Notes for a presentation at the
Cabell Foundation Annual Meeting in
Williamsburg in October 2000
By Thomas Turpin Bannister
Dept of Biology, Univ of Rochester,
Rochester, NY 14627
Recorded in Albemarle Co on 13 & 14 Aug 1751, were the postings of L500
bonds to secure Tho Turpin my 4 ggfather, Wm Cab(b)ell your kinsman, and Tho
Jefferson (grandfather of the President) as assistant surveyors under
Albemarle Co Surveyor Joshua Fry. The Albemarle Surveyors Book 1 (1744-1755)
is chock full of plats surveyed & drawn by your forebear and mine. Your family
& mine are closely related by common enterprize if not by blood.
In "Surveyors and Statesmen" Sarah Hughes lists...
Surveyors ... Assistant Surveyors as..
Joshua Fry 1744-1754 Tho Turpin 1745-1756
Peter Jefferson 1757 Wm Cabell sr 1746-1754
Jno Staples 1760-62 Tho Jefferson 1750-51
Jno Dawson -1762 Wm Cabell jr1753-1761
Nicholas Lewis 1765-1773 Jno Staples 1755-1760
Anderson Bryan 1774-1782 Jno Smith jr 1755-1756
Danl Smith 1767-1773
Wm Cabell jr 1761-1777 Jas Higginbotham1765-1777
MAPS OF CABELL PATENTS & GRANTS (1738-1805)
Immigrant Dr Wm Cabbell (1700-1774) arrived in Va in 1723. He married Eliz
Burk who, between 1727 and 1750, bore a dau Mary and 4 sons Wm 2, Jos, Jno,
and Nicholas. For a number of years, Dr Wm resided near Dover Ck in Goochland
Co. It was in Goochland he first received patent for 1200a on the W branch of
Lickinghole Ck (alias Treasury Run).
Dr Wm became interested early in acquisition of then empty lands along the
James in what are now Nelson, Amherst, and Buckingham Cos. There, in the years
1738-1814, he and his 4 sons amassed large acreages by some 70 patents or
My purpose today is to report to you what I have learned about the
locations of these 70-odd Cabell tracts, as well as a number of patents
received by Cabell kin, namely, Wm Mayo (cousin of Dr Wm), son-in-law Wm
Horseley, by several Burks (Samuel, Richard, Jno Peartree, & Geo), and by Dr
Wm's associate or competitor Wm Megginson.
73 patents or grants were issued, from 1738 to 1814, to Dr Wm & his 4
sons. One of these was the 1200a in Goochland, and a second was for land on
the west side of Carters Mt in Albemarle. The 71 remaining were for tracts in
modern counties of Amherst, Nelson, and Buckingham. (There were also 7 patents
or grants of lands recorded as lying in Jefferson, Montgomery, Grayson,
Monroe, and Greenbrier Cos of WVa or Ky.)
Of the 71 grants, three were for areas of 1.5 acres or less, two small
islands and a 1.5 acre lot issued to Jos and other churchwardens; no attention
has been given to these. The remaining 68 patent & grant records have all been
read & plotted. Of the 68, the boundary lines of 52 have been mapped with some
precision. And 10 surveys more, which reference identifiable streams, can be
allotted to general vicinities. At present, 6 surveys only continue to defy
efforts to locate.
Of the 68 Cabell records read & plotted, about 3/4 were located in
southern Nelson and northwestern Buckingham, an area I call the "Cabell
Homeland". Several slides will now define the "Homeland" in terms of county
boundaries, watercourses, roads, and topography.
(1) AREA defines the Homeland in terms of longitude and latitude. From the
superimposed 2-mile grid, you see that the Homeland is about 20 miles east-
west by 15 miles north-south. The area contained is about 200,000 acres.
(2) COUNTY show the portions of Albemarle, Nelson, Amherst, Appomattox &
Buckingham Cos lying in the Homeland. Superimposed are rivers, creeks, and
branches (in blue), main roads (red), and 2ndary roads in brown.
(3) HYDNMS gives names of watercourses as found in the old surveys.
(4) TERRAIN show the massif of Pruett's & Spears (alias Slate River) Mts
in Buckingham, the low Buffalo Ridge and its continuation as Horse Mt, and the
chain of Findlay-Turner-Piney-PeaVine Mts further north. Again watercourses &
roads are superimposed.
(5) Finally, COVER show in orange all the area within the Homeland for
which surveys have been read and mapped. The boundary lines of the surveys are
here shown in black. Areas in white are those where surveys have not yet been
searched for, or have been searched for but not yet found, or are unresolved
voids between adjacent surveys. You can see that patent or grant surveys have
been found & located covering roughly 3/4 of the Homeland.
