Gen. Griffith Rutherford

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Griffith's Roots - Putting the Pieces Together - by Gary Rutherford Harding

The descendants of Griffith Rutherford have privately published two family histories over the years which have quite different views of Griffith’s ancestry: "General Griffith Rutherford and Allied Families" by Minnie R.H. Long Wisconsin Cueno Press, Milwaukee, WI 1942 "The Gathering of the Clans" by Edna Rutherford Davey Part I - "The Rutherford Story" Published Privately 1955-1957 Griffith’s Ancestry Previously, I have posted side by side “position papers” advocating the views of both works. Simply stated, Minnie R.H. Long puts forward a claim that Griffith descends from the Rutherfurds of Edgerston and Edna Rutherford Davey claims that he was from the Hunthill cadet. It has become clear over the years that Edna Rutherford Davey was correct. Minnie R.H. Long’s theory that he was the son of Sir John Rutherfurd of Edgerston cannot be supported for a number of reasons. With all due respect to both authors, it’s up to the reader to decide. These two works are difficult to find and totally wanting in their Scottish research. However, from Griffith’s children onward they are soundly written and well documented. Minnie Long’s work is exceptional in her Revolutionary War record for General Griffith Rutherford and its connections with the Grahams, Lockes Catheys and other collateral lines. See a discussion below on Davey and Long's genealogies.

The ancestry of Griffith Rutherford and his connection to James Rutherford of Cub Creek, VA, James Rutherford of Walker’s Creek, VA, Katherine Rutherford of Wigtown, Scotland and Thomas Rutherford of Paxtang, PA demonstrate a common lineage from Captain James Rutherford of Utrecht, brother of Rev. Samuel Rutherford.

Early Life in New Jersey, Cub Creek, VA and North Carolina

John Rutherford [Griffith Rutherford's father]

died: circa 1721 at sea

married in Ireland to Elizabeth Griffith

Griffith Rutherford's mother: Elizabeth Griffith

died: circa 1721 at sea

 .......

General Griffith Rutherford

b. 1721 Ireland

d. 8/10/1805, Sumner, TN

General Griffith Rutherford was born in Ireland in the year 1721, and, when he was still an infant, his parents set out for America. Both died on the voyage, and according to his son, Henry Rutherford, he was raised by his relatives the Rutherfords in New Jersey. He received a respectable education and became a skilled surveyor. [Extracted from an interview of Lyman C. Draper with Griffith’s son Henry Rutherford in 1844 – original MS. University of Wisconsin Library]

Cub Creek, Virginia – The Caldwell Settlement

The details of Griffith’s early life are not well documented. More often than not, his biographies begin in Halifax Co., NC but Griffith Rutherford first appears in the documented record as a resident of Lunenburg County, VA [now Charlotte Co., VA]. In 1748 and 1749 he appears on the tithing rolls as living at Cub Creek aka “the Caldwell Settlement”. He lived as a close neighbor to his cousin James Rutherford and James' son William, as well as, his relatives from the Weakley family. Griffith was single and about 27/28 years old at this time. [A List of Tithables for 1748 and 1749 taken by William Caldwell – “Lists of Tithes 1748-1751 in Lunenburg Co, VA”]

It should be noted that the 1748 and 1749 Lunenburg Tithables are the only documents where Griffith Rutherford’s name appears with any other Rutherford except for his own immediate family. He appears with our James and William Rutherford and also with members of the Weakley and Pickens family who also had Rutherford connections.

1750 - Lunenburg County, Virginia, Will Book No. 1 with Inventories, Accounts, Etc, 1746-1762, page 26 - The estate of Thomas Caldwell, deceased. To cash paid: Griffith Rutherford, William Caldwell for cart wheels Balance: 24.9.5. Per Court order, we have settled this account. Aug 3, 1750 - Thomas Bouldin and Abraham Martin. Recorded Oct 3, 1750.

In 1751 his name appears on a deed transfer of one acre of land for a cemetery – William Caldwell. At this time, he was associated with William Weakley of Lunenburg County, VA., having witnessed his will on September 23, 1752.

