I always joked that I was descended from Appalachian aristocracy. My mother is a Whitaker from Tazewell County, Virginia, the great-granddaughter of James Whitaker, Jr. He came from Smyth County in 1850 to purchase land that straddles Tazewell and McDowell County, West Virginia. It came to be known as Whitaker Ridge. The photo at the top is taken on Whitaker Ridge looking into McDowell County. It was wilderness when they settled, and it sill is. The family didn’t make their mark upon the land as much as the land made a mark upon them. This area has an interesting history involving the making of moonshine and family feuds, and the Whitakers gained a colorful reputation for being an ornery bunch. Life on the Ridge was hard. It took a great deal of effort to make a living, so they had to be tough and determined.
My father’s people, the Tates were from Russell County, Scotch Irish immigrants who moved into in Pennsylvania, slowly migrated down the Shenandoah Valley, and settled in Southwestern Virginia between the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars. Col. John Tate and his brother Robert built log cabins, block forts, one was even named Fort Tate, were active in local government, and served in the militia. There have been Tate ancestors and their descendants who have served in the military from Lord Dunmore’s War to today. My father was a career Marine, serving in World War II and the Korean War. Semper Fi!
I’m the one in the family who collects things – old photos, books, antiques, and more stuff than I even know I have. My intentions have been to share what I have gathered on family history, but it seems like the “hurrieder I go, the behinder I get” to use an old Amish expression. I figure if I can add things in short amounts, it will total up.
- Whitaker, Christian, Pack, Beavers, Petts (Tazewell County, VA and McDowell County, WV)
- Chambers, Tate, Davenport, Owens, Payne (Washington and Russell Counties, VA)
- Johnson, Bryant (Buckingham County, VA)
- Hamman/Hammond (Botetourt and Tazewell Counties, VA)
My Husband’s Families
- Duke (Clarke and Wilcox Counties, AL).
- Russell (York, Co. ME)
- Cluverius, Seawell (Gloucester, King William and King & Queen Counties, VA)
- Walker, Temple, Hill, Fleet (King & Queen Co. VA)
- Hurst, Spiller, Hudnall (Northumberland Co. VA)