The Paxton Family


ABNER JEHU PAXTON - The progenitor of one major line of Paxtons in West Virginia was Abner Jehu Paxton. Abner was born around 1817 in Botetourt County, Virginia, believed by many to be the son of William Paxton and Hannah Abbott, although some researches claim a different paternity. It is almost certain that Abner's ancestors trace back to one of three sons of James Paxton believed to come to America from Northern Ireland before1732, arriving first in Pennsylvania, but moving down into Virginia with the opening of Benjamin Borden's land grant. When Augusta County was further divided, Abner's family was in the area that became Botetourt County. On October 3, 1839, Abner married Hester Elmore, daughter of William Elmore and Hannah Huffman. Abner and his wife had the following children: Sarah Jane, who married James Brisendine; Elizabeth A., who married Samuel Brown Paxton; Cephas Shelburn, who married Sarah Jane "Sally" Slack; Eliza Adeline, who married James Henry Moore; Caroline, who married William Remley Dodd; Hester Leurinda, who married Henry Taylor Burdette; Mary M. who married Adam Procious; and Winfield Worth who married "Rena" Malinda Burnside. Abner served very briefly during the Civil War for the Confederacy and was a constable of Craig County Virginia before the war. Abner and his family remained in New Castle, Virginia until sometime after January 1865. One tradition states that he travelled to Kanawha County, near East Bank, to visit his daughter Eliza and son Cephas and that, while he was there, he broke his leg in a fall. A serious injury in that day and age, when the news travelled to wife Hester, she panicked and sold their land for a cheap price and packed up children and belongings in a wagon and headed for Kanawha County. Abner is said to have cried when he found out she had sold the land. Shortly thereafter they settled on land in Horner's Fork in Clay County, which appears to be part of the land of Abner's fourth-cousin, William Paxton. This William is very likely the son of Thomas Paxton and Dicena Cartwright. Thomas and his family had been in Kanawha County since 1820. Abner and Hester settled permanently in West Virginia. In January of 1882, Hester died in Clay County. In early 1883, Abner secured deed to 29 acres on Twistabout and Dismal Creeks, where he built a log house. Later that year, he married Elizabeth Hall, widow of Sam Samples. No death record exists for Abner, but he was holding property at least as late as October 1888 when he deeded some land in Union District to his grandson, William Brisendine. Abner is buried in Sams Cemetery near Procious next to his wife, Hester, and his daughter Hester Leurinda, her husband, and William Brisendine.

WINFIELD WORTH PAXTON - Clay County seems to have remained the nucleus for Abner's family. However, my great-great-grandfather, Winfield Worth, apparently did some travelling throughout West Virginia. Some family members say he spotted lumber for the lumber companies. At any rate, he apparently lived for a while in Fayette county, where his wife's family lived. In April 1871 Worth married Poyrena "Rena" Malinda Burnside, daughter of George Alexander Burnside Sr. and Julia Woodrum, in Kanawha County. Sometime after 1880 and before 1900, Worth and his family moved to Clay County. Worth and Rena had the following children: Charles Abner, who married Chessie Mae Loving; Laura Belle, who married Harry Bleakney; John Riley, who married Frances Arthur then Sarah Walker; Alonzo Shelburn who married Nancy Walker then Ida Workman O'Brien; Harris Leonard "Clyde" who married Mary Sue Elmore then Ollie Moore McKown; Barbara Ellen who died young; Robert Henry, who married Margaret Estelle Hart; Bertha Harriet, who married Mark Smarr; and Jesse Howard, who married Florina Hamrick. Rena died in Clay County in 1910, and Worth remarried in October 1911 to the twice-married Isabelle Malinda Weaver of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The marriage was short-lived, however, apparently not lasting above a couple of weeks. A few years before his death in 1931, Worth moved in with his son Jesse Howard. Worth is buried in Friend Cemetery in Ivydale along with his wife Rena.

HARRIS LEONARD PAXTON - Harris Leonard, who was called "Poppy" by his family and "Clyde" by most everyone else, was born on Valentine's Day in 1883. In May 1902 he married in Clay County Mary Sue Elmore of Roane County, daughter of Zedoc Elmore and Sarah A. LaFon. Clyde and Mary lived for a while in Buffalo District where Clyde and several of his siblings lived "in a pile" according to his daughter Rena. At that time Clyde and a couple of his brothers were working for the Buffalo Creek and Gauley Railroad. There was some friction between Clyde's wife and her in-laws, so the couple moved to the Ivydale area. Sometime around 1911, clyde undertook a four-year correspondence course with the London School of Veterinary Medicine in Ontario, Canada. Upon its completion, he was hired by a hauling contractor at Ivydale to doctor and inspect daily about 600 head of horses and cattle that were being used by the crews hauling pipe from Ivydale to the oil fields. A man of many enterprises, Clyde also served for many years through the late 1920s as Justice of the Peace for Otter and Henry Districts. He also worked in a liquor store in Ivydale. Clyde and his first wife, Mary Elmore, were third cousins. They had the following children: Delphia Mae, who married Samuel Summers then George Dulaney; Dorcas Adeline who married Henry Clay King of Calhoun County; Rata Ethel who married Rophy Hayse Thompson; and Richard Gainor, who died as a child. Clyde and Mary also had a stillborn son and daughter, and Mary was pregnant at the time of her death in 1921. In September of 1921, Clyde married Ollie Moore the Widow McKown, who had six children from her previous marriage. Clyde and Ollie lived "up the holler" from Ivydale along the creek until their children were grown. There used to be a path up the bluff that my mother still remembers the dew-covered cobwebs in the mornings walking down to school. After their children were grown, Clyde and Ollie moved to Clay. They had the following children: Rena Malinda who married Russell Roscoe Nicholas, and Clifford Eugene, who died as an infant. Ollie died in 1946. Clyde married twice more, but had no other children. He was considered the patriarch of his family and was idolized by his daughters. A small man with dark hair and dark eyes, he was a fastidious dresser. He died just a few days before his 93rd birthday in Clay. His family is continued on through his daughters.

The Paxtons were a prolific lot. Of Abner's son Winfield alone, Abner had 9 grandchildren, 55 great-grandchildren and at least 165 great-great-grandchildren. Included among these descendants are Roscoe Keeney, who wrote "Paxtons from West Virginia" and Hugh Dawson, who wrote "Twistabout and Thereabouts..."


The above article was submitted by Cindy Hoffman of Fisherville, Kentucky, in August of 1998. Questions should be addressed to Cindy