Griffith later came to North Carolina influenced by the good climate, soil and relative peacefulness of the Catawba Indians. Another factor which encouraged his migration to North Carolina was the laxity of North Carolina laws in comparison with those of Virginia on the subject of religion. In this way, Griffith and other Scots-Irish passed through the vacant lands in Virginia and made homes for themselves in western North Carolina. As early as 1740, a few families were already located on the Hico, Eno, and Haw rivers in the territory just east of Rowan. By the year 1745, the Scots-Irish had established themselves in the fertile and well-watered area between the Yadkin and the Catawba. Previous to 1750 their settlements were scattered throughout the region from Virginia to Georgia. The Scots-Irish settled mainly in the country west of the Yadkin. Among these emigrants were Griffith's near kin and friends; the Davidsons, Catheys, Moores, Pickens and Rutherfords - all religious dissenters.

Griffith Rutherford’s wife and family

Elizabeth Graham was the daughter of James Graham, born 1670 in Inverary Argyllshire Scotland. He had moved to Ulster after 1695 and then emigrated to America in the early 1700s. James Graham settled in Paxton [Paxtang] Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where his wife died. His family then made a series of moves south to cheaper land, through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, finally settling between 1733 and 1747 in Anson/Rowan County, North Carolina. James Graham received a land grant from the Earl of Granville 10-20 miles from Salisbury, North Carolina in the "Irish Settlement" of the Yadkin River Valley. He died February 1, 1758 and is buried in the Thyatira Presbyterian Churchyard near Salisbury, NC. [Thyatira Presbyterian Church Graveyard - The Carolina Genealogist Summer, 1972 No. 11 - Pages 1-10, County Records, Rowan County Cemeteries, Millbridge, N.C.]

Before 1753 Griffith Rutherford moved to Halifax County, North Carolina, where he was appointed King's Surveyor. Griffith Rutherford resided west of Salisbury, in the Locke settlement, and actively participated in the internal government of the county, associated with such early and distinguished patriots as Moses Winslow, Alexander Osborn, Samuel Young, John Brevard, James Brandon, William Sharpe, Francis McCorkle, and others. [“Gilbert Town: Its Place in North Carolina and Revolutionary War History” by Nancy Ellen Ferguson, Rutherford County Historian]

William Pickens paid tithes in Lunenburg Co. VA. in 1749 – Cub Creek. He moved to NC and on May 17, 1754 he received a Crown grant of 408 acres in Anson Co. N.C. with Griffith Rutherford. Received a second grant with Griffith Rutherford on Oct. 3, 1755.

Griffith Rutherford, 700 Acres, Grant No. 187, Issued April 6, 1753, Rowan Book No. 2, Page 45 - No. 143 - Location: Upon the E side of Catawba River, near both sides of Twelve Mile Creek.

Griffith became a wealthy farmer and married Elizabeth Graham in 1754. They had 10 children. One of Griffith’s daughters, Jane, married Capt. James Cathey, the son of John Cathey and Elizabeth Pickney. His daughter Blanche married Francis Locke of Rowan Co NC. Another close relative was Capt. William Moore, the "first white man to settle west of the Blue Ridge". Capt. Moore has been claimed to be Griffith Rutherford’s brother-in-law, meaning Griffith had an undocumented sister? [History of Western North Carolina - Chapter V - Revolutionary Days by John Preston Arthur, 1914]



Griffith's children:

1 - Jane Rutherford b. 1756 d. abt 1844 Maury TN


2 - James Rutherford b. abt 1758 d. 9/8/1781, Battle of Eutaw Spring, SC


3 - Blanche Rutherford b. abt 1760 d. abt 1844

4 - Margaret Rutherford b. abt 1765 d. about 6/1827 Dyer, TN


5 - Alfred Rutherford b. abt 1767 d. about 1844

 6 - Newton Rutherford b. abt 1770 d. about 1814 Cocke, TN

7 - Elizabeth Rutherford b. abt 1772 d. about 1844

8 - John Rutherford b. 3/13/1774 d. 9/8/1835 Dyer Co. TN

9 - Griffith Weakley Rutherford b. abt 1775 d. 11/11/1846 Wilson Co. TN

 10 - Henry Rutherford b. abt 8/17/1782 d. 5/20/1847 Key Corner, Dyer TN

A tax list was found between the walls of the old courthouse by Wm. D. Kizziah, Register of Deeds. When found, it was but scraps of paper, but was fitted together and transcribed by him. This list was made before Rowan Co, NC was divided into other counties and is the oldest tax list ever found in Rowan Co, NC. The list includes Griffith Rutherford along with Brandons, Catheys, Grahams and other extended family members. [1759 Rowan County Tax List - Rowan County Library, Salisbury, NC]

Political Life in North Carolina

North Carolina Assembly:

1766-1768 - John Frohock and Griffith Rutherford

1769 - Griffith Rutherford and Christopher Nation

1770-1771 - Griffith Rutherford and Matthew Locke

1773 - Matthew Locke and Griffith Rutherford

1773-1774 - Griffith Rutherford and Matthew Locke

1775 - Griffith Rutherford and Matthew Locke

Provincial Congress:

August, 1774 - Moses Winslow and Samuel Young.

