THOMAS FLORA OF ENGLAND — AN INTRODUCTION
|We have recently received permission from Gladys Donson to use parts of her introduction to her book, The Thomas Flora Family of London, Maryland, and Virginia, which she co-authored with her cousin Lawrence F. Athy in 1995. Thomas Flora, an indentured servant from England, was the father of probably at least eight sons and perhaps some unrecorded daughters. Neglected in Bunderman’s classic 1948 study of Flory families, Thomas Flora is finally being studied in depth, and Gladys Donson is one of his most enthusiastic and skilled researchers. Her book on Flora is out of print, and we are pleased to reprint sections of it here.|
OF MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA
AND HIS DESCENDANTS
This manuscript on the Flora/Florah/Flory family is the result of the combined research of many interested descendants of the various ancestors named herein. From those who have contributed much information, I will attempt to name at least a few but extend to all my thanks.
First, I owe a great deal to my distant cousin, and very dear friend, Lawrence F. Athy, Jr., of Houston, Texas. Larry has poured over microfilm of tax and land records, especially those of Hampshire/Morgan County in West Virginia, and generously shared everything with me. In addition, he has put together and typed by my handwritten notes and has offered encouragement, helpful criticism, and advice.
Among those who contributed information is David A. Helm, of Macomb, Illinois, a descendant of Deborah Flora Helm of Richmond County, Ohio. David was the first to discover the church and immigration records of the immigrant, Thomas Flora. The late J. Harold Florea shared the results of his Flora/Florea research with me along with much encouragement and advice. Elton N. Thompson of San Bernardino, California, has contributed much information on Albright and Ruth Florea and their descendants. Earl D. Tarvin of Melbourne, Kentucky, contributed most of the information on the family of Thomas and Deborah Flora Tarvin. Don Strong of Preston, Idaho, shared many land records involving the Flora/Floreas of Mason County, Kentucky, and southern Ohio.
The genealogy of this family is not “etched in stone.” Many of the conclusions are based on “circumstantial” evidence due to the lack of early records of birth, death, and marriage. Some of these conclusions may prove to be wrong when future genealogists uncover additional records. The information presented here is meant to be a guide, based on that gathered to date, and is not meant to be the “final word” on this family.
Corrections and additions are welcome and should be sent to :
13534 Beerbower Road
Bryan, Ohio 43506-9619
The origin of Thomas Flora (Born ca. 1735, died ca. 1811), who lived in Washington County, Maryland, and Hampshire County, (West) Virginia, seemed to be clouded in the mists of history. Attempts to place him in the family of Joseph Flora/Florey – an early Pennsylvania German immigrant who left many descendants in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia and who joined the westward migration to Ohio, Indiana, and points west – always came to a dead end.
Among family traditions in several lines of Thomas Flora’s descendants were suggestions that the Floras were of English descent which seemed to contradict the “Pennsylvania German” theory. Early maps of the Potomac region of Maryland showed a Thomas Flora/Florry located on the Maryland side of the Potomac, opposite Back Creek, as early as 1736. This date was too early for the Thomas Flora of Hampshire County, Virginia, but seemed about right for his father.
The first land record that seems to refer to the Thomas Flora of Hampshire County was for fifty acres bounded by Sideling Hill Creek and the Potomac River in what is now Washington County, Maryland, but was in Frederick County in 1760. In this document, Thomas is referred to as Thomas Flora, Jr., inferring that he was the son of a Thomas Flora or at least that there was an older Thomas in his family.
Land and Revolutionary War records of Washington County, Maryland, and Hampshire County, Virginia, show the names of James, Robert, William, John, and Jacob Flora. This circumstantial evidence seemed to point to the possibility that these men may have been brothers of Thomas Flora, Jr., and sons of the older Thomas Flora who was on the Potomac in 1736 and was still there into the 1750’s. And in addition several other important records were found.
One such record was discovered in A List of Immigrants from England to America 1718-1759, by Jack and Marion Kaminkow, 1964, page 79. “Flora, Thomas. St. Giles Cripplegate. (London) J.J. 5 years, Md. 17. Witness Penelope Flora. M. 1 Feb. 1719.” Translating these abbreviations, the entry reads: Thomas Flora, age 17, was indentured for 5 years, to be transported to Maryland, Captain John Larkin was the agent for the mother, on 1 Feb. 1719. Since the new year then began in March, Thomas may well not have been actually transported until early in 1720.
