Wood County, West Virginia Genealogy
- 1 County Courthouse
- 2 History
- 3 Places / Localities
- 4 Resources
- 5 Societies and Libraries
- 6 Web Sites
- 7 References
Places / Localities
“Area Families Have Interest in Saga of John Jones & His Sister Polly”
by Helen E White of the Parkersburg (Wood County, WV) News Staff, December 1964
The Thornes, the McCutcheons, Bumgarners, Cheuvronts, Roberts, McClungs, the Ashleys, Browns, and many other old families in Wood, Wirt and adjoining counties all have a common ancestor and interest in the little known saga of John Jones and his sister Polly.
The story begins on a June evening on Dunkard Creek in Monongalia County in the year 1777 when Polly was 13 and John 11.
On this fresh, rain-washed evening there was excitement in the cabin of Jacob Jones as he, accompanied by his two children, John and Polly, were preparing to go and spend the night at the cabin of Jacob Farmer, about two miles up the creek.
By staying the night with the Farmers, they would be up early the next morning to help their neighbor with his corn hoeing, which helpful customs being common among pioneer families.
At dusk, the trio started out, Jones carrying his flintlock, Polly skipping along in her nut-brown linsey-woolsey and John bringing up the rear clad in homespun jeans. The children carried three hoes against the morrow’s task.
About a mile up the creek, so the story has been handed down in the families, they were joined by Alexander Clegg, Nathan Worley and John Marsh who were also on their way to the Farmer’s cabin.
Sometime in the small, silent hours between midnight and dawn, the whinnying of a horse awoke the sleeping occupants of the cabin who discovered they were surrounded by a large band of hostile Inidans. The loopholes of the cabin were quickly manned and the long wait began for morning and the inevitable attack. At the first light of dawn, the Indians opened fire on the isolated dwelling eventually killing Worley and Farmer and leaving the defense to Marsh, Jones, Clegg, Mrs. Farmer and the children.
Against such odds, the outcome was certain. When the Indians finally streamed shrieking into the cabin, Jones and Marsh managed to make their escape. From their concealment they watched the victorious Indians with John and Polly Jones, and Susie Farmer as captives, start out on the long trek back to the Wyandotte settlement near what is now Sandusky, Ohio. Jones and Marsh set out to follow the savages and free the captive children, but about the second day, the Indians’ trail seemed made of air and the men were finally forced to abandon the pursuit and turn back.
Polly, so the old story goes, was quick, unafraid and keen enough to obey the Indians orders while John, although he patterned his behavior much after his sisters, fretted constantly and spent much time in making plans to escape. But Susie Farmer, two years older than Polly, spent her entire time crying. So, when the Ohio River was reached, Susie was tomahawked and scalped before the eyes of the Jones children. A great celebration was held when the two young white children were led captive into the Indian village. They were made to run the gauntlet several times, and their courage must have impressed the braves, as the two children were adopted into Wyandotte families.
Five years later, John managed to escape and reach Detroit where he was adopted by a Dr. Harvey who educated him to be a physician. Six years after his escape, on his way to England to finish his education, he returned to his old home for a visit. Eventually Dr. John Jones married and settled west of Grafton. His daughter Mary, married Thomas Thorne from near Fairmont, and the young couple came to Palestine in Wirt County to establish their home.
Mary and Thomas Thorne were the parents of 12 children and their descendants are numerous in and around this area; one of whom, a great grandson, Benjamin Franklin Thorne, who died in 1930 was said to be the last Confederate soldier in Wood County.
Polly Jones adjusted to her life among the Indians and lived with them until her rescue in 1787. She was taken to Detroit and adopted by the family of General McCoombs, an English army officer. In 1790, she married Peter Melott, a Frenchman, and they made their home in Kingsville, Ontario.
Polly made but one trip back to her childhood home in 1817. Appearing at the cabin of her parents one spring evening like a ghost from the past, she stayed several months and then returned to Kingsville.
However, the combined descendants of John and Polly Jones hold a large annual family reunion for many years. When Tilden Thorne, the last “president” of the family passed away, the yearly reunions were discontinued, but there are still many of the older ones who remember hearing the story of brown-eyed Polly and her younger brother, John.
- "A Guide to the Counties of Virginia: Wood County," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1976):297-300. Available at FHL; digital version at New England Ancestors ($).
At first glance, researchers might conclude that Virginia tax lists contain very little family history data, though one soon learns that valuable genealogical conclusions can be drawn from these records, nicknamed "annual censuses," such as: relationships, approximate years of birth, socio-economic status, identification of neighbors, the ability to distinguish between persons of the same name, evidence of land inheritance, years of migration, and years of death.
Virginia began enumerating residents' payments of personal property and land taxes in 1782. These two types of taxation were recorded in separate registers. Personal property tax lists include more names than land tax lists, because they caught more of the population. The Family History Library has an excellent microfilm collection of personal property tax lists from 1782 (or the year the county was organized) well into the late nineteenth century for most counties, but only scattered land tax lists. Microfilm collections at The Library of Virginia include land tax lists for all counties and independent cities for the years 1782 through 1978, as well as personal property tax lists for the years 1782 through 1930 (and every fifth year thereafter). Taxes were not collected in 1808.
Some tax records are available online or in print, though published abstracts often omit useful details found only in the original sources. Statewide indexes can help genealogists identify specific counties where surnames occurred in the past, providing starting points for research.
- Ward, Roger D. 1815 Directory of Virginia Landowners (and Gazetteer). 6 vols. Athens, Georgia: Iberian Pub. Co., 1997-2000. Available at FHL. [The source for this publication is the 1815 land tax. Wood County is included in Vol. 6.]
Societies and Libraries
- The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
- "Using Personal Property Tax Records in the Archives at the Library of Virginia," Library of Virginia, http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/rn3_persprop.htm.
- "Using Land Tax Records in the Archives at the Library of Virginia," Library of Virginia, http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/rn1_landtax.pdf.