April, 1775 - Griffith Rutherford, William Sharpe, and William Kennon.

On Oct. 19, 1768, Reuben Simpson and his wife, Sarah Sherrill, deeded this same 72 acres to Griffith Rutherford. In Lincoln County, NC, Reuben entered 640 acres of land on the Beaver Dam Branch, Oct. 11, 1783. There is a branch on the west side of the Catawba River about 5 miles above Granville's old line, which is called Beaver Dam Branch.

In January, 1771, Griffith Rutherford, a member of the Assembly from Rowan, introduced a bill for ascertaining the boundary line between Rowan and the counties of Mecklenburg and Tryon, which lay to the south. This measure was expedient because the settlers on the borders of the three counties refused to pay their taxes in any of them. Lord Granville's line had never been surveyed so far westward. Thomas Neal, Thomas Polk, Matthew Locke, Griffith Rutherford, and Peter Johnston were appointed to run the line, and the inferior courts of the three counties were authorized to levy a tax sufficient to defray the expense. [Colonial Records of North Carolina, State Records of North Carolina, XXIII, 841-842.]

In 1771, Griffith Rutherford supported efforts aimed at restricting the Anglican Church, introducing a bill allowing any minister to perform marriages. At the time, only marriages performed by Anglican clergy were legal. Since few Anglican ministers served in the counties west of the tidewater, the result was that many couples were not legally married and their children technically illegitimate. This was a source of both anguish and potential legal troubles.

In April, 1775, the delegates from Rowan to the Provincial Congress of NC were Griffith Rutherford, William Sharpe and William Kennon. William Kennon had also lived at Cub Creek, VA. On April 26th, 1776, Rowan sent Rutherford Griffith and Matthew Locke as delegates to the NC Provincial Congress. At this assembly Griffith Rutherford was appointed Brigadier General of the Salisbury District; Francis Locke, Colonel of Rowan; Alexander Dobbins, Lieutenant Colonel; James Brandon, 1st Major; James Smith, 2d Major.

He represented Rowan county in the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax on the 4th of April, 1776, and during this session he received the appointment of Brigadier General of the "Salisbury District." Near the close of the summer of 1776, he raised and commanded an army of two thousand four hundred men against the Cherokee Indians. On November 12th, 1776, which formed the first Constitution, the delegates were Griffith Rutherford, Matthew Locke, William Sharpe, James Smith and John Brevard.

Land Records

These transactions show that even during the Revolution itself Griffith remained active in western North Carolina land purchases:

Robert Woods, a carpenter, will dated 8 Sept 1763, probated 1766 - Mentions mother, not named, Uncle Samuel Woods and Aunt Sarah Woods. [This Samuel Woods was probably the brother of Matthew Woods and Oliver Woods.] Uncle Archibald Wasson Cousins Jan McCulloh , James McCulloh, Elizabeth, Ruth, Margaret, Sarah, and Mary Woods. Brother Benjamin. Sister Jane.

Wit: Griffith Rutherford and Sarah Woods.

....... 

General Griffith Rutherford entered 200 acres on south side of Muddy Creek, NC on lower of 3 creeks by Plumb Branch in 1778.

........

Rowan County, NC Records - Book 9 page 106: on Sept. 13, 1779, John Cochran, a planter of Rowan County, NC, lets Nichlis Bever have a tract on both sides of Cold Water Creek "the waters of Rockey River, joyning James Woods & Andrew Cochran", 250 acres beginning on the east side, for 2000 pounds NC money, witnessed by Griffith Rutherford and proved by General Rutherford in Feb. Term of 1780.

....... 

