A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF
REV. / LT. COL. WILLIAM MC CLANAHAN

   

 

 

A Biographical Sketch of

 

REV. / LT. COL. WILLIAM MC CLANAHAN

And the Culpeper Minutemen

by

 

JUDGE EDWARD F. BUTLER, SR.

 

Rev. / Lt. Colonel William McClanahan and his son Thomas, are both Patriot Ancestors of Judge Ed Butler.

"Reverend William McClanahan born in Westmoreland Colunty, Virginia, about 1738, married in 1758, Mary Marshall. He raised a company of Baptist Volunteers in Culpeper County during the Revolution and they were called 'the fighting Baptists'. Their family removed to Greenville District, South Carolina. He had a son Thomas McClanahan, who was a noted Indian fighter. His will was made May 15, 1802 and date of proof not given, but he died 1802". ( Historical Atlas of Westmoreland County, Virginia , David W. Eaton, The Dietz Press, Richmond, 1942, p. 38, FHL, Salt Lake City, microfilm #323777).

There are many deeds on record in Culpeper Co., VA; Bouborn Co., KY and Greenville Co., SC to and from William McClanahan.

 

 

RELIGIOUS INTOLERENCE IN VIRGINIA

 

During the 1760's most of the colonists in Virginia were of the Anglican faith, as they had been in England. Only the Anglican Church was legal in Virginia at that time. There was a rise of the Baptist Church in Fauquier Co., VA. Among the Baptist ministers was Rev. William McClanahan. He served as assistant to John Pickett at Carter's Run Baptist Church in Fauquier County. Episcopal ministers would go to Baptist services and take notes of the comments from the pulpit. These notes were used to obtain arrest warrants against the Baptist ministers. William Mc Clanahan was arrested on 21 August 1773 along with Nathaniel Saunders, pastor of Mountain Run in Orange Co. The charges were that they did "Teach & Preach Contrary to the Laws & usages of the Kingdom of Great Britain, raising Sedition & Stirring up Strife amongst his Majestie's Liege People" (The original warrant is located at the Baptist Historical Society). The author has a reproduction of that warrant framed in his study.

"This stalwart preacher, Rev. William McClanahan, had led a somewhat tumultuous career in his youth, becoming locally famous for his physical power and his fondness for the displaying of it: a sort of 'holy terror'; a sort of Daniel Morgan type to the youths who were 'seeking trouble' or spoiling for a fight. But he 'got religion', and soon it was being said that he had become a Baptist preacher for the fun he would have in quelling the disturbance at Baptist meetings.

"The fervent young sons of the Established Church often when 'out on a spree', indulging in the sport of breaking up such meetings and hazing the meek young preacher of that creed.

"Howbeit his first appearance in the sacred desk is said to have been peculiar. Three older preachers held a protracted meeting and touched up the Episcopalians until mischief became rife. Preacher number one had not proceeded far one day when he was preemptively commanded by a voice in the audience to 'drop that subject and take up something else'. Number two and number three successively defied the oppressors and shared the same fate. Then the athletic William

Mc Clanahan towered above the pulpit, divested of all cumbersome apparel, in fighting trim, and said, "Now suppose you try that on me'. Whereupon it was said silence and attention pervaded the audience while he pitched into the Established Church and severely scored the rowdies and "Imps of Satan", whom it permitted to represent its fairness and decency on such occasions". ( Kentucky Memories of Uncle Sam Williams , edited and commentary by Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes, Jr., privately published in Chattanooga, TN, 1978, p.17)

The outcome of the arrest is unclear. From 1770 to 1775 the Virginia House of Burgesses put aside petitions filed by Baptists and other "Protestant dissenters". The issue was minimized somewhat by the winds of war blowing throughout the Colonies. When the Third Virginia Convention met in Richmond in 1775 to recruit soldiers, they decided to seize upon the religious fervor. The Baptists requested that they be allowed "free Liberty to preach to the troops at convenient Times without molestation or abuse". The Convention resolved that military officers "permit dissenting clergymen to celebrate divine worship, and to preach to the soldiers, or exhort from time to time"

This newfound tolerance led to the formation of Revolutionary companies of soldiers based upon their faith. In Culpeper County, Capt. William Mc Clanahan, raised one of the eight companies of Culpeper Minutemen. In 1844 Capt. Philip Slaughter recalled that "at first he (McClanahan) regularly preached to his men ( Culpeper, A Virginia County's History through 1920 , E.M. Scheel, Culpeper Hist. Soc., 1982, p.51).

