Map of Abraham Lefever properties and neighbors, middle and south forks of Holston River, Washington County, Virginia.

Jeffrey La Favre -

The earliest survey in this area was on March 14, 1746, for a 2600 acre tract named "Kilmackronan," owned by Col. James Patton and surveyed by John Buchanan, deputy surveyor for Augusta County, Virginia. James Patton was one of the original magistrates of Augusta County, VA, when it was organized in 1745. This tract was inherited by Captain James Thompson, son of Mary Patton and William Thompson, and grandson of James Patton (History of Southwest Virginia 1746-1786 Washington County 1777-1870 by Lewis Preston Summers).

List of Properties . Use the links below to examine transcriptions of the survey data contained in the land grants (land grants available online at Library of Virginia).

A. John Starnes 160 acres settled 1774 surveyed 16 Jun 1782 granted 13 Jun 1787
B. Aaron Lewis 121 acres surveyed 10 Jun 1785 granted 13 Jun 1793
C. John Kirk 300 acres settled 1772 surveyed 11 Feb 1783 granted 20 Jun 1785
D. David Craig 450 acres surveyed 21 Oct 1801 granted 13 May 1803
E. William P. Thompson 91 1/2 acres surveyed 7 Mar 1808 granted 2 Apr 1810
F. Nathaniel McClure 400 acres settled 1770 surveyed 8 Aug 1785 granted 7 May 1787
G. Henry Oakwood 400 acres settled 1773 surveyed 8 Nov 1784 granted 28 Aug 1789
H. Jacob Halfacre 172 acres surveyed 23 Aug 1783 granted 31 Jul 1795
J. Jonathan Cunningham 400 acres settled 1775 by George Hice surveyed 22 Jun 1782 granted 13 Jun 1787
K. Abraham Lefever 171 acres settled 1774 surveyed 24 Jan 1785 granted 2 May 1787
L. Andrew McKee(s) 228 acres surveyed 5 Oct 1789 granted 19 Jul 1790
M. Abraham Lefever 200 acres surveyed 5 May 1784 granted 2 Dec 1785
N. Adam Morrow 400 acres settled 1773 surveyed 12 Mar 1784 granted 12 Jul 1785
O. Samuel Kithcart 191 acres surveyed 4 Jan 1782 granted 26 Jun 1786
P. Joseph Cole, Jr. 400 acres settled 1771 surveyed 17 Jun 1782 granted 20 Jun 1785
R. Philip Grever 400 acres settled 1773 surveyed 5 Jun 1782 granted 5 Jul 1785
S. John Bowles 237 acres settled 1773 surveyed 12 Mar 1784 granted 12 Jul 1785
T. Thomas Edmundson, Jr. 359 acres surveyed 2 Jan 1783 granted 20 Jun 1785
U. James Thompson 2600 acres surveyed 14 Mar 1746
W. Johnathan Cortney 92 acres surveyed 4 Jun 1798 granted 23 Dec 1800
X. Thomas Edmondson, Sr. 358 acres surveyed 1 Jan 1783 granted 12 Jul 1785
Y. John Kelley (Kelly) 290 acres surveyed 13 Mar 1783 granted 20 Sep 1785
Z. Patrick Watson 320 acres surveyed 14 Mar 1783 granted 29 Aug 1785
AA. James Robinson 215 acres surveyed 14 Mar 1783 granted 2 Oct 1787
BB. James Thompson 41 acres surveyed 18 Jan 1794 granted 17 Mar 1800
CC. David and Samuel Robinson 230 acres surveyed 24 Apr 1785 granted 18 May 1786
DD. David Robinson 100 acres surveyed 27 Jun 1796 granted 22 Aug 1798

CLICK HERE for a high resolution map (6.0 MB - long download if you don't have high speed internet)

