The Rogers Family of Clay County

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My parents were Levy D. and Clemmie Rogers Friend of Ivydale, Clay County, West Virginia. Ivydale is a small town located in a remote part of Clay County about 50 miles northeast of Charleston, the state capitol. It is a sleepy, rural town separated into two parts by the Elk River. State Route 16/4 runs through one part of Ivydale and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad tracks run through the other. The town has a population of about 150. My mother spent her entire life in Ivydale or nearby and ventured away from home only on rare occasions. This presentation deals with her genealogical line of the Rogers family.

The first Rogers in my mother's line to come to this country was Charles Rogers. Charles was born in Londonderry, Ireland, in 1774 and according to one source, came to America as a stowaway in a hogshead on a freighter, landing on the coast of Virginia about 1796. Some family records indicate that Charles had two sisters, Margaret who married a Mr. Moore and Ellen who married a Mr. Freel. There is no evidence that either sister came to America. But another source states that Charles had three brothers that came to America with him with one of them settling in Gassaway, Braxton County, West Virginia. The names of their parents are unknown at this time. But according to family history, the family had a linen factory in Londonderry, but Charles, a Protestant, left Ireland to escape Catholic persecution.

Records show Charles living in Ruddle, Randolph County, Virginia, in 1796 and in the same year he was married to Hannah Skidmore in Pendleton County, Virginia (now W.Va.) by a minister named Morton. Hannah was the daughter of John and Mary Magdalene Hinkle Skidmore, this union providing one of the several links between the Rogers, Skidmore and Friend families. Hannah was born in Augusta County, Va., in 1776 and her father John was a Revolutionary War Captain.

Charles apparently was a colorful character: Clayburn Pierson, a contemporary of Charles in his younger days (Pierson's), writes of him and calls him "Uncle Charlie," a God-fearing man and tells that he spoke with a heavy brogue. Charles reportedly was a wandering peddler when he married Hannah.

Charles and Hannah settled on a farm for fourteen years in the Shenandoah Valley and had five children there: John born in 1796, Margaret born in 1799, Levi born in 1803, Noah born in 1806 and Elijah born in 1809. James A. was born in 1820 after the family had moved to Braxton County, Va., (Now W.Va.).

Charles, while living in the Shenandoah Valley apparently was jailed after posting bond for a scoundrel who left town, and was helped from the jail by Hannah; they left for the mouth of Otter in Braxton County on horseback, leaving word that they could be found there.

In 1831, Charles and Hannah migrated to what is now Wallback in Clay County, West Virginia. At the time, the Wallback area was a complete wilderness. Charles built a pioneer house from Buckeye trees and he and Hannah spent the rest of their lives there farming, planting apple orchards and raising mulberries. Both are buried in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery located at Wallback. Hannah died in 1847 and Charles died in 1849.

My mother's line of the Rogers family descends from Levi Rogers who was born on January 5, 1803, in Bath County, Virginia. Levi married Naomi Skidmore on March 3, 1825, in Nicholas County, Virginia (now W.Va.). Naomi was born in Nicholas County on December 4, 1809. She was the daughter of Andrew and Margaret Ellen Hudkins Skidmore and a cousin to Hannah Skidmore, Levi's mother.

Shortly after Clay County was formed in 1858, on July 12, 1858, its first county courts were formed. Levi was commissioned as one of the nine new justices of the peace for the new county.

Levi and Naomi had nineteen children but only ten of them reached adulthood. These ten and their spouses were Hannah H. born March 30, 1826, and died April 9, 1868 (Adam J. Hyer May 17, 1845), Andrew Seth born Sept. 20, 1831, and died Sept. 10, 1875 (Mary Jane Griffith Oct. 30, 1851), Allen S. born Feb. 21, 1837, and died Dec. 4, 1877 (Susan M. Hill Nov. 13, 1859), Mary E. born Mar. 24, 1843 (Samuel Fugate), Margaret Jane born Sept. 17, 1845 (George Fitzwater Nov. 17, 1859), Emma born April 29, 1846, and died May 13, 1889 (James J. Smith Dec. 5, 1860), Alfred Morgan born June 18, 1848, and died 1927 (Mary Florence Davis on Dec. 31, 1868 and Sarah Summers on Sept. 13, 1877), Sarah E. born on April 17, 1850, and died Sept. 10, 1928 (Matthew H. Davis Sept. 14, 1882), Levi P. born on May 16, 1851 (Mary E. Hanshaw Mar. 1, 1877 and Sally A. Coger June 12, 1884) and James A. Rogers born in 1814 died either Oct. 15, 1861 or Nov. 7, 1861 (Christina Cook).