In Bonded Passengers to America, Vol. III, by Peter Wilson Coldham, Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., Baltimore, 1983, page 55, is found this entry: “Florie, Thomas, transported Oct. 1720 on the ship Gilbert. Landing Certificate issued at Annapolis (Maryland) in May, 1721, age 19, dark.” Darby Lux was the captain of the Gilbert. Since the Anne Arundel County, Maryland, land records of the early 1700’s show Darby Lux as a land owner, perhaps Thomas Flora served out his indenture for Darby Lux, ship captain and land owner.
The I.G.I. for London, England, was checked, and the following church records were found:
6 April 1698, James Flory married Penelope Davis, St. James (Church) Duke’s Place.
6 December 1702, Thomas, son of James Flurry and Penelope, was baptized in St. Sepulchre.
6 July 1701, James, son of James Flory and Penelope, was christened at St. Bride, Fleet Street. (Evidently this James died young as another son, also named James, was christened).
23 July 1714, James, son of James Flurry, was christened at St. Giles, Cripplegate.
Note how well these records match the indenture record of Thomas Flora. He was born in 1702, hence age 17 in 1719. his mother was “Penelope”; and at the time of his indenture he was living in the parish of St. Giles Cripplegate, where his younger brother James had been christened in 1714. There are many Flora/Flory/etc. records in London, some as early as the 1300’s.
No further records of the immigrant, Thomas Flora, had been found until Elton Thompson, a descendant of Albright Flora, found the following record:
|Anne Arundel County Maryland, Book IB#1 (Judgments), March Court, 1734, page 214. “The said Thomas Florey being summoned to appear this Court to show cause why he has not burnt tobacco according to Act of Assembly appears and confesses he has not burnt tobacco and submits to the judgment of the court to be fined according to law. Thereupon the court fines him twenty shillings, being a single tax, and he is ordered to give security for fines and fees. Thereupon Mr. Vachel Denton undertakes as security for the said Thomas Florey to pay the fines and fees in case Thomas Florey does not.”|
| By 1736 Thomas Florry was living on the upper Potomac in what is now Washington County, Maryland. This information comes from a map drawn by Peter Jefferson to show the location of settlers in the back country who would serve as a buffer between the Indians to the west and the more populated eastern seaboard. A later map, drawn in 1751, shows “Flora” in the same location.
Thomas Flora appears again in a petition in Orange County, Virginia Deed Books 1735-1738, Judgments 1735, compiled by John Frederick Dorman, Washington, D.C., 1961, page 103. This was a petition by the “residents of Opeckan and Shenandore” that the Rev. Mr. William Williams, “minister of the gospel,” might have two meeting places erected–one near his house, the other near the house of Mr. Morgan Bryan. Among the thirty petitioners was Thos. Flora. At that time Orange County Virginia, encompassed what is now Frederick County on the west. This first Thomas Flora may have owned land on both the Maryland and Virginia sides of the Potomac.
Among the last records found for Thomas Flora, one is in the notes of a surveyor, Guy Broadwater, who surveyed “Lotts upon Potomac River side from ye Warm Springs to Back Creek,” etc. in 1749.
“Thomas Flowre; 100 acres; Potomac; adj. Thomas Cherry, Sr..”
Thomas Flora is also mentioned as chain carrier with William Ambrous. These records are found in Abstracts of Virginia’s Northern Neck Warrants and Surveys 1697-1784, Vol. IV, compiled by Peggy Shomo Joyner, 1987, page 150.
This same book, on page 77, mentions William Flora, presumed brother of Thomas, Jr., as being a chain carrier with Thomas Wiggins for a 33 acre tract on the Potomac–surveyed 1766-67 for Joseph Bennett and assigned to Philip Wiggins in 1773 (Hampshire County, Virginia).
There are many records involving the Wiggins and Flora families, even after the descendants of both families had moved to Kentucky. Such records seem to suggest that there may have been a relationship of some kind, but so far this relationship has not been proven.