Another writer claimed that the presence of William Mc Clanahan stopped the violence: "At their meetings the mob was pretty quiet, chiefly owing to the presence of Mr. Mc ______, who is a robust man and has been a mighty buffer." ( Kentucky Memoirs, Id at p. 18, citing Materials Towards a History of the Baptists in the Province of Virginia , by Morgan Edwards, from the Furman Manuscript).

In 1780, William Mc Clanahan supplied 5 bushels of wheat to the Continental Army, during the Revolutionary War ( Virginia Publick Claims, Culpeper County , compiled by Janice L. Abercrombie and Richard Slatten, Iberian Press, Athens, Ga., p. 29). When the Culpeper Co., VA Court met on 7 Nov 1780 to consider the claims of citizens who had provided supplies to the army, William McClanahan was paid 72 Pounds for rye supplied to the army and 234 Pounds and 12 Shillings for wheat ( id at p. 62). Another certificate for payment in the amount of 122 Pounds was given for rye provided after 23 Nov 1780 (id at p. 63). In 1781 he supplied the army with 250 pounds of beef ( id at p. 2). In July 1781 he turned over 300 additional pounds of beef for the troops ( id at p. 60).

 

 

THE CULPEPER MINUTE MEN

 

The largest battalion of Minute Men was composed of men from the Culpeper District, which included the Counties of Culpeper, Orange and Fauquier. Culpeper raised five companies, including that of William "Mc Clenachan" ( An 18th Century Perspective: Culpeper County , compiled by M.S. Jones, Culpeper Hist. Soc[1976], p. 15).

By Sept 1775 some 300 Minute Men had already been raised, including William Mc Clanahan's Company. Maj. Thomas Marshall (who later was promoted to Colonel), William's brother in law was third in command of the Battalion. "The whole regiment appeared according to orders in hunting shirts made of strong, brown, linen, dyed the color of the leaves of the trees, and on the breast of each hunting shirt was worked in large white letters the words `Liberty or Death!' and all that could procure for love or money bucks' tails in the hats. Each man had a leather belt around his shoulders, with a tomahawk and scalping knife" ( Id a p. 55).

In September, 1775, Col. Patrick Henry ordered the Minute Men to Williamsburg, a march of about 150 miles. One Minute Man observed the reaction of the people of Williamsburg to these new guardians:

Many people hearing we were from the backwoods . . . and seeing our dress, were as much afraid of us for a few days as if we had been indians (sic); but finding that we were ordeerly (sic) and attentive in guarding the city, they treated us with great respect. We took great pride in demeaning ourselves as patriots and gentlemen ( An 18th Century Perspective, Id at p. 16).
The flag they used is well known. In the center is a coiled snake ready to strike. Beneath the snake are the words: "Don't tread on me!" Along each side were the immortal words of Colonel Patrick Henry, the Commander in Chief of Virginia's provisional army: "Liberty or Death". The top of the flag contained the words: "The Culpeper Minute Men" ( Ibid ). The author has a reproduction of that flag in his study.

The Minute Men were ill equipped. Fewer than half had rifles. Those who were armed carried "fowling-pieces and squirrel-guns". Nevertheless, they succeeded in repulsing the British invasion of Norfolk on New Year's Day 1776. Because of a shortage of arms the Minute Men were required to give up their weapons to the Continental Army. They were all discharged by Spring ( Id at p. 57).

Immediately after the peace treaty was signed in Paris in 1783, William McClanahan was one of the first thirty justices to swear allegiance to the United States ( Id at pp. 62-63).

The Commonwealth of Virginia awarded a Treasury Warrant for 500 acres of land in the Kentucky Territory to William McClanahan. The patent was dated 17 May 1795. This transaction is memorialized in two additional deeds among family members. William conveyed 200 acres of that land on the East side of Cedar Creek in County of Nelson to Thomas McClanahan on 9 Sept. 1799. Thomas and his wife Nancy (nee Green) sold this 200 acres to Matthew Rogers of Nelson Co., KY for 58 Pounds on 11 Nov 1800 ( Tyler's Quarterly Magazine, Vol, XIII , p 278).

 

 

A THUMBNAIL SKETCH OF LT. COL. WILLIAM MC CLANAHAN

 

"William Mc Clanahan was one of the more colorful men in the eight companies of eighty-four men each, formed in Culpeper for the Continental service. A Baptist minister as well as soldier, Capt. McClanahan raised one of these companies and served as Captain. His recruits were principally from his own denomination, and he preached to his men between other duties.

"Woodford B. Hackley, a native of Jeffersonton, Culpeper County, and a distinguished historian, states that Capt. McClanahan was the `only captain, to my certain knowledge, definitely documented' who participated in the Williamsburg - Great Bridge campaign of 1775. He describes him as a `powerful man physically, a giant of a fellow'.

