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Captain William McMachen

Male Abt 1727 - 1811  (~ 84 years)

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  • Name Captain William McMachen 
    Title Captain 
    Born Abt 1727  , , Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Died 1811  , Mason, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • From:

      William McMechen was the first settler on a bottom about five miles below Wheeling, which bears his name, and on which the city of McMechen now stands. He came from the South Branch of the Potomac River about the year 1773, and took up a tomahawk claim to a large tract of fine bottom land. His wife, nee Sidney Johnson, came with him and was the first white woman to make her home on that bottom. The land of Mr. McMechen, known as McMechen's Bottom, extended down to the Narrows above the Flats of Grave Creek, and it was on this land that Captain William Foreman and a number of his men were murdered by a party of Indians under Half King, Wyandot chief, on the 27th of September, 1777.

      Mr. and Mrs. McMechen were among the many early settlers who endured the horrors of Indian war from 1777 until after the Battle of Fallen Timber in August, 1794, and the treaty at Greenville a year later. They had many unpleasant experiences with Indians. On one of their forays into Northwestern Virginia, they stole all Mr. McMechen's horses. He started in pursuit of them on foot and followed them almost to the Great Lakes but failed to overtake them and recover his horses. When he arrived home he found that his wife and family were gone. They had concluded from his prolonged absence that he had been slain or capyured by Indians, and Mrs. McMechen, with their children and negro servants and property, had removed to Red Stone Old Fort for safety. They remained there for several years and then returned to the bottom and settled there permanently.

      SOURCE: News-Register, Wheeling, WV, Sunday, 5 Jul 1992.
      (Copied from Tri-County Researcher)

      A group of sixty people, which included members of the McMechen family, came to the United States from Armaugh, Ireland in 1720 and settled in New Castle, PA.
      In the year 1771, Capt. William McMechen II traveled to Virginia to establish a "tomahawk claim" in the area extending from McMechen Run to Boggs Run in Marshall Co, WV. Under the tomahawk claim, the state of Virginia permitted settlers to claim 440 acres of land in the state by blazing a tree in a corner of the property and then carving their initials on its trunk. Captain William McMechen is said to have been the second settler in the area, Ebenezer Zane being the first. The Boggs family settled in the area between Boggs Run and Caldwell Run in 1772. Six years later, the Boggs and McMechen families fought in the Revolutionary War. After the war, Virginia Gov. Patrick Henry awarded all men who fought in the War up to 2,000 acres of land. Capt. William McMechen claimed an additional 1400 acres of land beyond "The Narrows" of what is now West Virginia St. Rt. 2.

      The captain had six children. Benjamin McMechen, who married Nancy Boggs and had fourteen children, took over farming the land upon his father's death. The town of Benwood is said to be named after him.

      When Benjamin's sons became of age, he gave them the choice of running the family farm or receiving a college education. Shepherd McMechen chose to operate the farm, while his brother, James Hanson McMechen, went to college and became a pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

      Then the Civil War broke out in 1861, causing a rift between James Hanson McMechen and his son, William Meade McMechen. While James was a "a staunch Union supporter," William joined the Confederate Army and fought against the Union under Gen. Stonewall Jackson and Gen. James Longstreet, as a lieutenant in the cavalry. William was captured in the Shenandoah Valley in the later stages of the war. He met his future wife, Virginia Rutherford, in Winchester.

      The Civil War tore the family apart and as a result, William's branch of the family fled the area after the South was defeated. William moved to New York City and then got involved in the mining business in Colorado. That branch of the family moved to Colorado and has been there ever since.

      When Shepherd McMechen died, his wife, Alcinda Cockayne, inherited all the McMechen land and then sold a majority of the property to the B & 0 Railroad.


      David Shepherd (1734-1795) Papers, 5 vols. Shepherdstown was named of the Shepherd family. About 1774, David Shepherd moved west and purchased the property of Silas Zane at the forks of Wheeling Creek. In 1777, he commanded Fort Henry during the siege. He led an Ohio County regiment on Brodhead's campaign (1781) and served in the Virginia legislature. Most of the papers are business and military related. Volume 1 (1755-1780) contains land claims and receipts; papers of Shepherd's son-in-law Francis Duke, who was killed at the first siege of Wheeling (1777); contributions for public salt; papers on the defense of Fort Henry; letters from Governor Patrick Henry and Gen. Edward Hand; papers on Foreman's defeat (1777); petition to congress for supplies; letters of George Rogers Clark concerning boats and ammunition for his 1778 expedition; drafts for the continental army; militia officer commissions; court marial fines; letters from his brother Abraham Shepherd after release from imprisonment in the Eastern army; letters of Brodhead, McIntosh, and Jefferson concerning militia; muster roll of the 9th Virginia regiment; and a memorial to congress containing a petition for a new state west of the Alleghenies (1780). Volume 2 (1781-1790) relates to military matters and contains orders and letters from Col. Daniel Brodhead, George Rodgers Clark, Col. John Gibson, William Wilson, John Rogers, David Bradford, Abraham Shepherd, Patrick Henry, Beverly Randolph, Edumund Randolph, Arthur St. Clair, and John Knox; papers on a land contest of the Hite heirs with the Fairfax estate. Volume 3 (1791-1794) relates chiefly to Indian difficulties and contains letters from Gen. John Knox, Gen. Anthony Wayne, Gen. Richard Butler, Governor Henry Lee, and Benjamin Biggs; accounts of the return of militia companies headed by Captains McGuire, William McMachen, Baxter, and Lewis Bonnett; also contains letters from Alexander White and from Henry Bedinger and George Washington concerning land on Round Bottom; and contains a plat of Shepherd's lands. Volume 4 consists of a book in which Shepherd entered pay and muster rolls for the Brohead Coshochton expedition of 1781 for the companies of Joseph Ogle, Captain Royes, Jacob Lefler, and William Crawford, with a lists of losses from the campaign; the books was later used as an account book (1801-1804) for the milling business of Moses Shepherd. Volume 5 consists of a memorandum book for military matters (1779-1790). Source: Thwaites, Descriptive List of Manuscript Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1906, pp. 66-67.
    Person ID I1553265  7_families
    Last Modified 20 Sep 2004 

    Father William McMachen,   b. 1690-1695, , , Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Dec 1749, Winchester, Frederick, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 54 years) 
    Mother Elizabeth Blair,   b. Abt 1700, Of, , , Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 26 May 1788  (Age ~ 88 years) 
    Married Abt 1720  , , Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F563281  Group Sheet

    Family 1 Mrs. Elizabeth Cartmell,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Last Modified 16 Sep 2006 
    Family ID F563945  Group Sheet

    Family 2 Christian,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married 1747  , Augusta, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Last Modified 16 Sep 2006 
    Family ID F563946  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - Abt 1727 - , , Ireland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 1747 - , Augusta, Virginia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 1811 - , Mason, Kentucky Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
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    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Sources 
    1. [S8471] McMahon, William & Elizabeth Blair descendants, Martha Stanley, (Online ).