Thomas Flora “the first” probably died sometime after 1760 since at that date Thomas Flora of Hampshire (Morgan) County still referred to himself as Thomas, Junior. Exactly when the elder Thomas died, who his wife was, and who his children were, are still unknown. “Circumstantial evidence” indicates who some of his sons might have been; however, there may have been other sons and probably some daughters about whom we know nothing now (1993).”
The probable children of Thomas Flora, the emigrant of 1720/21, are James, Robert, William, Iaac, John, Thomas (Jr.), Albright, and Jacob.
(1) JAMES. Probably born late 1720’s; took the Oath of Allegiance to Washington County, Maryland, in 1778; moved to Washington County, Virginia, by 1782. In Abstracts of Virginia’s Northern Neck Warrants and Surveys 1747-1780, Vol. II, compiled by Peggy Shomo Joyner, page 32, there is a land record of “Aron Cherry, devisee of Thomas Cherry, Sen’r., assignee of Thomas and James Florry; 20 Sept. 1750-13 Nov. 1750; 136 A. joining the Long Ridge on Cherry Branch; adjoining Thomas Cherry. Chain carriers were Thomas (also the pilot) and Robert Florry. Surveyor, John Mauzy.” “13 July 1751: Bill of Sale from Thomas and James Floree. (Signed by their marks.) Wit: Wm. Thompson, Margaret Johnson, Nicklus Johnson.” This transaction was in what was then Frederick County, Virginia. Same page from same source: “Thomas Cherry, no warrant, date from survey, 21 Sept. 1750-13 Nov. 1750; 400 A. on head branch of Cherry’s Branch; adjoining James Florry. Chain carriers, Thomas Florry and Thomas Andrews. Pilot, Thomas Cherry. Surveyor, John Mauzy.”
Since James Flora (etc.) was old enough to own land in 1750, he must have been born by the late 1720’s. Note: Could Margaret and Nicklus Johnson have been a daughter and son-in-law of Thomas Flora (the first)?? Nothing further is known of James and his family.
(2) ROBERT. Born ca. 1730; served as chain carrier for surveyor in Hampshire County, Va. (see above); took Oath of Allegiance in Washington County, Maryland, in 1778; bought “Flora’s Choice” from Thomas Flora, Jr., on 24 August 1773. Thomas signed with his mark (T). See Frederick County, Maryland, Land Records, Book U, pages 1-3. Robert also bought land in Frederick County, Maryland, from Benjamin Sweet on 6 November 1773. on 11 June 1784, Robert Flora patented 4 1/2 acres called “The Four Boys” in Washington County. See Washington County, Maryland, Land Patents, page 50. (Washington County was formed from Frederick County in 1778.)
On 26 Sept. 1787 Robert Flora, or his son Robert Flora, Jr., sold “Tucking Hill,” bounded by the Potomac River and by “Flora’s Choice,” to Patrick O’Ferrell of Washington County, Maryland. Robert Flora was “of Pennsylvania, western waters.” He was evidently on his way to Kentucky at that time since he showed up in Mason County, Kentucky, in 1788.
Robert Flora, either Senior or Junior, owned land in Hampshire County, Virginia, near his presumed brother, Thomas Flora, Jr., as is evidenced by the following deed: “Lewis Throckmorton was granted 75 acres near the Potomac on Sideling Hill, adjoining Robert Flora.” See Patents and Grants, Virginia State Land Office, Book U, Hampshire County, page 429.
Land records indicate that both Thomas Flora (II) and George Tarwin were neighbors of Lewis Throckmorton in Hampshire County, Virginia. Deeds record the sale of 37 1/2 acres of land by Lewis Throckmorton to Thomas Flora, both of Hampshire County, on 13 April 1795. Jacob Flora and Jacob and Mary Christian were witnesses. See Early Records of Hampshire County, Va., by Sage and Jones, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1976, page 57.
Records abound of Robert Flora and his probable sons, Robert, Jr., James,. John, and Thomas after 1788 in Mason County, Kentucky. This later Thomas Flora was killed by Indians at Flora’s station in 1788 according to the Draper Manuscripts. Flora’s Station was located near the present day town of Washington – near Maysville, Ky. – and later was known as Shannon’s Station.
