Fayette County Skaggs Families

James Skaggs and Elizabeth Miller

My guess is that most of the people around Ansted in Fayette County, West Virginia, are related somehow to James Skaggs and Elizabeth Miller. I am descended from them three times. They are my GGGG grandparents.

James Skaggs, born 25 February 1780, in Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia), and Elizabeth Miller, born 28 October 1787, in Augusta or Rockbridge County, Virginia, were married in March 1805 in Monroe County, (West) Virginia. A record of this marriage can be found in Monroe County, West Virginia: A List of Marriage Bonds 1799-1846, by Oren Morton.

On the copy of the original bond below, signed by James Scaggs and Valentine Miller (Elizabeth’s father), Elizabeth’s name is shown as Betsey.

The marriage was recorded in Monroe County, Virginia, but that is now in West Virginia. Researchers are sometimes confused about the location. They were not married in the town of Monroe, which is in Amherst County, Virginia.    

There is no official record of the birthdates. The only sources for the birthdates of James and Elizabeth were numerous family members who passed down information from child to grandchild to great-grandchild, and so on. My mother interviewed many Skaggs descendants in Fayette County over several years in the 1950s. Her information agrees with the note below, which was passed on to me from another relative (Milburn Skaggs) and was handwritten by Lula Mae Skaggs Harrah (1888-1954), a great-granddaughter of James and Elizabeth. I do not know if the initial “B” is correct because I have not seen it elsewhere. I have seen the initial “A” but without documentation. Census records do not contradict these dates.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Valentine Felton Miller and Susana Ensminger, and was probably named for her paternal grandmother, Catherine Elizabeth Ensminger Miller. Elizabeth’s father and mother were related through the Ensminger line.

Most descendants of James Skaggs believe he was the son of Charles Skaggs, who deeded his land in the Ansted area to James and his brother Joseph. This fact has been restated many times by family members and in local history, particularly in the November 2, 1911, issue of the Fayette Journal (online at Ancestry.com). The notes of Lula Mae Skaggs agree; however, I have not seen evidence in official documents.

Joseph’s land included a home that was later known as Tyree Tavern. This is a very well-known historical site in Ansted. It was right around the corner from my grandma’s house, and I remember it being pointed out to me and being told that it had been Joseph Skaggs’s house.

                        Halfway House – Tyree Tavern – Home of Joseph Skaggs

A marker on the site provides information. Much more detail is provided on the Tyree family site.

The mother of James Skaggs and Joseph Skaggs is unknown. However, her name was NOT Lucy or Laura Thompson. A different Charles Skaggs married someone by that name. This can be found in Archibald Thompson’s Diary, which is online. There was also a different Charles Skaggs in Putnam County, Georgia, who had a brother named James.

Shirley Ulaki’s book Royalty Among Us says that after Charles died, James was raised by his grandfather, Thomas Skaggs, of Wolf Creek, Monroe County. No evidence has been found to contradict this, since there is evidence that James was living in Monroe County. Records show that his uncle, John Skaggs, deeded him some land there in 1802, shortly before James got married. Perhaps this was part of his inheritance from his father, but that has not been verified.

I could not find James Skaggs in census records for 1810, but he is shown in the 1820 census for Nicholas County. Dyer’s Index to Land Grants shows James Skaggs obtaining a grant in 1822 there on the waters of New River. He was very involved in the development of the area around Ansted and is often mentioned in official records as reported in History of Fayette County, West Virginia, by J.T Peters and H.B. Carden, first published in 1926. This is online at Ancestry.com.

The book Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices by Elizabeth Axelson at Clayton Library in Houston lists James as the first postmaster of Mt. Cove in Nicholas County. Fayette County was formed from Nicholas County in 1831. After 1837, James served as Sheriff and as Justice of the Peace. Beginning in 1840, James Skaggs appeared in the Fayette County census.

In the records of Lula Mae Skaggs and Grover Cleveland Skaggs (great-grandchildren) the only children were the 13 seen here. The dates can be verified in county records and will be shown in later posts about this family.

This Bible record of unknown origin confirms the birthdates of most of the children. Some people list Louisa Skaggs as one of their children. She was NOT the daughter of James and Elizabeth Miller Skaggs. There were other Skaggs families throughout southern West Virginia, and I have not confirmed her parents. This record names Phebe, Thomas, Susan, Valentine, Frances, Cynthia, Hiram, and James Pemberton. It does not show Cyrus, Elizabeth, Leah, Sarah, and Edna, the last five children. There are some Skaggs-related family photos and items at Antioch Baptist Church Museum in Ansted, but I have not been there and cannot confirm what they have. Here is a link with more information.

Skaggs Bible, Owner Unknown

I do not know the exact date of death for either James or Elizabeth, but from the Fayette County probate documents below, it appears James died between October 1863 and October 1864. My records say that Elizabeth died in 1869, but I have no documentation for that. I do not know where they are buried, so I would be grateful to hear from anyone who does know.

Will Books, 1832-1969; Author: West Virginia. County Court (Fayette County); Probate Place: Fayette, West Virginia

Many people are related to James and Elizabeth, and much has been written about them. I am indebted to all those who have already done so much research on this family.

Finally, I have included census transcriptions from Ancestry.com.

Census Records

1830; Census Place: Nicholas, Virginia; Series: M19; Roll: 198; Page: 189; Family History Library Film: 0029677

1840; Census Place: Fayette, Virginia; Page: 151

1850; Census Place: District 14, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M432_943; Page: 344A; Image: 293

The Kious children shown were the children of Frances Skaggs and her husband, Nicholas Kious, both deceased by 1850.

1860; Census Place: District 3, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M653_1344; Page: 374; Family History Library Film: 805344

I believe the child listed as Mary E. Skaggs was actually Mary E. Sadler, daughter of Leah Skaggs Sadler, and her husband, Shadrack Sadler.  Leah had died by this time, so that is probably why she was with her grandparents.

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