Rowan Co Deed Book 9, pg 613. Vacant Land Entry #5, 4 Feb 1778. Griffith Rutherford 400A on E side of Catawba River & on both sides of Back Creek including Samuel Woods improvement & an improvement of his own adj Hugh Montgomery. This is one of the first of the vacant land entries. We can infer that Capt. Samuel Woods sold or gave his land and house to Griffith Rutherford who was then able to register it at the county courthouse. By this time, Samuel Woods had gone to Burke County. He had apparently been living on undeeded land.

....... 

Rowan Co Deed Book 9, pg 526, 2 Dec 1783 (McCubbins File). Griffith Rutherford to Wm. Woods for 100 pds, 200A on E Bank of Catawba next John McCoun, John Baird & Griffith Rutherford [This land is on Back Creek]

The Revolution - North Carolina - Tennessee

General Griffith Rutherford was a member of the North Carolina Assembly as early as 1769. In 1775, he was elected as a member of the Provincial Congress and served in all of its subsequent sessions. On April 12th, 1776 General Rutherford was among the signers of the Old North State Resolution in favor of declaring the independence of the Colonies. This document pre-dated the Declaration of Independence by three months. The name of George Washington headed this list. 



General Rutherford was elected in October 1776 as a delegate to attend the 5th Provincial Congress at Halifax to help frame a state constitution. He was termed a "radical" as he advocated a "simple democracy" in which there would be a strong legislative branch with a weak executive branch and religious freedom with no established church. He was elected state Senator from Rowan County and served successive terms, 1777 - 1788. 



Six brigadier generals were appointed by the provincial Congress of North Carolina at Newbern on 4/22/1776, including General Griffith Rutherford, who was commissioned for the District of Salisbury. In the summer of 1776 he raised an army of 2,400 men and marched on the English forces of the Cherokee nation. This expedition laid waste to 36 Cherokee towns. The Cherokee were forced to sue for peace and in the Treaty of Long Island of 7/20/1777, the Cherokee ceded all lands east of the Blue Ridge, as well as, lands along the Watauga, Nolichucky, Upper Holston and New River. 

To stop raids when the English stirred up the Cherokee against patriots during the Revolutionary War in 1776, General Griffith Rutherford of Rowan marched, along with a regiment of 2,400 men, through Haywood County. Rutherford’s troop marched up Hominy Creek and made a crossing at the Pigeon River in Canton. They proceeded along Pigeon Gap (present U.S. 276) east of Waynesville and from there on across Balsam Gap into the Tuckasegee River Valley and across Cowee Gap into the Little Tennessee River Valley. 

The great army destroyed the Cherokee town of Stecoee with fire, along with some 35 other Indian towns. Crossing the mountainous wilderness was a great undertaking for 2,400 soldiers with supplies and equipment. It was an arduous journey through the wilderness, where only a few explorers had ventured before. There was the impending possibility of being discovered and ambushed by the Indians. The Rutherford expedition had shown the way for westward travel, although it’s likely that Rutherford had prior information from hunters, Indians and exploration accounts in guiding his army through this uncharted terrain. 



In 1777 General Griffith Rutherford marched his brigade to Savannah to aid General Lincoln. In the partisan warfare which developed, The Revolutionary War became a civil war - Whigs against Tories, and brother against brother. In Griffith's case, it was cousin against cousin. Griffith obviously was confident in the American cause. At the same time he was fighting a war with the world's dominant military power, General Griffith Rutherford entered a claim on 200 acres of land on the south side of Muddy Creek, North Carolina in 1778. After all, the odds were in the favor of those, who like himself, knew and loved the land for which they were fighting. 

In the pension petition of Adam Fiscus of Washington Co., Indiana, it is stated that "Adam entered the army at Moravian Town, NC, as a volunteer for 9 months in 1778 in the company of Capt. Henry Smith in Col. Locke’s regiment, under Gen. Rutherford. He marched from Moraviantown to Pierysburgh on Savanna River, SC, that being their headquarters. They marched from there up the River and crossed the River and was in the battle of Briar Creek. After the battle they returned to a place on the river called Two Sisters, remained there some time and was discharged, having served 9 months. Some time afterwards in the spring of 1779 he went to Kentucky in company with Daniel Boone." 



With less than 400 men under his command, General Rutherford defeated 1,000 Tories at Ramseur's Mills on June 20th, 1780. With a force of 700 North Carolina men under his command, he aided the South Carolina Whigs in suppressing a large number of "Scovellites" or Tories in December of 1780. 

