The Grandstaff Family

Submitted by Alice Walton Mason.

“History of the Grandstaff Family”

     Though sometimes difficult, it is often interesting to trace the history of the families of the pioneers, whose bravery and love of adventure resulted in placing the early settlement and civilization in the Ohio Valley, which, prior to 1770, was an unbroken wilderness.

     If you will turn to Kercheval’s History of the Valley of Virginia, chapter 8, page 110, you will find that in 1758 a man by the name of John Stone, near what is called the White House in the Hocksville settlement, was killed by the Indians. Stone’s wife with her infant child and a son about seven or eight years old, were taken off as prisoners. On the South Branch Mountain the Indians murdered Mrs. Stone and her infant, and took the boy and Grandstaff to their town. Grandstaff was about three years a prisoner and then got home. It is not positively known the exact relationship of the George Grandstaff to the ancestry of the numerous family now residing in this country but certain it is that about the year 1770, at the time the Tomilsons settled Moundsville, and the Zanes, Sheperds, Caldwells, Ogles, Wetzels, Kellers and others settled in Wheeling and on Wheeling Creek, a man by the name of Grandstaff, with his brothers, Adam Grandstaff, sister Rosie, came from the Valley of Virginia, near where the incident narrated above occurred, and settled on Wheeling Creek, in what is now Marshall County, near the mouth of Grandstaff Run, after whom the run was named. The maiden name of the wife of this Mr. Grandstaff cannot be learned and indeed his first name is unfortunately, unknown. This Mr. Grandstaff has a son Jacob who was born August 17, 1799. The father of Jacob was killed by the Indians, date unknown while burning bush in his clearing about a half mile below the mouth of Grandstaff’s run.

     Jacob Grandstaff married, Sarah Rodefer, this Sarah Rodefer was the daughter of Barbary Bonnett, who died in 1884 at the advanced age of 102 years, at the residence of her son-in-law, Jacob Grandstaff. By reference to History and Indian War of Western Virginia, by DeHass, chapter 2, page 82, it will be seen that in 1772, Bonnet, Wetzel, Messrs, Silas Zane and many other hardy pioneers from the same region (near Fort Cumberland), men whose means influenced and contributed greatly toward breaking the power of the savages and subduing the country to the wants of civilization. This clearly shows that the Bonnets were also of the first settlers of the section. On the same page, it appears that when these settlers came to the forks of the Wheeling Creek, “the company separated, Wetzel, Bonnet and others going up Big Wheeling, while Zane and one or two brothers went down.”

     The family of John Rodefer and Barbary (Bonnet) Rodefer were as follows: Sons-John, Jacob, Joseph, and Silas; daughters, Sarah, who married Jacob Grandstaff, Polly, who married Alvert Davis; Peggie, who married Joseph Bell; and Elizabeth, who married Benjamin Aulton. All of these are now deceased. John Rodefer, the husband of Barbary Bonnet was a blacksmith, nailmaker, and distiller. He afterwards sold his place on Wheeling Creek and moved to Ohio, purchasing the land where Bellaire now stands, where he died at the age of 87 and his wife at the age of 86. The children of Jacob Grandstaff and Sarah (Rodefer) Grandstaff were: Sons-Samuel, John R. and William, Daughters; Maria, Barbara and Adaline.

     John R. Grandstaff, the son of Jacob and Sarah, from whom much of this information is derived was born September 12th, 1825 on Wheeling Creek, near where his grandfather settled and is hale and hearty at the advanced age of 86 years. He remembers of seeing Lewis Wetzel, Jacob Keller, Ezekiel and Alexander Caldwell and many others of the older inhabitants, and old Barbara Wetzel, the hand-loom weaver, and recalls many of the old manners and customs long forgotten and unknown to later generations. He married Joana W. Blake, daughter of Robert and Nancey Blake, and to them were born ten children, two sets of twins. His wife has been dead over 14 years. During the war he served in Company A. 7th W.Va. Regt. Inft. Vol and lost his right limb at Spottsylvania Court House on May 12, 1864, this being the same battle in which Col. J.H. Lockwood, who commanded the regiment was seriously wounded in the head.

From a Moundsville, W.Va. newspaper dated Monday Jan. 13, 1902
By George N. Fisher, September 30th, 1923

(2/25/99 - transcribed from typewritten page found in the papers of Genevieve Hostutler Walton.)


More on the article “History of the Grandstaff Family”

Submitted by Barbara Blake Goddard.

The following excerpts were copied from the original sources mentioned in the article - “History of the Early Settlement and Indian Wars of Western Virginia - An Account of the Various Expeditions in the West, Previous to 1795” by Wills De Hass (Published 1851, Wheeling, VA).

From the section titled “Whites Made Prisoner” (Chapter VI, p. 207)

"About the year 1758, a man by the name of John Stone, near what is called the White House, in the Hawksbill settlement, was killed by Indians. Stone's wife, with her infant child and a son about seven or eight years old, and George Grandstaff, a youth of sixteen years old, were taken prisoners. On the south-branch Mountain, the Indians murdered Mrs. Stone and her infant, but took the boy and Grandstaff to their towns. Grandstaff remained about three years a prisoner. The boy Stone grew up with the Indians, came home, and after obtaining possession of his father's property, sold it, got the money, returned to the Indians and was never heard of again."

From a section titled “Death of Grandstaff” ( Chapter VI, p. 236-37)

“Of those who followed the Wetzels, Bonnetts, Messers, and others, to the west and settled on Wheeling Creek, was man named Grandstaff. He improved the farm now owned by Mr. Buchanan, about three miles above the forks.
On the renewal of Indian hostilities (in 1777), Grandstaff removed his family to Shepherd’s fort. He was in the habit, however, of visiting his improvements almost daily, but returning to the fort in the evening.
In March of this year, Mr. G. went up to his farm, when a party of Indians, who had been lying in wait, shot and scalped him.”



Submitted by Barbara Blake Goddard.

One of the early settlers of what is now Sand Hill District, was a man by the name of Adam Grandstaff. He settled some time near that of Wetzel, Bonnett and Earliwine. His improvement was some distance from the creek and was about 3 miles from Shepherd's Fort, which was on Little Wheeling Creek near the Monument Bridge. After Indian hostilities commenced he removed his family to it (the fort), but went almost every day to his farm and spent the day at work. One day in March of 1787, he went to work in the morning as usual, clearing land and preparing to plant a spring crop.

There had not been any Indians seen in the neighborhood nor signs of them, yet most of the settlers were very careful and gave much attention to safety as well as to work. He went to his work that morning alone as was his custom, and spent the day at work and was returning home in the evening when he was shot and scalped by Indians who evidently had been watching for him.

The shot was heard and his failure to arrive at the Fort at the usual time, caused a fear that he had been murdered. A search was made and his body was found where he had been shot and scalped as he was returning home and was not more than a mile from the Fort.

From "The History of Marshall County (WV)" by Scott Powell (p. 36)