The Brock Family


My parents were Levy D. and Clemmie Rogers Friend of Ivydale, Clay County, West Virginia. My paternal grandparents were William Willis and Rosanna Butler Friend. Rosanna Butler's mother was Mary Jane Brock. The purpose of this paper is to present the Friend/Butler/Brock ties. And in order to understand the ancestery of Mary Jane Brock it is necessary to present some history and tradition as it pertains to her genealogical line.

In the early part of this Country many Brocks settled in a portion of Rockingham County called Brock's Gap. This area was quite large in size and made up perhaps as much as half of Rockingham County. The origin of the name is somewhat in dispute since some claim it was named after the British general Sir Isaac Brock. However, John W. Wayland in his book "Virginia Valley Records" states the following:

"Another popular tradition in Rockingham gives an interesting though unreliable account of the naming of Brock's Gap, to the effect that it was named after the well known British general, Sir Isaac Brock, the "Hero of Upper Canada."

Various particulars are added, for example that General Brock was leading a force (perhaps from Winchester) to the relief of Fort Seybert, on the South Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac, and enroute camped in the Gap, thereafter "Brock's Gap."

Certain facts make the tradition faulty. Fort Seybert was captured by the Indians and probably destroyed in 1758; so says Kercheval. The old minute book of the Linville Creek Baptist Church shows that the Indian raids broke upon the region in 1757 and continued for several years. General Brock was not born until the year 1769, and he did not serve in America till 1802.

It seems much more probable that Brock's Gap got its name from some early settlers therein or thereabout by the name of Brock. Record show Brocks in or near the Gap as early as 1748 and 1752.

From Washington's journal quoted above (September 29, 1784) it will be seen that the name Brock's Gap was familiar in 1784, when Washington came down through the Gap. In 1784 Gen. Brock was only 15 years old - was not a general; and he did not come to America until 18 years later."

That the Brocks were of German origin cannot be questioned. Nancy B. Hess writing in the book "The Heartland - Rockingham County" states: "The sturdy German race pervails all over Rockingham, particularily in Brock's Gap County. In years past, this region was called German River."

The oldest known relative of Mary Jane Brock is Thomas Brock who suddenly appeared on the pages of history on March 9, 1790, with his marriage to Mary W. McCollum in what was then Greenbrier County, Va. (now W.Va.). Prior to that time Thomas supposedly lived in Greenbrier County, Va., until the part of the county he was living in became part of Bath County in late 1790. However, according to a Reverend Albert Elswick, Thomas was a taxpayer in Augusta County, Virginia in 1790. In 1821 the part of Bath County that Thomas lived in became part of Pocahontas County, Va., (now W.Va.) Conceivably could have lived in the same area all his life. Only the county names changed. Thomas died in early 1825, and his will was probated in Pocahontas County.

Several traditions have been handed down through the years concerning the origin of Thomas Brock. One unnamed source claims that Thomas is part of a German family that moved to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia about 1750 from Pennswylvania. A couple of other traditions are discussed below.

During the French and Indian War (1754 - 1763) an incident took place that some have tried to link to Thomas Brock. In his book "A History of Shenandoah County, Virginia", John W. Wayland writes the following:

"The Indians had come into the Valley and the settlers were in imminent peril. Many of them in the region designated had gathered in Holman's Fort, which was located, according to the tradition, on or near Rude's Hill...

...Among those who one summer sought refuge with his family in Holman's Fort, was a Mr. Jones, whose home was on Mill Creek, about two miles above Mt. Clifton. It was near harvest, and Mr. Jones, an aged man, became restless in the fort and decided to go to his home, distant about eight miles, to look over his wheat field. A friend accompanied him and they rode out to Walnut Grove, Jones's farm, without seeing any Indians; but while they were admiring the fertile lands and the ripening grain old Mr. Jones was shot and fell dead. His friend got back to the fort and told the sad news. Then old Mr. Jones's son, with several other men, went out to avenge his father's death. They searched around Walnut Grove, finding neither the Indians nor the slain man's body, but as they were returning in the dusk of evening young Mr. Jones was shot from his white horse by an enemy who was hidden in an overhanging bluff. The next morning his body was found near the spot where he was killed and it was buried beside the creek.

While in Holman's Fort, on this occasion, young Mr. Jones's wife, Anna, gave birth to a daughter, who was also named Anna. About the same time, or shortly before, up in Brock's Gap, some one found a boy baby, whether lost in an Indian raid or otherwise abandoned was never known. A Mr. Lokey, who lived near Lacey Spring, brought him up and when he was twenty-one gave him a horse, saddle, and bridle. John Brock - this was the name that Lokey had given him - married Anna Jones, the girl who was born in Holman's Fort. Brock lived to be more than three score and ten (1753 - 1827) and became very wealthy - a large landowner. Archibald Brock of Lacey Spring was his son, and many descendants of the family are now living in Rockingham County."

And the above mentioned Nancy Hess writes of the origin of John Brock that: "One interesting account tells that after an Indian Raid in the area, a little boy was found alone; all he could say was "brock" so he was given the name John Brock."

In a book called "Rockingham Co. Marriages, 1778 - 1850", compiled by John Vogt and T. William Kethley, Jr., the above mentioned marriage of John Brock and Anna Jones does appear to be confirmed. A notation is made of the marriage of John Brock and Ann Jones, d. of Hue, on November 26, 1782. And this being the case, this John Brock could not have been the father of our Thomas Brock because, as stated above, Thomas was married to Mary W. McCollum on March 9, 1790. A copy of the marriage certificate in the hands of this writer attests to this fact.