PROGRESSIVE OCCUPATION OF THE HOMELAND BY CABELLS AND OTHERS
A series of 9 slides show the gradual occupation of the Homeland upto
738. The slide shows the areas for which patents were issued through 1738.
The earliest patents were to Allen Howard at the mouth of Rockfish River
in 1730 & 1735, to Jno Bolling in 1733, and to Saml Spencer in 1733.
These and all other non-Cabell patents to follow are tinted pale green.
The first of the Cabell patents was that of Wm 1, 4800 acres, a long
"snake" on both sides of the Fluvanna. Here & subsequently, all Wm 1
tracts are painted yellow.
739. Wm Cabbell 1 received 6 additional patents extending the "yellow snake"
further up the James River. Cousin Wm Mayo received land on James River
between Mayos & Swann Cks; this and tracts of other Cabell kin are
746. In the years 1740-46, Wm Cabbell 1 received 2 patents up Tye River. But
he conveyed 4 tracts to others. Two of Wm 1's tracts were conveyed to Wm
Allen who repatented them in 1745; reflecting the change, the yellow of
Wm 1 is replaced by pale green of a non-Cabell. And two tracts were sold
to Wm Megginson who also repatented them in 1745 ( yellow changes to the
grey the color of Cabell kin and associates).
Wm Mayo enlarged his holding on Mayo & Swann Cks, and three Burks rec'd
patents - Samuel on S s James, Richard at Great Bent, & John Peachtree
on Tye Riv.
At the W margin of the Homeland, appear small portions of 2 very large
patents each about 25,000 acres - one to Geo Braxton in 1743, the second
to Rev Robt Rose in 1744.
Elsewhere several patents to "others" - one to Benj Mims (Wm Cabbell's
neighbor back in Goochland Co on Lickinghole Ck), to Jas Fendly who
apparently gave Findlay Mt its name, & to Robt Walton an isolated tract
in the hinterland of Buckingham.
756. In the years 1747-1756, the following transactions occurred:
Wm 1 received a tract on Ravens Ck (yellow)
Wm 2 made his 1st appearance receiving 350 acres on Owens Ck (green)
Saml Burk received 350 acres on both sides of Tye Riv (grey)
Among non-Cabells, Joshua Fry and Margaret & Martha Fry received several
patents in the SW corner (pale green). Joshua Fry, Albemarle Surveyor
was Wm 1's (& Tho Turpin's) boss when the latter were Assistant
But the big change was issuance of another huge tract (28,528 acres) to
Walter King in 1750. King was a Brit and forfeited this land during the
Revolution. Subsequently, the large tract was divided into smaller lots;
many grants are recorded.
Conclusion to this point: large areas still unpatented.
765. The 10-yr interval 1756-1665 saw much activity.
Wm 2 received 1575a bs at Great Bent. There are troubles with the survey
- probably the acreage was good deal larger. Note that the earlier Richd
Burk patent land was included in Wm 2's patent (grey changes to green).
Note also that one of Wm 1's tracts was now identified as that of Wm
Horseley (yellow to grey).
Wm 2 received 1850a on ridge between Slate & Fluvanna Rivs. This plot
Wm 2 received three additional tracts totalling 940a at Pounding Mill,
Stephens, & Fendley Cks.
Jos Cabell 1st appeared, receiving 4 tracts in Buckingham totalling 1515
Jno Cabell 1st appeared receiving 3 patents totalling 685 acres
Geo Burk received 70a on Burks Ck
Wm Megginson received 3 tracts - one previously patented by one Hugh
774. From 1766 to 1774...
Wm 2 received patents for 250a on Shirleys Ck (previously patented by
Joseph) & 3200a on Joes Ck & Ruckers Run
Joseph added 2 patents: 100a on S s Fluvanna & 80a in Buckingham
John patented 500a in Buckingham (including 400a previously patented by
Nicholas 1st appears receiving 5 patents totalling 6776a
Note: Wm 1 died in 1774. By then - or soon after - by deeds or will his
lands would have passed to his 4 sons or other descendants. But this study is
based entirely on the Land Office records of patents & grants. Thus the yellow
color given to Wm Cabbell's patents persists until some subsequent patent
shows that the tract has changed hands. We have seen some of Wm Cabbell's 1739
patents change color as they passed to Allen or Megginson. And we shall yet
see some portions of the "4800 acres" patented in 1738 change color. But much
of the 4800 acres remains yellow up through the final 1805 map, because no
later Land Office record shows conveyance.
785. During the war years 1775 to 1785...
Wm 2 adds 2000a on Mayo, Stephens, Mill, and Joes Cks & 120a fronting
on Fluvanna Riv
Jno adds 120a on a N br of Davids Ck in Buckingham.
Nicholas adds 227a on Ivy Ck of Rockfish Riv
795 Over the decade ending in 1795...
Joseph's received a large patent 14740a in Buckingham (included were 3
tracts patented by him earlier).