Daniel Flora, James Flora, and David Flora are in the pre-1800 records of Mason and Bracken Counties, Ky. They are probably sons or grandsons of Robert Flora, Sr. All are involved with each other in land records, serving as witnesses or bondsmen, and certainly are related to each other; however, it is unclear as to whether the wife of Robert, Sr., or Robert, Jr., was named Charity. No will has ever been found for Robert Flora, Sr., who must have died around 1800 in Kentucky.
(3) WILLIAM. Born ca. 1730. He was first mentioned in Pennsylvania Germans in Maryland, by Daniel W. Nead, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980, pages 161-162: “Two companies of volunteer riflemen formed (to go against the Indians in Ohio), in Frederick Co., Maryland, in 1764.” Isaac Flora and William Flora were on the list.
According to the National Archives, William Flora enlisted 22 Nov. 1776, in Lieutenant Colonel James Innes’ Company of the 15th Virginia Regiment, Continental Line. Pay was 6 2/3 dollars per month. He was discharged at the end of three years service, 22 Nov. 1779.
He was listed in the Virginia Tax List of 1782 (1790 Census of Virginia): William Flora of Hampshire Co., Va.: seven in family; same assessor’s returns as for Thomas Flora, Jr. He was also listed in the Virginia Tax List of 1784: William Flora in Hampshire Co., Va.: seven in family, 1 house; 1 other building; same assessor as for Thomas Flora.
The following are from The Early Records of Hampshire County, Virginia (now West Virginia), by Sage and Jones, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1976.
1789: William Flora witnessed land sale in Hampshire County, Virginia, of Thomas Wiggins to Philip Wiggins; other witnesses were Archibald Wiggins, Francis Harvey, and Mary Wiggins; land was 100 acres on the Potomac.
1790 (Dec. 14): Land sale, Archibald Wiggins, wife Mary, to Thomas Williams; both of Hampshire County, Virginia; 63 acres on Cacapon River; witnesses were William Florane, G. Creamer, and Cornelius Ferrel (also spelled Ferree).
1804: William Florence (?) was granted 200 acres of Fairfax lands on Cabin Run (This is the last record that possibly refers to William Flora (?) in Hampshire County, Va.)
From a Mormon Film of Probate Records of Hampshire County, Virginia: William Flora and John Flora bound out to learn a trade, Sept. 10, 1789. (No father is mentioned, but these would seem to be the children or grandchildren of William Flora, Revolutionary soldier).
(4) ISAAC. Born ca. 1730. We have no records of Isaac except that he appears with William as a Ranger in the French and Indian Wars. Since the name Isaac appears often among the descendants of the other probable brothers, it seems reasonable to assume that the Isaac, old enough to be a Ranger in the French and Indian Wars, was also the son of Thomas Flora the first. He probably died shortly after the French and Indian Wars or migrated out of the Virginia/Maryland area shortly thereafter.
(5) JOHN. Born 1730-40. That Thomas Flora the first had a son, John, is probably true; however, many of the following records may have applied to a grandson.
A John Flora appears with James Flora on a list of men who took the “Oath of Fidelity” to Maryland while living in Linton or Frederick Hundred in Washington County in 1778. See Revolutionary Records of Maryland, by Gaius M. Brumbaugh and M.R. Hodges, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1967, 1978.
The following are from Western Maryland Newspaper Abstracts, Vols. I and II, by F. Edward Wright, Family Line Publications, 1985 and 1986: A John Flora had an ad in The Maryland Chronicle, 18 Jan. 1786, warning people not to buy three bonds taken from him by Jonathan Hamelton; a John Fore (?) offered a reward for a stray cow in the Frederick – Town Weekly Advertiser, 16 May 1793; in the Elizabeth – Town Advertiser of Sept., 1802, John Flora gave notice that the woman who has “for many years lived with me, and may call herself Mary Flora . . . give notice to the public not to credit her on my account”; several times from 1799 to 1801, John Flora (or Florey) had a letter at the Post Office; on 18 Sept. 1800, John Florey was a member of the Committee of the 3rd Election District, Washington County, Maryland; on 30 Nov. 1804, John Flora, about 8 miles from Hagerstown and 2 1/2 miles form Major John Baird’s store, offered a reward for a runaway negro woman, Fanny, 18-20 years, 5 ft. 2-3 in., slender build, purchased about the first of this month of Abraham Karns. She was raised near Cecil Iron Works, Maryland.
