing is known.
Edward Erwin, Jr. had a son John, believed to be his oldest son. In 1783 Edward and Mary deeded John Erwin 46 acres of land on the east side of Long Glade, being land granted Edward by patent on 12 May 1770. By 1793 this John not only owned that original 46 acres, but then owned a total of 570 acres, that included most of the original land of Edward Erwin, Sr. This John, born circa 1750, died in 1814. The maiden of name of his wife Mary has not been found. She was possibly a Bell, maybe a Harrison or even a Hogshead.
This John, and his wife Mary, had a son Edward, who was twice married, first to Mary Stuart, and then to Mary Bratton. Edward removed to Ohio. A daughter Margaret married Bethel Herring, while another daughter Mary married Francis Bell. Their second son, Thomas, married Sarah Hogsett, and moved to the state of Illinois, the third son John married Ann Crawford. Both John and his wife died when their three sons, John H., George H. and James A. C. were quite young. The last two children of John and Mary were a daughter Jane, and a fourth son, James. Neither married.
If this John is indeed the son of Edward and Mary Curry Erwin he is the only one of their children to be found in Augusta County into the 1800s.
5. William, moved to Orange County, Indiana. He has descendants living in that county yet.
From the Morris file it would appear she simply saw William in a book of VA soldiers, he fit age wise, so she added him. Remember then the resources were primarily published book, family bibles and family legend – no microfilmed records, little if any access to the census records, and probably minimum access to indexes in the court records. A check of that William’s DAR file reveals that he was born at Irvine’s Ferry in Halifax County, VA, then later lived in Fayette Co., KY, on land purchased from the parents of his wife, Mary “Polly” Pigman, and by 1818 had moved to Orange Co., IN, where he died in 1850. He did have a son Jesse, whose daughter Elsa (or Etta) married Frank King. She and her husband were found in the 1880 Census of Orange Co., IN and the ancestry has been confirmed by a descendant, Joe Elliott, who also attested to originally taking information “found in books” as truth!
It could be that Edward and Mary’s son William is identical to the William Erwin, with a wife Mary, who lived in Ohio Co., KY, and who are believed to be the parents of Francis below.
6.Francis located in Kentucky.
Edward and Mary Curry Erwin did have a son Francis, who went with them to TN, and died in Hawkins Co., preceding his father in death. He was the “root” of the extensive litigation mentioned previously. Luckily that entire file was copied by WPA workers during the depression, as the microfilmed original is no longer legible.
Another book may be the source of Margaret’s assumption that Francis went to Kentucky. A Francis Erwin, who lived in Ohio Co., KY has the distinction of being the first white man hanged in that county. This occurred in 1826.
This Francis seems to the son of one William Erwin, who may have married a Mary Rutledge. Please take note of the words “seems to be” and “may have”. This William is found in the Ohio Co., KY tax lists, living on Rough Creek, beginning in 1801, up to his death circa 1828. He had other children; Edward, Mary, John, Jane, Sarah, William, and Elizabeth. Edward died unmarried in Ohio ca 1819/20. The other siblings then removed to Indiana, some to Warrick County, other to Gibson County.
So the “hanged” Francis was not the son of Edward and Mary. His father William could be, but in spite of an extensive search, both in KY and IN, no proof was found.
Ironically, an otherwise unidentified Edward Erwin, b. ca 1785, came to Spencer Co., IN, with a wife Mary “Polly” McNeely, who he married in Logan Co., KY in 1813. This Edward may have had a sister Lucy, and possibly a brother James, based on Spencer County marriage records. All three are total mysteries.
7.David, who went to Sullivan Co., TN
Edward and Mary Curry Erwin did not have a son David. This David is one of the eight children of a William and Jane (perhaps Stephenson) who lived on the Middle River near the Old Stone Meeting House. Other children were John, William, Samuel, Sarah, Mary, Ann, and Margaret. The identification of this family stems from a letter Samuel wrote to his brother David. William Erwin, the father of the children named here, purchased 241 acres of land on Walker’s Run, a branch of Cathey’s River, now Middle River.
William died circa 1758. In 1771 his son Samuel purchased an additional 111 acres of land on the Middle river and two other tracts of land, on the south side of the Middle River of ‘Shanandore”, known as Bald Rock. Samuel’s WILL is found in Chalkley’s (p. 88, d/5 Sept 1811). His widow, Mary removed with their children to Madison Co., Ohio.
The names of the descendants of William and Jane, and also of their son were the same names used by the “Long Glade” Erwin families, insuring complications to even the most serious genealogist!
Finally, in October of 1795 David Erwin and his wife Jean, still residing in Sullivan Co., TN sold the 241 acres of land on the Middle River to Robert Reed.
Edward and Mary Curry Erwin had a daughter Mary. How Morris knew that she left Rockingham, where she was never know to have lived, and removed to Fayette Co., KY has not been determined. This Mary is more likely one of three children born to William and Jean above, and one of the three babies baptized at Tinkling Springs in 1745, 1746 and 1748 ..
9.Margaret, both (meaning Mary above) left Rockingham and settled in Fayette Co., KY
Comment above by Morris! However. this Margaret is probably a daughter of William and Jane, and sister to Mary above.
Edward Erwin, Jr. and his second wife Mary Fowler did have a daughter Margaret, who as mentioned previously, married James Surguine in Hawkins County, TN.
10.Samuel Irvine, b. February 1760, married Jane/Jennet Brewster.
Edward and Mary Curry Erwin had a son Samuel, who if family legend is accurate could well be properly identified, were it not for Margaret Logan Morris’ insistence that her ancestor Samuel, and the Rev. Benjamin Irvine were brothers. Clearly Edward and Mary’s son Benjamin, who married Jane Hagood in TN, was not the Rev. Benjamin.
An uncle of Morris told stories he heard as a teenager of how his grandfather, Samuel above, spoke of his brothers and sisters and their homes on Mossy Creek, near Miller’s Iron Works. Edward Erwin, Jr. probably first lived on the land he sold to Miller for the “iron works” and his Samuel cannot be positively identified elsewhere.
Another family “tale” recounted by Morris is that her grandfather, Samuel W., the son of Samuel and Jane/Jennet Brewster recalled a visit by an uncle, who was a Presbyterian minister, to the family home in Madison Co., KY, where both Samuel and the Rev. Benjamin then lived. Would not the husband of his mother’s sister be called Uncle? This Samuel’s wife was a sister to Sarah Brewster, the wife of the Rev. Benjamin.
Aside from the “facts” presented here the search continues insofar as what happened to most of the children named in Edward Erwin’s 1896 WILL. By the time of the Will his son Francis was deceased, Benjamin, the youngest son, thought to have been born ca 1770 had married Jane Hagood, and had children, who have not been positively identified. The families of the two younger daughters, Sarah Erwin Phipps and Margaret Erwin Surguine are well documented.
This writer descends from one James Erwin, who was born ca 1793 in TN, and died in 1850 in Perry County, MO. He served in the War of 1812 out of Hawkins Co., TN, along with a brother William Erwin, and one Edward mentioned previously as either an older brother, or possibly his father.
James married Rosannah McKirgan in Hawkins Co., TN in 1818, and removed shortly thereafter to Limestone Co., AL. In 1838/39 he and his family relocated to Perry County, Missouri. Three years after his death his wife secured 160 acres of “bounty land” for the service of her husband in the War of 1812.
The “facts” here represent many hours of research, by the writer and a distant Ervin cousin, Laten Ervin Bechtel, Ph.D, of Staunton, VA, who has diligently searched the Augusta Co., VA courthouse files, again and again.
Lou Hudson Pellican (Ms)
St. Louis, Missouri