Jno received 2200a on S s Fluvanna (included were 2 tracts previously
patented by himself, a tract originally patented by Samuel Burk, and 2
portions of Wm 1's "4800")
Many other tracts patented by "others" the largest being the 5682a of
805 "Mopping up"
Nicholas adds 76a
Jno adds 2 small tracts - each of 33a.
A number of stations of surveys of the HomeLand mention proximity to named
roads. But the names are old ones not found in the DeLorme Va Atlas. It is
interesting to see if the old roads can be related to modern ones. Slide
805WRG is the 805 map overlaid with streams, roads, and a 2-mile grid.
1. A number of stations of surveys in Buckingham mention "Joseph Cabells
Ferry Rd". The stations line up with with modern Rte 664, and appear headed
for a ferry near Westminster.
2. A number of stations of surveys both east & west of the James mention
"Megginsons Ferry Rd". East of the James, the stations line up with stretches
of Rte 607, and the general alignment of stations on both sides of the James
suggests a ferry on the Megginson patent lands (in the vicinity of the
present-day crossroads of Five Forks & Eldridge Corner).
3. There is station of Wm 2's 1785 patent on "Church Road" which appears
to be "Old Norwood Road" of the DeLorme Atlas.
4. There is another station of Wm 2's 1785 patent which mentions "an old
schoolhouse"; it was in the immediate vicinity of "Union Hill".
5. There are stations on "Rolling Road" in Gleasons Gap and along the
south side of Finlays Mt - apparently Rte 47 or Glade Rd.
CABELL PATENTS & GRANTS ELSEWHERE IN AMHERST & NELSON COUNTIES
North and west of the HomeLand, Wm 2, Joseph, and Nicholas Cabell patented
a number of tracts. The records have all been read & the survey lines plotted.
Some of tracts have been approximately located. Some other surveys mention
identifiable streams and can be placed in the general vicinity of the
drainage area. The locations of several other surveys remains unknown at
present. There are large areas (white) where nothing is yet known about
patents & patentees.
The slide AmhNels shows most of the two counties of Amherst & Nelson. A
red rectangle at the lower right delimits the HomeLand. Only a few of the
surveys in the Homeland are plotted. As previously, green identifies tracts of
Wm 2, orange Joseph, lavendar Nicholas, and pale green others.
The map is dominated by several large patents. Yellow marks the 23,700a
patent of Rev Robt Rose (1744), and grey marks the similarly huge patents of
Geo Braxton (1743, 25,000a), Walter King (1750, 28,528a), and three patents of
Jno Chiswell (1739) totalling 30,000a. Also in grey 10,000a patented by Jno
Carter (1738). Since the map was drawn, two more very large patents have been
found: Wm Nicholas (1798, 25,000a) and Jno Fleming (1796, 10,000a). Perhaps
more will be found.
Some of the Wm 2, Jos, & Nicholas tracts were on or adjacent to the
BlueRidge; were they retreats from summer heat?
Table 1. TOTAL ACREAGES PATENTED in old Goochland, Albemarle, Buckingham,
Amherst, & Nelson
# is the number of patents issued. TOTAL is the sum of acreages recorded
in patent records. NEW is the acreage of land newly brought into ownership of
one of the 5 Cabells.
# TOTAL NEW
Wm 1: 14 8,590a 8,590a (includes 1735 patent of 1200a on
Lickinghole Ck in Goochland)
Wm 2: 22 18,084a 17,884a ( -200a previously patented by Jos)
Jno: 10 4,143a 2,919a ( - 400a - 95a previously patented by Jno
- 282a - 447a previously patented by Wm
Jos: 15 18,130a 17,605a ( = 18,130a - 200a - 226a - 100a
Nicholas: 12 13,552a 11,377a ( = 13,552a - 0.5 x 4350a Crawford's
Altogether some ~58,000a were brought into Cabell ownership by these 5
PROGRESSIVE OCCUPATION 1738-1805 - CONCLUSIONS
0) Within "the homeland" (ca 196,000 acres), "the coverage" is the area
in which surveys have been mapped (very roughly 100,000 acres)
1) Within homeland, 1st patent was 1730, last patent about 1805 - 72 yrs
or more than 2 generations.
2) Of the "coverage", only a small fraction of the area was patented
before The Declaration of Independence (1776). Much of coverage was only
patented in the last decade of the 18th C.
It is no surprize that the process of transforming unclaimed land into
privately held tracts proceeded progressively westward from the tidewater. By
1760 or so, lands of present day counties of Henrico, Chesterfield, Goochland,
Powhatan had been completely privatized. But it has surprized me how much
unclaimed land still existed in the Cabell Homeland at the end of the
Revolution, and that the completion of the privatization in the last two
decades of the century occurred at the same time that huge acreages were
granted beyond the BlueRidge and in West Va & KY and even Ohio.