Another tradition that many have put forth claims that Thomas Brock was the son of a John Brock who married Ann Curtis in 1774. This would have made Thomas only 15 or 16 years old when he married in 1790. While it was not that unusual for women to be married at that age, the men rarely did so. But John McGill wrote a large book called "The Beverley Family of Virginia" in which several members of the Brock Family are listed. For John and Ann Curtis Brock, McGill does list a Thomas as their third born child. However, this Thomas is listed as having died unmarried. Quite possibly he died as a child.

And so, at this point, despite extensive research, the origins of our Thomas Brock remains a mystery. This writer's research has turned up the fact that Thomas Brock and Richard Brock are shown on the Bath County, Virginia, 1800 tax lists. Also on this tax list is Daniel McCollam who is probably Thomas Brock's father-in-law. The Virginia 1800 Census records were destroyed and are not available for review. And the 1790 Census (first census taken in this country) show no Richard Brock or Thomas Brock although Thomas may not have been the head of a household at the time the census was taken. But Richard is shown in the 1810 Virginia Census while Thomas is not even though he would have been about 30 years of age at the time. The only assumption this writer can make is that Richard Brock may have been Thomas's father and Thomas was living in Richard's household at the time. Only heads of households were named in the early census. An attempt was made to review a microfilm copy of the 1810 Census to determine if an adult male was living in Richard's household, but the film was so faded that it could not be read with accuracy. A measure of credence is given to this assumption since 2 Thomas Brock's from Bath County appear in the Virginia 1820 Census and Richard does not. Richard may well have died since 1810 and one of these Thomas Brocks became head of the household. And perhaps credence can be given to the supposition stated above that since Richard Brock does not show in the 1790 Virginia Census, if he was in fact Thomas Brock's father, he did come to Virginia in 1750 with his family from Pennsylvania. And so much research remains to be done in this area.

But while little is known of our Thomas Brock's origin, much is known of his descendents. As noted above, he was married in 1790 so it is fairly safe to assume that he was born somewhere around 1770. And it is known that he married Mary W. Mccullum.

Writing of the McCollum family in his book "The History of Pocohontas County, West Virginia", William T. Price writes the following:

"One of the oldest families in our county is that of the McCollum family. While it is not certain, there is good reason to believe that the pioneer ancestor was Daniel McCollum. From correspondence with a lady from New Hampshire there is no reason to question that he was of Scotch-Irish descent, and the son of a physician, a graduate of the University of Edinbur, and lived in New Jersey. The name of the pioneer's wife cannot be recalled. Mr. McCollam, the ancestor, came from New Jersey in 1770 and settled on Brown's Mountain near Driscol, which is yet known as the "McCollam Place". The ancestor Daniel McCollam had children Jacob, Daniel, William, Rebecca, Mary, and Sarah. Mary McCollam married Thomas Brock, and lived on the "Duffield Place" now held by Newton Duffield. Her children were Daniel, William, Robert and Margaret, wife of the late William Duffield near the Warwick Spring."

Robert Albert Brock was Mary Jane Brock's father. He was born about 1805 and married Martha Coulter on October 26, 1833. Martha Coulter was born April 16, 1805, and died on December 11, 1882. Robert and Martha apparently migrated to what is now Greenbrier County, West Virginia, as they are listed in the 1840 Census for Greenbrier County. They are both listed as being 30 years but under 40 years of age. They were listed at that time as having one female child 5 years and under 10 years of age (Mary Jane born in 1834) and one male child under 5 years of age.

From Greenbrier County, Robert and Martha Brock apparently migrated to Braxton County, Va. (now W.Va.). They are shown in both the 1850 and 1860 census for that county. According to Reverend Al Elswick, a direct descendent of Robert Brock, Robert is buried in a tiny out of the way place in Braxton County called Servia. At this time nothing else is known about Robert and Martha Coulter Brock.

Clay County was formed in 1858 from parts of Braxton, Nicholas and Kanawha Counties. In 1850, the area that Oliver Marion Butler resided in quite possibly was in the part of Braxton County that became part of Clay County. And it is probably because her parents migrated from Greenbrier County to Braxton County that Mary Jane Brock came to meet Oliver Butler.

Mary Jane Brock married Oliver Marion Butler on December 23, 1850, and they had seven children. Their children were Margaret (born November 11, 1851 and died in 1863), Robert Allen (born May 21, 1853, married Florence Cunningham and died April 30, 1911), Rosanna (born October 4, 1856, married William Willis Friend and died February 4, 1946), Phebe Levisa (born March 1, 1859, married an unidentified gentleman and then Elliott G. MacNemar and died March 13, 1894), Mary Lousia (born June 23, 1861, married Mitchell Elswick, Jr., and died January 13, 1945), William Edward ( born August 15, 1865, married Nora E. Cart then Rosa Eagle, and died August 3, 1942) and Sarah Frances ( born March 22, 1869 married Samuel Milton Bragg and died August 1, 1956).

Oliver Marion Butler died in 1911. Mary Jane Brock Butler died in 1924. Both are buried in the Chapman Cemetery located on Moore's Fork of Big Otter Creek in the northwest quadrant of Clay County.

As stated above, our line of the Brock Family probably were of German origin. However, based on accounts by those who knew Mary Brock Butler she maintained stoutly that her foreparents were English (the Brocks) and Scottish (the McCollums).


The above presentation on the Brock Family of Clay County, West Virginia, was prepared by Art Friend in August of 1998.