In the events preceding the battle of Camden, James Monroe advised Thomas Jefferson by dispatch that General Griffith Rutherford has assembled 1,100 men of the Western Militia in June 1780 and was waiting at Charlotte about 60 or 70 miles from Camden. Three weeks after Charleston fell and the English started toward the Waxhaw settlements, General Griffith Rutherford assembled nine hundred militiamen in Charlotte. The situation in the South, he told them, was desperate. "Go home, boys," he said, "and get all the powder and balls and flints you can find, and be ready when I call you." 

Rutherford was watching closely the advance of English General Rawdon toward upper South Carolina when he learned that a force of perhaps more than a thousand Tories was assembling across the Catawba at Ramsour's Mill. At once he sent orders to Colonel Francis Locke to plan to attack the Tories; he would join him shortly and they would fall on the Loyalists. But Locke did not get the message; instead, he notified the general that he was marching to attack the Tories. And before Rutherford could reach the battleground, Locke's men had fought the Loyalist, killed many, utterly defeated the others. 

More victories over loyalist groups followed. A month after the Ramsour's Mill battle, other Loyalists were defeated at a place called Colson's Mill on the Pee Dee, and on July 31 Major Davie swept down on another band of Tories near the English garrison at Hanging Rock and defeated them.

The English continued to advance, despite the victories over Tory groups, and deep gloom, like the sweltering heat of August, lay heavy upon Mecklenburg and the back country. Rutherford joined forces with General Gates and the army of 3,052 men arrived at Camden August 16, 1780 but they were defeated and routed by the English army led by Cornwallis. Before the day was ended those Americans who had not been killed or captured were running. It was the worst American defeat of the revolution and the badly wounded General Griffith Rutherford was captured. 

General Davidson, who had also been wounded at Colson's Mill, was named a brigadier-general to succeed Rutherford. Davidson commanded the militia of the Salisbury district, which embraced the western third of the state and was by far the largest militia district. Thomas Jefferson stated in a letter to George Washington, dated September 3, 1780, that Generals DeKalb and Rutherford were missing, the latter was certainly a prisoner. General Rutherford had been badly wounded and was imprisoned.

Nearly a year later a prisoner exchange was made with the English which affected the release of General Rutherford, as well as, Declaration of Independence signers Thomas Heyward Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge. A few months after his release tragedy struck the General when James Rutherford, his oldest son, was killed at the Battle of Eutaw Springs, South Carolina on Sep. 8, 1781. The Battle of Eutaw Springs was the last important engagement in the Carolina campaign of the American Revolution. The American forces under General Nathanael Greene attacked at 4 AM, driving English troops under Colonel Alexander Stewart from the field. The English then rallied and repulsed the Americans. After sunset, Stewart retreated toward Charleston. The battle was an important victory for the Americans; it forced the English to remain within Charleston and prepared the way for the siege of Yorktown. 


The Battle of Camden was fought on August 16, 1780, about 5 km (about 3 mi) north of Camden, South Carolina, then occupied by the British. The American force, about 1500 regulars and 2000 poorly trained militiamen, was commanded by General Horatio Gates. General Charles Cornwallis commanded the British force of about 2000 men. Shortly after the action began, the American militiamen, many of whom were ill with dysentery, broke ranks, left their arms, and fled in disorder. The regulars, under General Johann Kalb (called Baron de Kalb), stood firm and were almost annihilated. De Kalb was wounded and captured; he died three days later. Through their victory, the British gained temporary control of the entire South. American casualties were about 1000 killed and wounded and about 1000 taken prisoner. British losses were about 325 killed and wounded. After the battle, Gates was replaced as commander of the Army of the South by General Nathanael Greene. 



The Battle Eutaw Springs was the last important engagement in the Carolina campaign of the American Revolution, fought on September 8, 1781, near Eutawville, South Carolina. The forces engaged consisted of about 2300 American militia and regulars under General Nathanael Greene and about 2500 British troops under Colonel Alexander Stewart. The Americans attacked at 4 AM, driving the British from the field. In the moment of victory, however, they stopped to loot supplies from the British camp, and the British used the respite to secure better positions and thereby repulse the Americans. After sunset, Stewart retreated toward Charleston, about 89 km (about 55 mi) to the southeast. The battle, although a draw tactically, was an important strategic victory for the Americans. It successfully closed Greene's southern campaign, compelled the British to remain within Charleston, and prepared the way for the siege of Yorktown. The British losses were 693 men killed, wounded, or missing; the Americans lost 408. 

