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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.

My Families:

  • 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)
My family tree is full of nuts.

My family tree is full of nuts.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2009 8:19 am

    I enjoy this site, it is worth me coming back

  2. Janice Cigler permalink
    August 26, 2010 3:39 pm

    I am researching Cluverius of Gloucester County, VA — Micham B., Sallie, children Charles, William, Fannie C. and particularly Rebecca. Found them in 1860 and 1870 census. Believe M. B. through his son, William, is connected to the Yorktown, VA Cluverius branch and through daughter,Fannie C., to the Eastern Shore, VA branch. Have you any information on the M. B. Cluverius line and how it connects to yours or goes forward to the present? Your Cluverius history is most interesting.

    • August 27, 2010 3:28 am

      Hi, Janice,
      My husband’s Cluverius family do come from Gloucester Co., although they moved to King William and ultimately to King and Queen Co. VA, settling at Little Plymouth. All the VA Cluverius HAVE to be related, but trying to sort out the various branches is difficult. It is harder for our side because of being related to Thomas Judson Cluverius. His trial and subsequent hanging for the murder of his cousin Lillian Madison, was the Scott Peterson and OJ Simpson trial of that era. As a result, the Cluverius relatives distanced themselves from the our side of the family, and claimed no relation.

      I have run across M. B.’s name but have no information on him as I’ve trying to get our Cluverius line beyond Beverly William Cluverius, the father of the infamous Thomas and William Beverly Cluverius, my husband’s great grandfather. I plan to do a posting on my blog about how deep of secret it was in the family about Uncle Tom. If I don’t get around to it in a several months please remind me. In the meantime, if I run across any info on M.B. I will send it along.


      • Scott Segerstrom permalink
        June 3, 2019 10:54 pm

        I am sorry I am just finding this comment now via a google search; Micham Cluverius is my great-great-grandfather and Fannie Cluverius Melson was my great-grandmother; I was fortunate to know her before she passed away in my nineties. I have that family line fairly well sketched out from Fannie on down; but likewise, I do not know much about Micham yet…

  3. Andrea Oevering permalink
    January 28, 2013 12:55 am

    I’m married to a Moody cousin from Minnesota. Enjoyed your site. I do not believe we have any direct appalachian ancestors…wish we did! I enjoy reading everything you typed on this site!

    Davis Moody and Phebe Drake

    • January 28, 2013 2:44 am

      We can always decide to adopt each other. On the other hand, if go back far enough, we will find we are related somewhere back in the mists of time. Thank you for for your kind comments about the blog.
      Cheryl Duke

  4. Berrylynn Freeby permalink
    June 3, 2013 2:24 am

    I enjoyed your website, thank you for including my family. I keep researching and still have a few “brick walls” left. Berrylynn Morgan Freeby

    • June 3, 2013 5:09 am

      Berrylyn, bless your for your kind comments. The website is a labor of love, and I should post on the blog more often. I have to wait for inspiration to strike, and then I have to remember what I was inspired about. The trials of an aging brain!

      • Deborah Jarrett permalink
        June 3, 2013 2:09 pm

        Virginia you sound alot like me, I’ve been researching my family lines for about 6 months now and trying to keep the information straight is sometimes a chore….I’ve written about my Mitchell/Renegar line – and you replied that you can’t help…do you have any information about the Moses Harvel/Harvell family of Surry/Davie/Yadkin Counties? I descend through the Tyre/William Harvel line, with Sarah (Sallie) Elizabeth Harvel/Sapp being my paternal grandmother…at one time the Harvel family owned alot of land, it has trickled down to nothing to the best of my knowledge. I would love to have an acre of their land if possible, the land they hunted/planted/lived on…Any information is appreciated about this family. Thanks, and may God Bless!

  5. karen blain permalink
    October 5, 2015 12:06 am

    looking for the bourcheire family of va. Karen at 7578508694. thanks.

  6. Daniel Whitaker permalink
    February 18, 2016 4:21 am

    Hi Virginia Duchess, I am researching my Whitaker line from Lincoln County, Tennessee. Is there a way to get in touch with you? I am currently in an attempt to see if I am “barking up the wrong tree.”

  7. January 29, 2017 5:51 pm

    Emeline and Chamber Elswick were my great-great-grandparents. Mary (Mollie) Elswick was my great-grandmother, Effie Osborne was my grandmother. Lily Jane (Fox) Christian was my mother. Small World!

  8. Dan Ward permalink
    November 20, 2017 7:04 am

    Cheryl – I do this genealogical stuff too – but no expert – BUT have discovered a cousin in Texas – via GEDMatch – Lisa K. Bailey – and I matched her DNA kit with mine – and you are the 4th closest mutual match ! So cousin, trying to figure how we are related ? Dan Ward – . My Ward family tree is public on . Be glad to help and share what I have. Dan.

    • November 21, 2017 5:02 am

      Dan, I’m replying to you by private message. Let’s see where our Ward connection intersects with yours.

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