"According to Dr. Hackley, much of the time during the Revolution a William Mc Clanahan served as a local justice (or magistrate) in the Little Fork area. He presumes this was the William McClanahan who was a Culpeper Minute Men Captain. Capt. McClanahan lived on Big Indian Run in the Little Fork.

"McClanahan, the first Baptist preacher in the lower counties of the Northern Neck (Virginia) prior to 1770, was one of the boldest and most enterprising of the early Protestant dissenters of Virginia. One of the 37 constituent members of Carter's Run Baptist Church, Fauquier County, he halted a mob that was engaged in the destruction of that church in 1770 while the church was unoccupied. In 1773, a warrant was issued for the arrest of McClanahan and Nathaniel Saunders, who, as Protestant dissenters, were charged with teaching and preaching `contrary to the laws and usages of the King of Great Britain, raising sedition and stirring up strife among His Majestie's liege people" ( An 18th Century Perspective, Id at p. 63; an editorial note signed by Mary Stevens Jones, citing the following sources: Green's Notes on Culpeper and St. Mark's Parish ; Dr. Hackley's letter; Semple's History of the Rise and Progress of Baptists in Virginia ; Ryland's The Baptists of Virginia ; Moore & Lumpkin's Meaningful Moments in Virginia Baptist Life ).

On 21 Jan 1784 William McClanahan of Greenville Co., SC had surveyed 200 acres of land in Kentucky on the Cedar Creek watercourse ( The Genealogy and History of Thomas and Dorthy Mooney Mc Clanahan, Early Virginia Immigrants From Ireland , compiled by M.L. McClanahan, p. 58).

On 3 Sep 1794 William McClanahan of Greenville Co., SC deeded land to Thomas McClanahan, his son, of Bourbon Co., KY for 26 Pounds. The land was bounded by land owned by Thomas McClanahan on the north, Peter Moore on the west, and John Green on the right ( Bourbon Co., KY Deed Book C , p. 108; reproduced in Tyler's Quarterly Mag., Vol. XIII , pp. 283-284).

The following petition of October 27, 1790, is of interest since it lists the citizenry of Bourbon County, Kentucky soon after the founding of the new county seat:

To the Honourable and general Assembly at the Town of Richmond in the State of

Virginia;

The petition of Sundry of the Inhabitants of the County of Bourbon Humbly prays

your Honours to Grant your Petitioners and Inspection for Tobacco on Stoner at the

Town of Hopewell and your Petitioners in are in Duty your Humble Servts."

signed Thos. McClanahan and others.


The earliest record of the land on which Paris, Kentucky, stands was uncovered in an old suit over a military grant to one Walter Stewart for service as a sergeant in his Majesty's 44th Regiment of foot and agreeable to the Royal Proclamation of 1763, for 200 acres in Fincastle (later Bourbon) County. Col. John Floyd, who was the principal surveyor of the Transylvania Company and delegate to the Assembly that met at Boonsborough May 24, 1775, to make laws for the infant colony, acting as deputy surveyor to William Preston of Fincastle, surveyed this grant for Stewart in 1776. He made his first location immediately in front of what is now the entrance to the old Duncan Home (Burr House) on a tree in the then wilderness. Overlapping land was preempted by John Reed of Maryland, James Galloway, and Samuel Lyon, who claimed as heir of Daniel Lyon.

Lawrence Protzman (also spelled Sprotzman, Prutzman, etc.) bought a part of Reed's preemption and laid it off into town lots, calling the town Hopewell. In accordance with a request of Protzman the Virginia Assembly passed the following Act October, 1789:

"Be it enacted, That two hundred and fifty acres of land, at the Court House in Bourbon county, as are laid off into town lots and streets by Lawrence Protzman, the proprietor thereof, shall be established a town by the name of Hopewell, and that Notley Conn, Charles Smith Jr., John Edwards, James Garrard, Edward Waller, Thomas West, James Lanier, James Littell and James Duncan, gentlemen, are hereby constituted trustees thereof."

This was three years before Kentucky became a state and the great county of Bourbon embraced within her vast boundary thirty-three later Kentucky counties. Hence the little town of Hopewell (changed to Paris in 1790) was the county seat of the fifth county formed in the western territory.

 

 

PETITION FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF

HOPEWELL BY CITIZENS OF BOURBON

Signed September 2, 1789

 

To the Honorable the Virginia Assembly:

 

The petition of the Inhabitants of Bourbon County Sbeweth that the Land whereon our present Courthouse now stands to the amount of two hundred and fifty acres is laid off in Lotts by the Proprietor, for the purpose of settling a Town which Lotts are principly bought up by those who are now living on and improving them and have erected a number of very convenient buildings-on sd Lotts we your petitioners conceiving it really necessary that sd Town be established by Law pray your Honorable body that a Law pass for the establishment of a Town agreeable to the manner the Lotts are now laid off and that the Trustees be appointed for the purpose of superintening and Regulating of the Building of said Town and in duty Bound we pray-" ( PETITION NO. 2277, ARCHIVE DEPT., VIRGINIA STATE LIBRARY , pp. 18-20, Copied From Original Record by Mrs. W. H. Whitley).