Upon his release from an English prison, Griffith immediately called his brigade together and marched on Wilmington, North Carolina. However, the English commander had already heard of Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown and had evacuated Wilmington prior to the arrival of General Rutherford's troops. Ironically, King George III, whom the Americans had just defeated, was a distant cousin of General Rutherford's. General Griffith Rutherford, however, was much closer related to the royal House of Stewart and Bruce than was George III, whose German family is even today referred to as "the Hanoverian pretenders". 



Following the war, General Rutherford hosted a dinner for General George Washington at the Guilford Court House on June 2, 1791. General Washington presented General Rutherford with a silver snuff box containing Washington's favorite brand of snuff in thanks and as a token of their friendship. 

Once General Rutherford returned to North Carolina, he and other relatives began to see the great future for the infant states of North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. Griffith was already well established in North Carolinian political and social life. As a war hero, he returned with Capt. William Moore and the Moore family, Moore's wife being Gen. Rutherford's sister. One of his first public duties upon returning from the revolution took General Griffith and his cousin, Robert Weakley, into Tennessee to survey the lands granted to revolutionary war veterans. They obviously liked what they saw and when they returned to Rowan Co. Gen Griffith Rutherford formed the Rutherford wagon train. Via this caravan many of the allied families of Rowan Co. moved to middle Tennessee which is now Davidson, Rutherford and Weakley counties. General Rutherford moved his family to Tennessee in the fall of 1792 and settled in Sumner County, southeast of the present day town of Gallatin near the Cumberland River. 



President George Washington appointed General Rutherford to the Council of the Territory of Tennessee in 1794 and he was subsequently chosen as President of the Council.

Griffith Rutherford is said to be buried at Shiloh Presbyterian Church outside Gallatin, Tennessee which once stood on Hartsville Pike a few miles away from its present location. He died a member of the Lagardo Presbyterian Church and attended services the day before his death. There is some debate about which cemetery, Shiloh or Lagardo, has his remains. Mrs Rutherford [Elizabeth Graham] is buried at Lagardo’s Cumberland Presbyterian Church. ["General Griffith Rutherford and Allied Families" Minnie R.H. Long]

“Some of the members of Shiloh Church were soldiers of the Revolutionary War and came to the Cumberland County as it was then called to settle on lands granted for military services. Among these may be mentioned General Griffith Rutherford of North Carolina who had given distinguished service not only in the war but as a member of the legislature from Rowan County in 1770-1774 and as a member of the Provincial Congress in 1775. He was appointed Brigadier General for the Western District in 1776 and served until the close of the war. On the list of members of Shiloh Church are the names Griffith Rutherford and Mrs. Rutherford.” [“History of Shiloh Presbyterian Church 1793—1847” by Alice Baker Guthrie, Gallatin, Tennessee--April 18, 1938]

Our family has always held a belief that we were related to both General Griffith Rutherford and Rev. Samuel Rutherford. Solely through a misunderstanding of this oral tradition our David Rutherford and Hezekiah Hyatt Rutherford were used as the basis for two DAR memberships in 1927. These memberships were issued incorrectly to Eleanor Rutherford Wilcox and her sister Phoebe Peters Breyfogle. These two Rutherford descendants are from our direct line. However, Griffith Rutherford is our cousin and this degreee of relationship is not grounds for DAR or SAR membership. Our membership would only be possible through:

1 - Charles Hagan, great grandfather of William Francis Rutherford of Marion County, Iowa

2 - Lieut. Solomon Phelps Sr., 3x grandfather of William Francis Rutherford of Marion County, Iowa

3 - Capt. Solomon Phelps Jr., 2x grandfather of William Francis Rutherford of Marion County, Iowa

4 - Elizabeth Beard, grandmother of William Rutherford Jr. of Lincolnton, Lincoln Co., NC.