The will of John Flora is found in the Washington County, Maryland, Will Book B, page 279. He mentions Elizabeth, the daughter of Eve Andreos (Andrews, Anderson?), deceased. Elizabeth is apparently a granddaughter. Then he names his children – Jacob, John, Mary, Catharine, Nancy, and Elizabeth. Jacob and John had already received a portion of their inheritances during their father’s lifetime. Daughter Catherine (“Caty”) was to have the use of her share during her life; but, at her death, it was to be divided among her children in equal shares. John Flora appointed his “trusted friend,” Jacob Lambert, to be his executor. His will was dated 11 Feb. 1810 and proved 10 March 1810. In the distribution of his estate to the daughters names were given as Mary Keirman, Catherine Hutcheson, and Elizabeth McKain. Daughter Nancy was apparently still unmarried.
According to Washington County, Maryland, Marriages 1799-1860, by Morrow, Dale, and Delorale, published by Traces, 1982, Mary Flora married Peter Keirnan 24 June 1803; and Elizabeth Flora married John McKain 6 Dec. 1806. There is no listing of a Catherine Flora/Hutcheson marriage. Perhaps Catherine had married before 1799.
(6) JACOB. A Jacob Flora received a Maryland Bounty Land Grant #11204 for service in the Revolution as a private (probably in the Militia). He received the grant for 100 acres on 24 Dec.1791. See Maryland Revolutionary Records, by Harry Wright Newman, Jeanne Robey Felldin Publications, Tomball, Texas, 1978.
A Jacob Flora bought land in Frederick County, Maryland, 22 May 1766 and sold land there 25 May 1782. See Frederick County, Maryland, Land Records, Book K, page 511, and Book WR 4, page 60.
On 13 April 1795 Jacob Flora witnessed the land sale of 37 1/2 acres from Lewis Throckmorton to (8) Thomas Flora of Hampshire County, Virginia. Jacob and Mary Chrisman were also witnesses. See listing under (8) Thomas Flora, Jr.
These are the only records of this Jacob Flora in the Maryland/Virginia area; however, on 2 June 1795 a Jacob Flora is taxed in Lincoln County, Kentucky. See Early Kentucky Householders (Lincoln County) 1787-1811, by James F. Sutherland, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1986. Whether this is the same Jacob is unknown. There is also the possibility that this could be Jacob, son of (5) John Flora, who died in Maryland in 1810 and who was therefore a nephew of (8) Thomas Flora of Hampshire County rather than a brother.
(7) ALBRIGHT. Born 1750-1755. Where Albright fits into this Flora family has not been ascertained. He could be a younger son of Thomas, the immigrant. It is more likely that he is Thomas’ grandson, possibly a son of (4) Isaac. Isaac, probably a son of Thomas the immigrant, was old enough in 1763 to be a Ranger in the French and Indian Wars; however, nothing is known of his whereabouts after that.
Albright first appears on the Census of Frederick County, Maryland, in 1790. This census fits the known family of Albright. One male 16 + == Albright; three males under 16 = his three sons born before 1790; and five females includes his wife, Ruth, plus his four daughters born before 1790.
In 1792 Albright bought a 286 acre tract of land called Foxes Choice in Frederick County, Maryland, as recorded in the Maryland Hall of Records Patents IC#H, pages 653-654. In 1795 and 1796 Albright sold this land in four parcels. See Frederick County, Maryland, Land Records, Book NR 13, pages 478, 493, and 494, and Book NR4, page 138. In one of the sales, his wife is identified as “Ruth.” An Ohio land sale, some twenty years later, also identified his wife as “Ruthie.”
Shortly after selling Foxes Choice, Albright moved to Kentucky, where he appears on the tax records of Mason County in 1800. This is in the same area where (2) Robert Flora and his sons settled about ten years earlier. About the same time, Abijah Flora, son of (8) Thomas Flora, of Hampshire County, Va.- also appears in Mason County. All three came from the same area in Maryland/Virginia and settled in the same area during a ten year time span. There is little question that all three were related. Albright’s three oldest daughters, Elizabeth, Nancy, and Rebecca, were all married in Kentucky. It was during these Kentucky years that the spelling Florea began to be used by Albright and his family.