Surveying the tracts in this area must have been quite a challenge in the latter part of the Eighteenth Century. Considering the instruments available to the surveyor (compass and chain) and the rough terrain, we should not expect to find accurate surveys. Comparing two surveys of three lines of Conrod Henneger's tract illustrates the problem. The first survey was done 12 Nov 1784. After the death of Conrod, the executor of his will, James Thomspon, sold part of his tract to Philip Griever (a 40 acre portion adjoining A. Lefever tract - I presume that the three preexisting lines were surveyed again). The sale is recorded in Washington County, VA District Court Deed Book A, page 16, with a date of 3 Oct 1791. A comparison of the lengths determined for the three lines is provided in the table below. The combined length of the three lines in the second survey is only 86 percent of the combined length of the three lines in the first survey, a significant difference. To appreciate this difference in units we are more familiar with, let us convert to feet by multiplying by 16.5. Then the line S 14 E is 1287 feet long in the first survey and 1155 feet long as listed in the sale, a difference of 132 feet.


First survey
12 Nov 1784

Lines as listed in sale to P. Griever
3 Oct 1791

S 70 E
S 13 W
S 14 E

In analyzing the survey of tract M, Abraham Lefever, it was apparent that the surveyor left out one line. This serves as an example of inaccuracy due to an error. The line sequence in the Lefever survey is ...S 83 E 60 poles, N 60 E 120 poles.... Plotting the tract with the survey data provided yields a tract with greatly separated starting and ending points. An examination of the adjoining tract of John Bowles gives a clue to the problem. Lefever and Bowles share the line S 83 E 60 poles. Then the Bowles tract leaves the Lefever survey with a line S 29 E 34 poles. If we add this line to the Lefever survey, to obtain ...S 83 E 60 poles, S 29 E 34 poles, N 60 E 120 poles..., and plot this, then the starting and ending points of the Lefever survey are much closer to each other. Therefore, it appears that the surveyor left out the line S 29 E 34 poles in the Lefever survey. And this is supported by a later grant that corrects the problem. Philip Barrick acquired the Lefever tract and in 1805 was granted 13 acres adjoining the tract. By analysis of the 13-acre grant, it is obvious that it repairs the error of the original Lefever survey. The 13-acre tract is described as follows: S 33 E 40 poles, N 61 E 112 poles, S 80 1/2 W 120 poles. Without laboring the point any further, this small triangle of land fits nicely in the open space between Lefever, Bowles and Cole, Jr. properties, as originally described. And it repairs the error in the original Lefever survey.

A few of the surveys do not come close to closing when plotted (for example, see tract K, Abraham Lefever; tract G, Henry Oakwood; tract O, Samuel Kithcart). One tract, M, Abraham Lefever, is missing a line, as described above. The missing line was added to the Lefever survey for my map. Two surveys have an error in one line that yields an impossible tract (tract BB, James Thomspson and tract CC, David and Samuel Robinson). The errant lines for these two were altered to yield a closed survey. Adam Morrow's survey, tract N, had one line with an error of 180 degrees (discovered by examination of adjoining tract). The corrected line was used in plotting the tract. For some tracts I did not attempt to force a closing by altering the lines. This resulted in separate starting and ending points (for example, tracts N, S and T). If the the tract survey had close starting and ending points, I simply altered the last line slightly so that it ended at the starting point.

It is, I believe, impossible to place these tracts on a modern topographic map if your goal is accurate placement. The errors in these old surveys accumulate when attempting to create a map with many tracts. The old surveys do not contain monuments of known exact location. Perhaps the more reliable descriptions for points are those on the banks of the middle and south forks of the Holston River (but even then, a river might change course over a period of 200 years). For tracts between the forks, on the eastern side, there is a generally good fit with the southern bank of the middle fork and northern bank of the south fork. Tracts Z, AA and BB on the west fit well against the banks of the middle fork only if placed as I have done. But then there is a severe problem in trying to fit tract Y, John Kelley, with his western and eastern neighbors. I have provided alternate outlines for tracts in this area ( red and green outlines). But there is no way to resolve the mismatch with the data available to me.

