Family:Whitney, Francis (s1750-a1783)

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Francis Whitney's Locations

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Francis Whitney, parentage unknown, but perhaps the same man as Francis Whitney, son of Joshua Whitney, born say by 1750, but perhaps much earlier[1] died after 1783.[2]

He married, sometime before 1773, Rachel ----. [3]

Noted Southwestern Virginia researcher, Gordon Aronhime, referred to Francis Whitney in one of his articles for the Bristol Herald Courier:

"Little is known about Francis Whitney. He and his wife, whose name was Rachael - a fact known only to us by the chance that he and she were both sued in the early courts of Fincastle County - seem to have melted away into the mist of our earliest history."[4]

Note: Botetourt County Virginia was formed in 1769 from Augusta County Virginia

1771 A List of Tithables for Captain Campbell's Company; Francis Whitney paid one tithe.[5]

1772 A list of tithables in Capt. Campbells Company for 1772 taken by R. D.; Francis Whitney paid one tithe.[6]

On 12 Nov 1773 " On the motion of Francis Whitney leave is given him to build a mill on Mill Creek, a branch of the south fork of the Holston River on his own land, it appearing to the court that it will not be to the damage of any other person."[7]

Note: In 1772, Fincastle County, VA was formed from Botetourt Co.

"The first County Court for Fincastle County assembled at the Lead Mines on New River, in the present County of Wythe, on the 5th Day of January, 1773"

On 5 Jan 1773 "Leave was given Francis Whitney and William Kennedy to erect mills of the properties on which they lived, on the Holston River."[8]

On 5 May 1773, a lawsuit was filed by Samuel Simpson against "Francis Whitney and Rachel Whitney, his wife" in Fincastle Co., VA.[9]

On 6 July 1773, Samuel Simpson vs. Francis Whitney.[10]

On 3 Mar 1774, "Francis Whitney and Rachel Whitney his wife" did not appear in court in the case against them by Samuel Simpson, and a summons was issued.[11]

On 3 May 1774, a court case was filed by Ross & Trigg verses Francis Whitney & Thomas Woolsey.[12]

On 5 May 1774, "At a court continued and held for Fincastle County the fifth day of May one thousand seven hundred and seventy four.....James Rodgers Plaintiff against Chas. Deverix & J n . Redeford Defs} In Debt ....... This day came the parties and by their attornies and therefore also a Jury (to-wit): Anthony Winston, Jn Reed, Jn Douglas, Jonathan Jennings, Sml. Sipell, Wm. Sipell, Thos. Whitton, Roger Oaks, Wm. Davis, Wm. Pruet, Francis Whitney, and John Montgomery."[13]

27 Dec 1774, Loyal Land Company survey, 220 acres, for Francis Whitney.[14] Additional information on the Gordon Aronhime index card for Francis Whitney gives the location of this land on Mill Creek, South Fork of the Holston River, Plat Book 156.[15]

Note: In 1776/77, Fincastle Co., VA was discontinued and the land split into Montgomery Co., Washington Co., and Kentucky Co. (later to become Kentucky).

On 27 May 1777, "At a Court held for Washington County May 27th 1777", Ordered that Francis Whitney be surveyor of the Road from the ford of the River below his mill to the upper ford of dry Run and that William Campbell Gent give him a List of Tithables."[16]

On 19 Aug 1777 Francis Whitney on jury Ken Wolsey in suit by Jerry ? Briton.[17]

On 18 Nov 1778 "The presentments of the Grand Jury returned yesterday is as followeth VIZ John Leatham for selling liquor without a licence and above rates...Jesse Bounds the same...Francis Whitney the same.... John Edmondson for not having the road he is surveyor of in good repair...James Berry & Francis Whitney the same.[18]

On 19 May 1779, "At a Court continued and held for Washington County May 19, 1779, Same against Francis Whitney N. Sumn,"[19]

On 17 Aug 1779, "At a Court continued and held at the Court House of Washington County August 17th, 1779", Ordered that Hugh Cole be surveyor of the Road in the Room of Francis Whitney.[20]

In 1782, "Francis Whitney" was taxed in Washington County, VA with 1 tithe, 4 horses, and 23 cattle.[21]

In 1782, Francis Whitney and Elijah Whitney are listed in the Washington County, Virginia Tithables, Colonel William Edmonson's Precinct. Probably they are the same Francis and Elijah Whitney who show up obtaining land in Christian County, Kentucky. Many of the surnames (and quite a few complete names) that surround them in this list also appear in Christian County, Kentucky in 1799, including the Edmonsons.[22] Also, appearing on this particular tax list, are 'Nawlin' (Rowland) Courtney and his son, James Courtney. They are later found, in close proximity, to the Whitney's, in Edgefield and Orangeburg County, South Carolina.