By 1810 Albright had moved with his wife and younger children to Adams County, Ohio, where he appears on the tax list for that year. He probably had been living in Adams County for several years since his daughter, Mary, had been married there in 1808. Albright and Ruth Florea died in Adams County, Ohio, between 1820-1830.
The following information on the children of Albright and Ruth Florea was supplied by J. Harold Florea of Mount Morris, Illinois, the “dean” of Florea researchers. Harold and his parents Charles E. and Louella Florea (both Florea descendants) researched the family throughout their lifetimes. Much information on Albright Florea’s descendants has been compiled in the 75th Anniversary Book, Peterson, Storer, Florea Reunion 1909-1983, Vols. I & II, compiled by Fred Gaston, 1985.
(8) THOMAS, JR. Born 1735-1736 according to a deposition made in Allegany County (Maryland) Court in which he stated in October of 1805 that he was aged around 69 years. See Allegany County Maryland Records, Book D, page 437.
From Early Allegany County (Maryland) Records, Vol. I., compiled by Margaret Curst and Helen Straw, Cresap Chapter, DAR, 1964, page 53, it is learned that Thomas Flora’s wife was named Prudence and that he and his wife were Dunkard Baptists. In this deposition they swore that in their presence on 18 Oct. 1790 William Biggerstaff asked John Puraley (Percell?) if he wished his estate to be given to his housekeeper, Jean Flora; and he answered “yes.” In subsequent records of the administration of John Puraley’s estate, his name is spelled Percell/Persall and Jean Flora is referred to as “Jane.” It is not now known who Jean/Jane Flora was. Thomas and Prudence had no daughters by that name unless it is an unknown middle name.
Thomas Flora, Jr., is named in a land record of Frederick County, Maryland, when he was assigned fifty acres of land “by virtue of an assignment of a warrant . . . from Thomas Mills . . .” the tract was called “Flora’s Choice” and was bounded by the Potomac River about two miles below the mouth of the Sideling Hill Creek. This description places this tract in the western-most part of present day Washington County, Maryland, then in Frederick County. This transaction was dated 2 Feb. 1761. See Land Records, Vols. BC & GS #22, Maryland Hall of Records, pages 296-301. This part of western Maryland was devastated by the Indians during the French and Indian Wards, 1754-1763. Thomas sold this tract to Robert Flora on 24 August 1773. See Frederick County, Maryland, Land Records, Book U, pages 1-3.
On 9 June 1770, Thomas “Flowers” of Frederick County, Maryland, received a patent of forty acres called “Better Than Mount Misery.” See Land Office Patents BC & GS 48, pages 34 and 35. Thomas Flora and his family were in Hampshire County, Virginia, by 1782 when he is on the Virginia tax records. Early maps of Morgan County, Virginia, show “Flora’s Mills” on the Potomac River just west of the present day town of Paw Paw. Morgan County was organized from Hampshire and Berkeley Counties, Virginia (now West Virginia), in 1820. According to Morgan County historians, “Flora’s Mills” were saw mills powered by the waters of the Potomac River. Some descendants of Thomas Flora continue to live in this area after more than two hundred years. To date land records have not been found in Hampshire County for Thomas Flora for the years 1770-1782, but several land transactions have been found after 1782.
Lewis Throckmorton conveyed 37 1/2 acres to Thomas Flora, both of Hampshire County, Virginia, as recorded 13 April 1795. Witnesses were Jacob Flora, Jacob Chrisman, and Mary Chrisman. See Hampshire County, Virginia, Deed Book 12, page 217. The last two witnesses were daughter and son of Thomas. Margaret Flora married Basil Athy; and their first child, Elijah, was born 2 October 1802. Therefore, this record pinpoints Margaret’s marriage date as no earlier than 27 September 1800 and probably no later than January 1802.
In June of 1782, Thomas Flora was taxed on 110 acres in Hampshire County, Virginia. See Hampshire County, Virginia, Land Book, 1782-1797, State Auditor’s Office, Charleston, West Virginia. By 1796, Thomas Flora was taxed on 110 acres and 17 1/2 acres. In 1801 he was taxed on 110, 37 1/2, and 91 acres. By 1809 the 91 acres had been dropped from the Flora tax record.