Levi died in Braxton County, W.Va., on August 2, 1871 and Naomi died February 7, 1877.

Particular note is made here about the death of James A. Rogers. James was the brother of Allen S. Rogers as indicated above. Allen was my mother's grandfather and her father's name was James Anderson Rogers and he could have well been named after his aforementioned uncle James A. Rogers the 1st.

Clayburn Pierson, a contemporary of James A . Rogers the 1st, in an article entitled "Early History of Clay County" in "The History of Clay County W.V. 1989" writes the following:

"There was a double murder committed on the waters of the Big Otter in the early part of the war of the Rebellion which for brutality of execution was without a parallel in a civilized country, and the brutality of which would only be conceived by a base coward or a brutal savage. The victims were James Rogers, a peaceable and respected citizen, and Solomon Carpenter, his neighbor. The murderers were a band of low characters claiming to be rebel soldiers led by Perry Conolly of bush whacking fame. The murderers came to the homes of those innocent men in the dead hours of night; their wives were absent from home waiting on a sick woman. Those fiends dragged their victims out of their beds and away from their children, took them a short distance, bound them back to back, and riddled their bodies with bullets. In this condition they were found the next day and their bodies interred."

A possible motive for the murder of James Rogers and his neighbor Solomon Carpenter might well be found in Roger Vaughan's article in the "History of Clay County, W.V. Volume II" entitled "Clay County's Home Guard". In his article Vaughan talks about the 126th Militia which was formed by Unionists in Clay County. They were later renamed the Clay County Scouts. Vaughan states that "I am inclined to believe that this organization, in large part, existed only on paper. I know it contains the names of people, many Confederate sympathizers, whose descendants have no knowledge of their participation in such unit. It almost seems to be a list of able-bodied men who were not serving in either regular army at the time". And in the case of my great great grandfather, Jeremiah Butler, Vaughan's position was true since Jeremiah was a Southern sympathizer and was on the published roster of the 126th Militia.

However, others on the roster of the 126th Militia obviously were Union sympathizers and this may have led to their murder. James A. Rogers was on the list as well as Jesse Carpenter, brother to Solomon Carpenter, who was murdered along with James. On the 126th roster, Jesse Carpenter is listed as having been murdered by Rebel guerrillas as well at an unknown time and place. These murders appear to have been carried out by members of the Virginia State Rangers and State Line a guerrilla band of Southern sympathizers formed early in the War. These men, operating in the Clay, Braxton, Nicholas and Calhoun County areas, were also known as the Moccasin Rangers. The above mentioned Perry Conolly (Conley) was a captain in this organization. Strangly enough, my great great grandfather on my father's side, Oliver Marion Butler, was also a member of the Moccasin Rangers and was captured by Union forces on Oct. 15, 1861. Information contained in the roster of the 126 militia discussed above by Roger Vaughan places James Rogers murder on the same date. On the other hand, Don Norman on his Internet site fixes the date as November 7, 1861. And a recently erected marker in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Wallback puts the death date as November, 1861. So it seems that the death date for James Rogers is still to be determined. However, records indicate that Oliver was captured in Nicholas County and, if so, had nothing to do with the killing of James Rogers especially if he was murdered in November since Oliver was in Federal prison at that time. Neverless, more research would appear to be warranted about this situation.

As noted above, Allen S. Rogers was my mother's grandfather and he married Susan M. Hill in Kanawha County, Va. (now W.Va.) on November 13, 1859. Susan was born August 27, 1837, and was a daughter of Henry and Susannah (Smith) Hill. She had previously been married to John C. Booker (Nov. 3, 1852, in Kanawha County). After Allen's death on December 2, 1877, she married Thomas M. Arthurs on Feb. 6, 1879, in Clay County, West Virginia.