DAR, Volume 90
Lineage Book - Page 212
by Daughters of the American Revolution - 1927
Eleanor Rutherford Wilcox
b. New Albany, IN, DAR ID #89653 
+George D. Wilcox.
Descendant of Brig.-Gen. Griffith Rutherford
1. Jonathan Peters (1833-98) m. 2nd 1866 Martha Ann Rutherford (1835-92). 
2. Hezekiah Hyatt Rutherford (1800-83) m. 1818 Catherine Hammer (d.1841). 
3. David Rutherford (d. 1818) m. 1791 Mary Hyatt (d. 1814). 
4. Griffith Rutherford m. 1758 Elizabeth Graham. 



DAR, Volume 93
Lineage Book - Page 148
by Daughters of the American Revolution - 1927
Phoebe Peters Breyfogle
b. New Albany, IN, DAR ID #92467 
+John W. Breyfogle

Descendant of Brig.-Gen. Griffith Rutherford
1. Jonathan Peters (1833-98) m. 2nd 1866 Martha Ann Rutherford (1835-92). 
2. Hezekiah Hyatt Rutherford (1800-83) m. 1818 Catherine Hammer (d. 1841). 
3. David Rutherford (d. 1818) m. 1791 Mary Hyatt (d. 1814). 
4. Griffith Rutherford m. 1758 Elizabeth Graham.

.......

A short discussion of two Griffith Rutherford genealogies that may shed some light on the confusion between Griffith's Rutherford line and our own.

Recapping:

The descendants of Griffith Rutherford have privately published two family histories over the years which have quite different views of Griffith’s ancestry: "General Griffith Rutherford and Allied Families" by Minnie R.H. Long Wisconsin Cueno Press, Milwaukee, WI 1942 "The Gathering of the Clans" by Edna Rutherford Davey Part I - "The Rutherford Story" Published Privately 1955-1957 Griffith’s Ancestry Previously, I have posted side by side position papers advocating the views of both works. Simply stated, Minnie R.H. Long puts forward a claim that Griffith descends from the Rutherfurds of Edgerston and Edna Rutherford Davey claims that he was from the Hunthill cadet. It has become clear over the years that Edna Rutherford Davey was correct. Minnie R.H. Long’s theory that he was the son of Sir John Rutherfurd of Edgerston cannot be supported for a number of reasons. These two works are difficult to find and totally wanting in their Scottish research. However, from Griffith’s children onward they are soundly written and well documented. Minnie Long’s work is exceptional in her Revolutionary War record and its connections with the Rutherfords, Grahams, Lockes, Catheys and other collateral lines.

Minnie R.H. Long

"General Griffith Rutherford and Allied Families"

Wisconsin Cueno Press, Milwaukee, WI 1942

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The Gathering of the Clans"

Part I - "The Rutherford Story", by Edna Rutherford Davey, 1955-1957

Part II - "The Hill and Allied Stories", by Ella Beatrice Hill, 1955-1957

Palo Alto, California, 1957

 

First let me clear up Minnie Long’s assertion that Griffith was from the Edgerston line. If you look at page 5 of Minnie’s book you’ll see that she infers that Griffith’s father was Sir John Rutherfurd [note spelling] and his wife Elizabeth Cairncross. This Sir John Rutherfurd died in 1764 in Scotland and is buried in Jedburgh Abbey. Sir John’s oldest son, also named John, died at the battle of Fort Ticonderoga on July 6th, 1758. These two men could not have been the father of Griffith Rutherford. Minnie was simply unaware that there was another Rutherford family in New Jersey at the time of Griffith’s parent’s death.

On the same page 5 of Minnie’s book she does say [per Griffith’s son Henry] that “compassionate friends took the child to relatives of the same name in New Jersey.” It should be noted that the Rutherfords of Hunthill spell their name “Rutherford” and the Rutherfurds of Edgerston spell their’s “Rutherfurd”. Some Hunthills also spelled their name “Rutherfoord”. On page 6, Minnie “fast forwards” to North Carolina without any explanation as to how the young orphan Griffith Rutherford got to NC and ‘arrived’ as a thoroughly trained military man and surveyor? Ironically, Griffith is often portrayed as a country bumpkin – who is loud and unrefined. This is doubtful – very doubtful.

So how did Griffith get from New Jersey to North Carolina? That’s where the genealogy of the Rutherfords should throw some light on this issue. Griffith went to live with “relatives of the same name in New Jersey.” Living in Trenton, New Jersey at that time was Robert Rutherford Jr the son of an unknown Weakley woman and Robert Rutherford Sr. of Trenton, NJ. Robert Rutherford was also the nephew of James Rutherford Sr. of Trenton, NJ. All of these Rutherfords were the descendants of Rev. Samuel Rutherford of Ireland. John Rutherford, father of Griffith, was also the son of Rev. Samuel Rutherford of Ireland. Hence, “compassionate friends took the child to relatives of the same name in New Jersey.”