From Land Records of Allegany County, Maryland, Book D., page 437, 25 October 1805: “Samuel Osman of Allegany County, having lost his original deed to a tract of land in Allegany County known as “Linns Purchase,” asks a commission consisting of Orvil McCracken, William Sherecliff, James Tidball, Jennings Beckwith, and John Devilbliss of Allegany County to cause a resurvey on said land with sworn wittness to testify as to boundary lines. The witnesses were: John Weatherington of Hampshire County, Va. (W. Va.), who swore that as a hired man to William Lynn, former owner of “Linn’s Purchase,” he could point out a boundary. Ignatius Bevins of Allegany County, Maryland, swore that about 18 years ago he was at the house of Charles Hettrick with Thomas Darnel and at that time was shown a boundary. Thomas Flora of Hampshire County, Va. (W.Va.), aged about 69 years, swore that about 34 years ago one See (Lee?) employed him and one John McDonald to carry the chain for a survey and that he could point out a boundary. Advertisements were placed on the door of the Allegany Court House and at Joseph Clarkes, Basil Bevins and Samuel Osmans announcing the meeting for marking the boundary of “Linn’s Purchase.”
Thomas Flora appears on the 1810 Hampshire County, Virginia, Census. He must have died ca. 1811-1812 as 1811 was the last year in which taxes were paid in his name. In 1812 Thomas Flora’s heirs paid tax on 110 and 37 1/2 acres “adjoining Eleanor McDonald” on the Potomac River. These tax records continue through 1819.
In 1820 Morgan County was established from Hampshire and Berkeley Counties, but the county lines dividing Hampshire and Berkeley Counties were not established until a year or two later.
In 1822 Prudence “Flower” paid taxes in Morgan County, Virginia, on 137 acres (10 acres missing?), 13 miles west of Bath (Berkeley Springs). The land was valued at $15 per acre; buildings were valued at $200; total valuation was $2,055; and tax was $1.85. Prudence Flora/Flower/Flourer continued to pay taxes on the above tract(s) through 1839, but the distance from Bath was corrected to 16 miles southwest of Bath (Bath now called Berkeley Springs).
Starting in 1840, the same tract was listed as owned by the “eleven heirs” of Thomas Flora.” On the 1830 census the home of Absalom Flora had a female listed as 80-90 years of age. It can be concluded from these records that Prudence Flora, wife of Thomas, died in 1839 or 1840 at nearly 100 years of age.
Between 1840 and 1870, Absalom Kesler, son of Rachel Kesler, daughter of Thomas and Prudence Flora, acquired all of the 1/11 shares of the heirs of Thomas Flora as in demonstrated in the following records.
From Morgan Co. Order Book, Vol. 2, April Term of Court, pages 226 & 227: The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad applied to the court of Morgan County “for the appointment of commissioners to assess the damages . . . sustained by the landowners hereinafter named,” followed by groupings of landowners who lived near each other and the date when the commissioners would view the land to determine the amount of damages done by the construction of the railroad. Once such group named these Floras: Basil Athy and wife, Abijah Flora; Absalom Flora; Archibald Flora; Isaac Flora; heirs of Joseph Flora (Joseph died in 1833 in Richland County, Ohio, per his will, leaving his wife Rachel and children Deborah; Susan; Catherine; Alexander N.; Archibald Flora; and Nancy Flora ( wife of John Kline); Philip Hartley and wife; Rachel Kesler; Thomas Tarvin and wife; and Sarah Warfield. Viewing date set at 18 May 1839. This list seems to include ten of the eleven heirs of Thomas Flora. For some unaccountable reason, in the advertisement of the Martinsburg Gazette of Feb. 20, 1839, page 2, column 6, which preceded the court hearings the names of Ann Smith and husband Jacob are omitted but are in a later land record where they conveyed their share of Thomas Flora’s estate to Absalom Kesler. Adding Ann Smith to the above list completes it to the “eleven heirs of Thomas Flora.”