Allen S. and Susan Hill Rogers had seven children. These seven children and their spouses were Levi Bascom born Aug. 24, 1861, and died Jan. 15, 1918 (Susan M. Moore Jan. 27, 1882), Adaline V. born about 1865 (Henry F. Cline Dec. 23, 1885, and then Samuel Camp), James Anderson born Mar. 16, 1868, and died Jan., 1932 (Malinda Belle Dawson Nov. 8, 1894, and then after Malinda married again), Selina M. born Aug. 22, 1866 (Francis M. Reed), Jerusha Adaline born May 1, 1870, and died Feb. 14, 1937 (Marshal Clark Friend), William H. Harrison born about 1871 and died July 21, 1911 (Mary A. Boggs) and Columbia born 1873 and died in 1873.

Ivydale, Clay County, West Virginia, is surrounded by high mountains. High on top of one of the very inaccessible mountains overlooking Ivydale, in a very remote area, Allen S. Rogers apparently cleared a level piece of ground, built a house and raised his family. I say apparently because most of Allen's predecessors are buried in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Wallback, Clay County, about 15 miles away and their graves are clearly marked.

A cousin of mine, Lois Friend Langley, of Ormond Beach, Florida, has the family bible from the Rogers home stead near Ivydale and Allen Rogers is listed in it. There is a Rogers Cemetery on top of the mountain but it is so remote that I have never visited it. Allen's grave may well be marked by a gravestone as I know from my mother that gravestones were put up for her parents James Anderson and Malinda Dawson Rogers who are buried there.

Allen Rogers died, according to the family bible, "December the 2 day 1877, age 41 years, 2 months, 12 days" and my grandfather James Anderson Rogers eventually took over ownership of the farm. Level land, capable of being farmed, was scarce in that part of Clay County which may explain why Allen and then James Anderson would elect to live in such a remote area.

James Rogers did elect to stay on top of the mountain and live an isolated and quite possibly lonesome life. He married Malinda Belle Dawson who died in 1910 at the age of 34 apparently from typhoid fever. She left her husband with 7 young children to care for while he tried to grub out a living on his mountain top farm. There is evidence that for a time he did earn money by making railroad cross ties. And after Mialinda's death James did enter into an unfortunate second marriage.

James and Malinda Dawson Rogers' seven children were Gilbert born April 16, 1895, Lula Jane born 1896, Henry Herman born Nov. 3, 1901, Clemmie Ann born April 2, 1904, James Jenkins born Oct. 9, 1906, Rhoda Gay born Oct. 27, 1908, and Westy Caroline (Lina) born July 30, 1897.

After all of James Anderson Roger's children had grown to adulthood and had left the mountain, he continued to live there. One of his sons, James Jenkins Rogers, who lived several miles away, not having seen his father for some time, climbed the mountain and found that his father had suffered a stroke. He physically carried his father down the mountain and for a couple of miles further to his home to care for him, but he died several days later in January of 1932.

My mother, Clemmie Rogers Friend, even though she lived only about 15 miles away from Wallback where her ancestors Charles and Hannah Rogers are buried, apparently knew nothing of them even to her death. And it seems rather ironic, that with the construction of Interstate Route 79 that runs north/south in West Virginia, one can clearly see the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Wallback standing somewhat like a monument on the left. My mother most certainly had seen it on trips south to Charleston the state capitol and never knew that the progenitors of her family lay buried there.

My mother died on October 3, 1985, at the age of 80 and is buried in the Friend Cemetery in Ivydale. Art Friend

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The above article was written by Arthur R. Friend in October, 1997.

Sources drawn from include:

1. "Early History of Clay County" by Clayburn Pierson

2. "Clay County's Home Guard" by Roger Vaughan

3. "Harper: Rogers-Skidmore Connection to Harper Family" by Freda Harper Young

4. "Charles Rogers" by Louise Rogers

5. "History of Clay Co., W.V. 1989"

6. "History of Clay Co., W.V. Volume II"

7. Don Norman Web Site, http://www.everton.com/norman/norman.don/