John Elder, Booths Creek, Taylor Co., WV

John Elder was born April 13, 1760, possibly in Ireland (though in the 1850 census he gives his birthplace as Virginia), died April 27, 1857, at Booths Creek, Taylor Co., WV. Family tradition says he was the son of William Elder, who had 12 sons. No mention is made of any daughters. Family tradition also states that two of the brothers, John and Joseph, crossed the Atlantic. (It is estimated the crossing was made before 1795.) During the voyage John met Margaret McHenry and they were married shortly after landing in New York. There is no further information on Joseph.

It is believed that John and Margaret first lived in New York; however, prior to 1801 they moved to Harrison County (West) Virginia. February 16, 1801, John Elder bought 132 acres on Booths Creek, in what is now Taylor County. Subsequent purchases increased his holdings in the area to 463 acres. At that time Harrison County consisted of all of current Doddridge, Harrison, Lewis, and Ritchie Counties; also parts of Barbour, Braxton, Calhoun, Gilmer, Pleasants, Taylor, Upshur, Webster, Wirt, and Wood Counties.
The 1810 census of Harrison County lists for John Elder one male to 10 years, one male 10 to 16 years, one male 45 and above; two females to 10 years, two females 10 to 16, one female 45 and above. This would seem to agree with the known children: Joseph 14, William K. 4, Mary 16, Margaret 12, Elizabeth 9, and Sarah 1. They were not found in the 1820 census.

Margaret died before or during 1817. The marriage records of Harrison County (Book 3, Page 180) show a duplicate entry of marriage on either December 31, 1817, or January 1, 1818, between John Elder and Agnes(s) Riley (also appears in various records as Agnes Ryley, Agnes Baley). Agnes was born November 18, 1780, in Virginia.

The following children are known to have been born to John and Margaret, or his second wife, Agnes:

Mary (Polly) Elder, born abt 1794
Joseph Elder, born 31 Jul 1796
Margaret Elder, born 13 May 1798
Elizabeth Elder, born abt 1801
William Kedrick Elder, born 1 Mar 1806
Sarah Elder, born abt 1809
Samuel Elder, born abt 1818
Catherine (Katharine) Elder, born abt 1820
John R. Elder, Jr., born about 1824

The 7 Aug 1850 Census of Taylor County shows:

  • John Elder 91 VA
  • Agnes 70 VA
  • Joseph 21 VA
  • Martin 14 VA

Martin is probably the "couloror boy" mentioned in John Elder's will. Joseph was likely the oldest son of William K. Elder.

The last will and testament of John Elder is recorded in Will Book 1, page 47 in the Taylor County Court House and dated February the 27th, 1850. He was 90 years old at the time, and lived seven more years. The following was copied from the original document:

I John Elder citizen resident of Booths Creek Taylor County Virginia being aged and infirm in Ninetyeth yeare but of sound mind having a desire to settle my wordly affairs while capascitated to do so do desire that after me deceas all my just debts and funeral Expenses be paid and the residue of all my personal property be divided amongst Joseph Elder, William Elder, John Elder Jr, Margaret Riley, Elizabeth Fowler, Sarah Willis, Katharine Riffee. Elizabeth Elder, Loid Elder, Nathaniel Elder, Mary A. Elder, Martha V. Elder, heirs of Samuel Elder deceased; Lavina Mcelfresh, Sarah Vincent in the Follwing manner: Joseph Elder, William Elder John Elder Jr, Margaret Riley, Elizabeth Fowler, Sarah Willis, Katharine Riffee share and share alike; and Elizabeth Elder, Loid Elder, Nathaniele Elder, Mary A. Elder, Martha V. Elder, heirs of Samuel Elder decesased to have the said Samuel Elders share, and Lavina Mcelfresh and Sarah Vincent each a half share with the others.

2nd that at the death of myself and wife the couloror boy bound to me by the name of Martin be the property of John Elder Jr until he arrives at the age of 21 years at which time he is free by birth.

4thly and that Agnes Elder my wife to have one third of all my personal property.

5thly and lastly I do here by constitute and appoint my friend Solomon Ryan executor of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all others or former wills by me heretofore made signed sealed in the presense of
Solomon Ryan
Elizabeth X Elder John X Elder
John Elder, Jr.

Virginia, At a County Court held for the County of Taylor on the 25th day of May 1857.
(NOTE: There was no 3rd provision given, evidently an oversight in drafting the will. Lavina Mcelfresh and Sarah Vincent, each receiving a half share, were daughters of Mary Polly and Sanford Singleton; this would have been Mary's share. She was not mentioned in John Elder's will dated 1850 as she was deceased by that time.)

John Elder died April 27, 1857, at Booths Creek, Taylor County, age 97 years, 14 days. He is buried in the Middleville Cemetery, near Bridgeport, WV. The headstone appears to be marble; it is white and the inscription is very legible. It reads, "John Elder Died April 27, 1857. Aged 97 Yrs. & 14 Days." Margaret died about 1817 while they were living in Harrison County. She is probably buried in the Middleville Cemetery, but there is no record.

There is no record available for the time or place of death of Agnes Riley Elder. She was living at Booths Creek, Taylor County, at the time of John's will Feb. 27, 1850, and would have been about 77 years old. She is cited in the land records of the same year. Agnes was living with her son John at the 1870 Taylor Co. Census. She was 90 years old. She was not listed in the 1880 census; although she is probably buried in the Middleville Cemetery, there is no marker to be found.

—Edgar B. Elder
Vol. 1 #4 EFN

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