These ‘relatives of the same name’, by the way, were professional soldiers and surveyors - as were Griffith and his sons Henry and James. It should be noted that Griffith’s oldest son was named for his uncle James Rutherford and his youngest son was named Griffith Weakley Rutherford after his great aunt’s family who had lived with him in NJ, PA and VA. Weakley County Tennessee is named for this same family.

"Catawba River Basin Pioneers" part 6: 1755

James Weakley was listed (1829-P) with 435 Acres in Anson County North Carolina, 3 October 1755 (LG Bk. 2, p. 135. LGO Anson-409 and Anson-2179). This was issued at the same time as a grant to William Pickens and Griffith Rutherford (1830-P) "On the west side of Catawba river and on Rockey Creek" (LG Bk 2, p. 135. LGO Anson-410 and Anson-2180)

William Weakley in Lancaster county, PA, lived in the area that would later become Cumberland county. There were a number of inhabitants of the area who signed a petition to the Penns asking for a road to be built from John Harris' ferry on the Susquehanna, which would later become the site of Harrisburg, through Cumberland Co. Quite a number of early settlers signed it, including James and William Weakley, here spelled Wekely, as well as Robert Weakley's grandfather Robert Rutherford. The petition was dated May 21, 1735. (The Pennsylvania Archives, series 6, vol. 14, p. 273.)

On the same list of petitioners is James Woods, whose son Robert appears in the 1749 tithables of Lunenburg county, VA. This same Robert Woods also patented 5,000 acres of land with one Robert Weakley in 1765 in what would become Franklin county. In 1792 Griffith Rutherford moved to Sumner County, Tennessee. His will, dated in Rowan County, North Carolina, on July 14, 1792, and recorded in Transcript of Wills No. 1, Sumner County, gives personal property and slaves to his wife, Elizabeth, and "my two sons, John and Griffith Weakley, and my daughter, Elizabeth," who was unmarried. The executors named were Henry Rutherford, Robert Weakley, and John King.

So where does Griffith first appear in the written record? This is easy, in Cub Creek, VA. Which begs the question, "How did he get to Virginia from New Jersey?" In dept study of the Blunston Licenses issued by the Penn family land agent reveals that the Rutherfords and Weakleys held land there in 1734 and later at the Caldwell Settlement at Cub Creek. We find Griffith’s name for the first time at the Caldwell Settlement at Cub Creek in Lunenburg Co, VA [now Charlotte Co, VA]. The settlement was founded in 1738 – Griffith would have been a minor – hence no record. In 1741 his “uncle James” [actually 1st cousin once removed] deeded 1000 acres of land on both sides of Cub Creek in Brunswick County 6/15/1741 (Virginia Patents, #29, 1749-51, vol. 2, page 484 VA State Library) Griffith would have been around 20/21 years old. No tithing records exist from Griffith’s 21st to 27th year, but in the 1748 and 1749 Lunenburg Tithes we find Griffith Rutherford - 1 tithe along side of his cousin James Rutherford and his son William Rutherford - 2 tithes. The Lunenburg Tithes of 1748/49 are the only occasion where the name Griffith Rutherford appears with any other person[s] named Rutherford other than his own descendants.

Of course, the descendants of this family knew the bits and pieces of the story. The single hint in 'the literature' comes from Minnie Long author of "General Griffith Rutherford and Allied Families". She relates the failed and terribly late attempt by Griffith Rutherford III to prove the name in Scotland: "Griffith Rutherford III was the fifth child of Griffith Weakley Rutherford and wife Elizabeth Johnson. Lived a while in Smith Co., then in Wilson. Later, financed by his brother-in-law Nathan Harsh, he gathered all possible information concerning the parents of General Griffith Rutherford, their starting to America, dying at sea, about the coat of arms embossed on some silver that had been saved. He gathered every possible evidence to gain recognition in Scotland. He went to New Orleans to take a vessel, but had yellow fever, and recovering found all his money and papers had been stolen. Returning to home he was so discouraged and broken in health that death soon followed."