 

 

THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF WILLIAM Mc CLANAHAN:

 

"The last will & testament of Wm Mc Clanahan I William Mc Clanahan of the State of South Carolina and district of Greenville, do constitute & establish this my last will & testament. Item it is my will and desire that my beloved wife Mary Mc Clanahan shall occupy possess and enjoy the whole of the estate with which I am possessed during her life consisting of all the lands I own in the aforesaid district with all my negroes except, one fellow named Joseph, with all my stock of every kind plantation utensils household and kitchen furniture, with all the money I have in hand and all that is due to me except one hundred dollars Item I give and bequeth the afresaid one hundred dollars to my son Thomas Mc Clanahan with the above excepted negro Joseph as also all lands I have any right to or claim in the western country or the State of Kentucky to him and his heirs forever which said negro and one hundred dollars or the only parts of my estate which shall be subjected to a division before the death of my wife, it is my wish and desire that she shall have full power and her option and discretion to make such distributions of the money which may arise from the collection of my debts and the profits of my estate as she may deem advisable and expedient for the relief and convenience of my daughters, provided nevertheless that the donations she may make them respectively shall not exceed the dividend or rateable part to which they may be entitled on an equal division of the same Item it is also my wish and desire that my well beloved wife shall be at full liberty agreeable to her judgment to sell and dispose of any part of my stock whatsoever and to appropriate the money arising from the sale thereof in the manner before specified. Item it is my will and desire that immediately after the death of my wife the remaining part of my estate shall be divided in the following manner, viz, Item I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Mc Clanahan one negro boy named Bartlet but in case my said son should die before the execution of this will my will is that his son Green Mc Clanahan shall enjoy and possess the said Negro Bartlett for ever. Item I give and bequeath to my son John Mc Clanahan that tract of land on which I now live also the tract which I purchased of John Robinson also four negroes namely Augustino, Patty, Rachel and George but should my said son John die before his mother my will and desire is that the said land and negroes shall descend to his child or children to be equally divided amongst them which they and their heirs shall inherit forever.

Item I give and bequeath to my grandson Marshall Mc Clanahan on negro girl named Betty with her increase to him and his heirs forever. Item it is my will and desire that all the rest of my estate or the remaining part thereof shall be divided in the following manner viz, that my executors shall expose the same to public auction allowing twelve months credit and on a collection of the money arising from the sale thereof together with such sum as may be left remaining in her hands with what may be due my estate I request my executors to divide among my daughters, that is to say Nancy, Basey, Molley Triplett, Alsey Abbot and Suckey Robinson including two of my grandchildren, viz, Mc Clanahan Statlard and Hannah Carter who are to receive one equal share with my said daughters and that share to be equally divided between the said two grandchildren but in case either of them should die before the execution of this will the surviving one to enjoy and posses the whole forever.

Item it is my desire that this my last will & testament be recorded, but it is not my wish that any inventory of my estate be taken, the request that my before mentioned son John Mc Clanahan and my fried Lemuel James Alston and John Robinson will tend to, and see that is faithfully executed according to the tenor thereof and lastly I do disavow and revoke all wills heretofore made by me. In witness of which I do hereunto set my hand and affix my seal this fifteenth day of May 1802.

Wm Mc Clanahan (Seal)

Test

John Young, Junr

John W Hansell

William Hansell" (Recorded in Greenville Co., S.C. Will Book A . p. 176, Apt 9, file 634; see

also Virginia Historical Magazine, Vol. 41 , pp. 353-355).

Although there is some confusion about the McClanahans, we know that our Thomas, who served in the Revolutionary War and later as an Indian fighter under General "Mad" Anthony Wayne, is the son of this William ( Historical Atlas of Westmoreland Co., VA, id at p. 38).

The Daughters of the American Revolution has accepted This William McClanahan as a patriot ancestor ( DAR #15338, DAR Patriot Index, Vol. 55 , p. 112). The SAR has accepted him as a Patriot for both President General Larry D. McClanahan and the author.

He was apparently promoted to LT. Col. during the Revolutionary War, as he was buried with military honors as a Lt. Colonel ( Kentucky Memories of Uncle Sam Williams (1938), p. 17, cited in M.L. Mc Clanahan, id at p. 112).

 

 

     

     
     

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