For those who are looking to know the exact location of a tract, this map will not provide the answer. However, there are clues that the tract placements in general are not in gross error. The topographic map has a label for "Kelly Chapel", which is located at the southern line of John Kelley's tract, as I have drawn it. The "McClure Cemetery" is located on Nathaniel McClure's tract as I have drawn it.

The value of this map, I believe, is to indicate the rough location of the tracts, and most importantly, the members of this community. But keep in mind that many of these tracts were passed between individuals at a rapid rate during this time period. The map only indicates the person who was initially granted the land. In some cases ownership changed shortly after granting and perhaps several times in the span of 10 or 15 years.

My map is based on survey data in the grants because that is the data currently available online at the Library of Virginia. After a tract was granted by the state, further transactions were recorded in the county court house and I have not had the opportunity to examine these records directly. However, below you will find some information on tracts available from various abstracts of the court records.

Notes on tracts

Thomas Edmiston, Sr [Edmondson] sells to Daniel Snodgrass 155 acres on the waters of the South Fork of Holston River. Washington Co., VA Record of Deeds 1, p. 157, March 5, 1790. [Edmondson apparently sold a northern portion of his 358 acre tract to Daniel Snodgrass. David Robinson's 100-acre tract surveyed 27 Jun 1796, lists David Snodgrass as the owner of adjoining land at the second corner, which is Thomas Edmondson, Sr's land in the map below. The surveyor may have been in error in recording the first name or Daniel transferred ownership to David Snodgrass - I have not located a deed transferring the property from Daniel to David.]

Thomas Edmiston [Edmundson, Jr.] sells to John Moore, 359 acres on South Fork of Holston River. November 26, 1802. Adjacent to Alexander Robinson, [Doherty] Allen, Andrew McKee, Thomas Edmiston, Sr. Washington Co., VA Deed Book 2, p. 491.

Patrick Watson's will names William Watson as Executor. Washington Co., VA Will Book 1, p. 141, September 8, 1785. Probated November 11, 1788. William Watson sells to David Martin 320 acres. Washington Co., VA Record of Deeds 1, p. 364, November 18, 1794. [David Robinson's 100-acre tract surveyed 27 Jun 1796, lists David Martin as owner of adjoining land, which on map below is Patrick Watson's 320 acre tract.]

Jacob Halfacre had 35 acres surveyed on Spring Branch of the Middle Fork of Holston River, August 23, 1796. First Surveys of Land in Washington Co., VA. Annals of Southwest Virginia by Lewis Preston Summers.[There appears to be some open (public) land bordered by Halfacre, Kithcart, Oakwood and Morrow. I have not been able to locate a grant to J. Halfacre for 35 acres, but the tract might be located in the open area on the map.]

Samuel Killhart [Kithcart] sells to Andrew W. Kee [McKee] 192 acres on the Middle and South Forks of the Holston River [no date given, probably 1791]. Washington Co., VA Record of Deeds 1, p. 226. [David Robinson's 100-acre tract surveyed 27 Jun 1796, lists Andrew McKee as owner of adjoining land, which on the map below is Samuel Kithcart's 191 acre tract. Actually, due to problems in fitting the tracts on the map, Robinson's tract does not adjoin Kithcart's tract, although the survey descriptions indicate that they do adjoin.]

Adam Morrow sells to Doherty Allen [acreage not specified] land situated between the Middle and South Forks of Holston River. March 10, 1788. Washington Co., VA Record of Deeds 1, p. 78.

Abraham Lefever, Jr., acting attorney for Abraham Lefever, Sr., conveys to Philip Barick [Barrick] 200 acres on the South Fork of Holston River. November 15, 1791. Washington Co., VA Record of Deeds 1, p. 236. [note Barrack School labeled on topographic map, tract P]

Phillip Barrick and Mary his wife sell to Levi Lester 110 acres on a branch of the South Fork of the Holston River. July 16, 1793. Washington Co., VA Record of Deeds 1, p. 428.

notes for properties north of the Middle Fork will be provided on the page containing tracts only on the north side



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last updated March 9, 2009