On 2 Jul 1782, a deed was recorded which mentions Francis Whitney, as follows "Esther Rafferty...400 ac...Commissioners Certificate...on a branch of the South Fork of Holstein River called Mill Creek...Beginning on Francis Whitneys line...corner to John Gross...corner on Frathas Walls land...on Walls line crossing Mill Creek...on a ridge by the Iron Mountain...on the south fork of Mill Creek"[23]

1783 Whitney, Francis, Paid one tithe; no horses or cattle.[24]

On 26 April 1783 Surveyed for Francis Whitney who was the assignee of Frathias Wall 132 acres of land in Washington County by virtue of a Certificate from the Commissioners for the District of Washington & Montgomery Counties....lying on the South side of the South Fork of the Holston River....beginning at 2 white oaks & black a large white oak by a small a hiccory & poplar on Mill Creek. Sig: David Carson D. S.; Robt. Preston, S.W.C.[25]

We the Commissioners for the District of Washington and Montgomery Counties do certify that Matthias Wall assee, of Thomas McNeil who was assee. of John Gross is entitled to 150 acres of Land lying in Washington County on mill Creek a branch of the South Fork of the Holston river, surveyed for Thomas McNeil the 18th Dec 1774 by virtue of an Order of Council dated 16 Dec 1773, to include his improvements, he having proved to the Court....actual settlement made in the year 1775 (dated) 31 Aug 1781 Teste: James Reid C.C.C. Commissioners: Jas Cabell, Harry Innes, N. Cabell.[26]

On 30 Sept 1783 "I assign my right of Certificate to Francis Whitney" Sig: Frathias Wall.[27]

Francis Whitney was mentioned in the following land record "Joseph Cole, Jr., assignee of Matthew Bishopp & c - 100 ac - Commissioners Certificate - on the north side of the South Fork of Holstein river - beginning in Sinclair's patent line - corner to Nathaniel McClure - September 13, 1785...Matthew Bishopp, assignee of Joseph Bishopp, assignee of Francis Whitney, assignee of Barney Kertley - 100 ac - on the south fork of Holstein - 77 ac surveyed March 12, 1774 for Matthew Bishop, includes improvements, actual settlement made in 1772 - August 30, 1781...Assigned to Joseph Cole, August 6, 1784. Signed: Matthew Bishop."[28]

Any written records of Francis Whitney's active presence in Southwestern Virginia seem to abruptly stop about 1785. It seems that this Francis Whitney, who apparently was never too shy about leaving his name on land, tax, and court records in Southwestern Virginia, just "disappears into the mist..'" as Gordon Aronhime so colorfully wrote, or, at least, the 'mist', in Virginia. He is still mentioned later as an adjacent land owner:

1791 April 19 Samuel Kithcart to Samuel Eakin for 110 Pounds on South Side of the South Fork Holston River granted by the Commonwealt to said Samuel Kithcart assignee of Francis whitney by Patent 26 june 1786 containing 132.[29] Note: This appears to be the same piece of land Francis Whitney acquired from Frethias Wall in 1782.

12 Sept 1798 David Phillips and wife Elizabeth to Jonathan Phillips $400 100ac. Mill Creek. Adjacent: John Jones, Francis Whitney, Mrs. Rafferty, Elijah DeBusk.[30]

It appears that, after 1785, the only Whitney's remaining in Washington County Virginia are Macon Whitney and Malcom Whitney

It is speculated that Macon Whitney left Virginia soon after his marriage, in 1787. He, his wife (Rachael DeBusk) and their baby girls could possibly be 'hidden', within the family of Francis Whitney( 2-1-5), on the 1790 Census of Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Malcom Whitney leaves only tax records, in Washington County, Virginia, from 1786-1791. There have been no other court or land records found for him, in this time frame, in Washington County. He also appears, in South Carolina, about 1815, initially showing, in the records, of Rosemary Baptist Church in Barnwell.

The final disposition of Francis Whitney's property and mill, on Mill Creek, Washington County, Virginia has not yet been found.

But yet, another Whitney Mill then appears, sometime after 1790, in South Carolina, on the Hunter's Branch (Creek) lands of Francis Whitney[31] Samuel Whitney.[32]

This mill was still in existence, in 1820, when it was surveyed by B. Busby, for the Orangeburg District page of Robert Mill's Atlas of South Carolina.[33] The Courtney Mill is also shown, several miles to the north, probably, on the 553 acres of land on Dean Swamp, originally purchased (Recorded 1791) by Samuel Whitney, James, and Jonathan Courtney.[34]

There were no known children of Francis and Rachel (-----) Whitney, though it is possible that they did have children.


Francis Whitney lived on Mill Creek, a branch of the South Fork of the Holston River, near "Iron Mountain". The Iron Mountains currently run through what is now the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. This range is close to the Holston River approximately between Holston Mill, VA and Sugar Grove, VA.