From Morgan County Will Book I: Will of Absalom Flora, dated 27 Dec. 1839, proved and recorded 24 Feb. 1840. Leaves $50 to William J. Flora when he reaches age 17 (Probably Japer Flora of later records). Bequeaths equal shares after the $50 to his sister, Rachel Kesler; brother, Archibald; sister Ann Smith; and niece, Mary Flora (this would be Isaac’s daughter). Absalom Kesler was one of the witnesses.
From Morgan County Deeds, Vol 3, page 216, 11 Oct. 1841: Thomas Tarvin and Deborah, his wife, of Campbell Co., KY, for $40 paid in hand, convey an undivided tract of land of the estate of Thomas Flora . . . to Adam Kesler . . . etc.
The Commonwealth of Thomas Tarvin
Kentucky, Campbell Co. Deborah Tarvin (both signed)
From Morgan County Deed Book 3, pages 409-411, 18 Dec. 1843: Samuel Stump conveyed the 1/11 share in Thomas Flora’s estate belonging to Basil Athy and his wife Margaret, “daughter of Thomas Flora, deceased,” to Absalom Kesler. This was in settlement of a note given by Basil Athy and wife in 1825 in which they gave as security their shares in the estates of John Athy, father of Basil, and Thomas Flora, father of Margaret.
From Morgan County Deed Book I, page 152, 24 Dec. 1843: Rachel Kesler, formerly Rachel Flora, daughter of Thomas Flora, . . . assigns . . . her right and title to said lands of Thomas Flora to Absalom Kesler, also her right to 1/4 of 88 acres, . . . her portion in Absalom Flora’s Will.
Rachel X Kessler
From Morgan County Deed Book 4, page 399, 25 June 1847: Jacob Smith and Ann his wife sold to Absalom Kessler their 1/11 part of two tracts of land Thomas Flora died seized of, the said Ann being a daughter and one of the eleven legal heirs of Thomas Flora deceased, and the said Ann, being a sister to Absalom Flora, who made a will . . . convey to Absalom Kesler her 1/4 share in 88 1/4 acres, etc.
Jacob X Smith
From Morgan County Deed Book 4, page 442, 25 Oct. 1847: William Thompson (Sheriff of Morgan County) sold at the door of the courthouse the property of William Harmison (Evidently for unpaid taxes). Harmison’s property consisted of (among others) one fourth part of 88 1/2 acres of land conveyed to him by Mary Flora, together with her interest in the lands of Thomas Flora deceased. In an earlier deed, dated 25 Feb. 1846, William Harmison is named as the buyer of the above land sold to him by Mary Flora, who identified herself as the only child of Isaac Flora, deceased. She conveyed to Harmison the 1 /11 share of her father in the estate of Thomas Flora, and the 1/4 interest in the 88 1/4 acres given her by the will of Absalom Flora, deceased. (She is named as Absalom Flora’s niece in his will.)
By 1850 these shares of Thomas Flora’s estate had been sold: Deborah Tarvin, Margaret Athy, Isaac Flora (by his daughter Mary), Ann Smith and Rachel Kesler – all bought by Rachel Kesler’s son Absalom Kesler. Six shares then remained unsold, designated on the tax books as “6/11 of the two tracts of land of the estate of Thomas Flora.” It is so designated until 1870 when it disappears from the tax books. In 1865 “paid by Absalom Kesler” is scrawled across the tax entry. Very likely Absalom Kesler acquired the last 6/11 of the land by paying taxes due on it. The six shares so lost would have been those of : Archibald’s (dead by 1850), Absalom’s (dead by 1840), Sarah Warfield’s, Abijah’s (dead by 1840), Ruth Hartley’s (disappeared from census and probably dead by 1850), and Joseph’s (dead by 1833). So little would have come to each heir of those six, it probably was not worthwhile for them to take the legal steps to claim their shares. Thus, after 60 years, Thomas Flora’s estate finally came to a close.
Thomas and Prudence Flora’s children were (probably not in order of birth): Abijah, married Margaret ______; Isaac, married (?); Joseph, married Rachel _______; Deborah, married Thomas Tarvin; Rachel, married John Kesler; Sarah, married Sylvester (or Sylvanus) Warfield; Ruth, married Philip Hartley; Margaret, married Basil Athy; Ann, married Jacob Smith; Archibald, married Barbara Hardy; and Absalom.