All of the above stated information/documentation for the Whitney's in Washington County, Virginia may well be all that will ever be found. A fire set by Union troops burned the Washington County courthouse on 15 December 1864. Lost were the county court minute books, 1786-1819, and 1821-1832. Also destroyed were the chancery records for 1777-1835. Future research should concentrate on finding any other possible earlier records for Francis Whitney in Southwestern Virginia: Augusta County prior to 1769; Botetourt County 1769-1770: and Fincastle County 1772-1777.

The closest other Whitney to Southwestern Virginia, from about 1740 to 1785, was a Jeremiah Whitney who owned property in Albemarle/Buckingham, Amherst, and Bedford Counties. This Jeremiah Whitney had owned a mill, in the Albemarle/Buckingham County area, since about 1755. The close geographic proximity of these two Whitney's, in the sparsly populated wilderness frontier region, in that time frame, would suggest some connection between Francis Whitney of Washington Co., VA and a Jeremiah Whitney in central Virginia. Could these Whitneys be related to Joshua Whitney who had sons named Francis and Jeremiah?

There is a possible familial relationship between Francis Whitney and Elijah Whitney of Washington County, Virginia. Both men are listed on early tax lists for Washington County, VA.

Although there is no evidence to support it, the following may have been children or otherwise related to Francis due to their proximity in Washington Co., VA:

If Francis was the same person as the Francis Whitney who shows up in Orangeburg South Co., SC in 1790, then the following might have been sons or otherwise close relatives as well:


1.^  Purely an estimate.

2.^  Ibid.

3.^  Fincastle County Court, Book 1, Page 54.

4.^  Article: "Aronhime, Gordon, Holston and Clinch: Down by the old Mill", Bristol Herald Courier, 12/08/1963.

5.^  Botetourt County Circuit Court Clerk's Office, Recorded in Tithable Book, Volume 1, Page 35)

6.^  Botetourt County Circuit Court Clerk's Office, Recorded in Tithable Book, Volume 1, page 77.

7.^  Botetourt Court Records, Annals of Southwest Virginia by Lewis Preston Summers, p.166.

8.^  Summers, Lewis Preston, Annals of Southwestern Virginia 1769-1800, Genealogical Pub. Co., 1970 Vol 1, Page 132

9.^  Fincastle County Court Book 1, Page 54.

10.^  Fincastle County Court Book 1, Page 80.

11.^  Fincastle County Court Book, Page 26.

12.^  CHRONOLOGY OF REVEREND THOMAS WOOLSEY & SARAH PIERCE, citing "Annals of Southwest Virginia", Book: 975.5 H2sl; 1774 WASHINGTON COUNTY, VIRGINIA.

13.^  Summers, Lewis Preston, Annals of Southwestern Virginia 1769-1800, Genealogical Pub. Co., 1970 Vol 1, Page 628.

14.^  Library of Virginia, Land office records,Loyal Land Company

15.^  Library of Virginia, Gordon Aronhime Index Card #93 for Francis Whitney.

16.^  List of Tithables. - Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769-1800, p. 963

17.^  Library of Virginia, Gordon Aronhime Index Card #94, Francis Whitney.

18.^  Summers, Lewis Preston, Annals of Southwestern Virginia 1769-1800, Genealogical Pub. Co., 1970 Vol 2, Page 1006.

19.^  Ibid., p. 1027.

20.^  Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769-1800, p. 1041

21.^  Washington County Virginia, Personal Property Tax List: 1782-1800, Page 13, Colonel Edmondson's Precinct.

22.^  Whitney Whistler.


24.^  Washington County Virginia Taxables 1782-1787 p. 57

25.^  Washington County Virginia, Surveys & commissioners Certificates, 1781-1797, p. 218

26.^  Ibid.

27.^  Ibid.

28.^  Washington County VA Surveyors Records 1781-1797, Page 297.

29.^  Washington Co. VA Deed Book 1, p. 227.

30.^  Washington Co. VA: Deed Book 2: 1797-1802 p, 155.

31.^  South Carolina Archives, Series: S213190, Volume - 0027, Page - 00507 Item - 02 Date: 1791/12/08 Description: Whitney, Francis, Plat for 285 acres on Hunter's Branch, Orangeburg District

32.^  South Carolina Archives, Series: S213190, Volume 0031, Page 00517, Item 02,

33.^  Mills, Robert; Busby, B.; Tanner, Henry S.,Atlas Of The State Of South Carolina, Published by F. Lucas Jr. Baltimore (1825). Orangeburgh District Page. Available online: David Rumsey Map Collection.

34.^  South Carolina Archives, Series: S213190 Volume 0025, Page 00343, Item 02 Date: 1791/01/27 Description: Courtney, James, Jonathan Courtney, And Samuel Whitney, Plat for 553 acres on Dean Swamp, Orangeburg District

Copyright © 2007-2008, Jeanne Neilon, Tim Doyle, and the Whitney Research Group