David Barton and Ruth Oldham Family

(Minor Updates on October 4, 2006)

David was born ca 1730 in Stafford County, Virginia. The next year, the area became Prince William County. David was administrator of Thomas(3)’s estate in 1752 and is believed to be a son of Thomas(3). (for more information see the Thomas(1,2,3) of Stafford County VA family)

See this family also on the Lineage I page.

Probably, everyone associates this David Barton with: "being killed on expedition into Kentucky with Daniel Boone, fighting Indians led by British officers.” (about 1775) (I have not been able to verify this legend to my satisfaction.)

We read in the November, 1999 Supplement to Nally's "The Barton Book" that David's name is listed on a large monument at Boonesville, Kentucky. I visited Fort Boonesborough in 2004 and realized that the numerous Bartons listed on the monument were not David Barton md. Ruth Oldham's family, but are another group of Bartons who settled there.

Here is the inscription on the headstone. (It's easy to see why our family was happy to claim this connection)

Fort Boonesborough Dedicated by their descendants to the sacred memory of the Brave Pioneers who Entered the Wilderness of What Later Became Known as Boonesborough
First Fortified Settlement in Kentucky
We honor these first families of Kentucky

Others may recall the story from The Barton Book about David and Ruth, when moving from Virginia to Kentucky: "... Ruth's children were so small - some of them - that they drove a cow along so that her children might have milk." (Probably in 1772) When I had the privilege of spending several hours with our noted "dean" of Barton researchers, Ruth Barton Coleman of Austin Texas, she noted that it was normal to take your cows along when you were moving. She didn't see anything unusual about this, but did agree that it makes a nice story. It also emphasizes the dilemma that Ruth faced in raising those small children after her husband was killed.

Here is a bit that relates to David's "... license to keep ordinary..." while living in Fauquier County, Virginia

Fauquier Historical Society - 1st Series Bulletins:

Watt's Ordinary 12 miles from Neville's Ordinary. This resort of travelers on the Falmouth-Winchester Road judging from its distance from Germantown on the Fry and Jefferson map must have been located at the present site of Delaplane, a theory which is supported by the fact that altho no license was granted to any Watts to keep ordinary after the organization of Fauquier County, a Thomas Watts in 1761 was appointed "Surveyor of the Road" in the room of David Barton and David Barton at the following court obtained a license to keep ordinary.

A few definitions are needed for us to understand this passage. Thanks to an internet friend who specializes in Colonial Virginia genealogy, Gwen Hendrix, for these interpretations:

An ordinary, in this case, is a tavern. The owner had to get a license from the county court. (In South Carolina and Georgia, that I know of, an Ordinary was a Judge of Probate.)

"Keeping an ordinary" meant operating a tavern, often in the owner's home, if large enough. The surveyor of the road surveyed the area of a proposed road and recommended a route. In those days it is my understanding that the county court appointed a surveyor of the road to do a specific job only---usually to survey a section of a proposed road. The position ended when that job was done and a report made to the court.

"In the room of" means instead of. It has nothing to do with a building. If the court minutes said Thomas Watts was appointed surveyor in the room of David Barton, that means David Barton used to be the surveyor and now Thomas Watts is the surveyor.

From this one passage, we find out two things about David.

He just completed a term as Surveyor of the Road. Clara's notes show that he had also been named as a surveyor in the Prince William Order Book of 1755-57 and was named again in 1769. (More on this aspect another time)

He received authority to run an "ordinary" or tavern in 1761.

My family visited Williamsburg, Virginia, and took a tour of the Raleigh Tavern, which is restored to this same time period of Colonial Virginia. The stories we heard there can help us understand the taverns of the time. In those days, running a tavern was a respected profession. As today, travelers needed a place to spend the night. Lodging and meals were expensive, but very important to weary travelers. Strong drink and gaming rooms would have been available. Travelers were almost always men. They shared a common room with other travelers or paid extra for a small room. There were beds, but these would be shared with one or more other travelers, even if the traveler had paid extra for a separate room. No one expected a bed to himself. The one hot meal of the day was served at 2 pm. In the evening and again at breakfast the following morning, cold leftovers from the previous meal would be served.

Another concept that captured my imagination: up until the early-mid 1770s, the citizens of Colonial Virginia considered themselves to be English. After the change in attitudes that led to the Revolution, they thought of themselves as Virginians. Our Virginia ancestors probably never thought of themselves as “Americans”.

Migration from Bull Run Mountain area to Leeds Parish - roughly 10 miles (both in what is now Fauquier County)

In 1759, David Barton obtained a lease from Lord Fairfax in Leeds Parish of Fauquier County. John Barton, believed to be David’s brother, also had a lease in the area. A number of other Barton families (relation uncertain) were in the area.

Migration from Leeds Parish, Fauquier County, Virginia to Surry County, North Carolina

David Barton and Ruth Oldham, his wife, of Leeds Parish, Fauquier County, sold their leases and household goods, with the last record being 2 Nov 1771. Court records show they were in Surry County, North Carolina, in 1772 (Surry County became Wilkes County in 1778). David was killed in 1775 (according to legend, by British-led Indians while on expedition with Daniel Boone into Kentucky), so he probably intended to move the family to Kentucky.

The families that I know about in this group include:
  • David Barton & Ruth Oldham (married 27 July 1752, probably in Prince William County, which became Fauquier County in 1759) and their children Ruth, Fanny, John, Benjamin, Mary, William, Susan, Thomas, David Oldham & Presley.
  • John Barton (probably a brother of David) and his wife Rhody
  • Lawrence Ross & Susannah Oldham (Oldham family records say Ross was in Fauquier County. He was administrator of David's estate in Surry County, North Carolina.) Susannah & Ruth Oldham were sisters. Lawrence Ross’ family records say he went to Oldham County, Kentucky by 1784.
  • Moses Guest (relationship not known) According to a descendant, David & Ruth's son, Benjamin, was married in Moses Guest’s home by Benjamin’s Uncle John Barton.

Migration from Surry/Wilkes Counties, North Carolina to the Tugaloo River area of South Carolina & Georgia

After staying in Surry/Wilkes Counties, North Carolina, for about a decade, the Bartons and Moses Guest show up in the records of the Tugaloo River area of South Carolina/Georgia beginning around 1785. They lived on both sides of the Tugaloo River, which is now flooded by Lake Hartwell and is also the Georgia/South Carolina state line in this area. Before the state line was moved in 1787, John Barton and John Kees served in the Georgia General Assembly. Both remained in the Chuaga River Valley (which became South Carolina). Barton records are found in Wilkes, Franklin, Elbert & Lincoln Counties in Georgia, in Pendleton District & in Anderson and Oconee Counties, South Carolina. They attended Shole (Shoal) Creek, Georgia, Baptist Church, founded in 1796 in Franklin County, Georgia,, moved to Chuaga, South Carolina in 1811. John, Benjamin, William & Thomas Barton were all early members, with David Oldham Barton and family receiving frequent mention in the later South Carolina church records.

Migration from the Tugaloo River area of South Carolina & Georgia to Morgan County, Georgia

About 1807 four of the sons of David and Ruth Barton moved again, with Benjamin moving to Bedford County, Tennessee, and Thomas, William & Presley moving to Baldwin County, Georgia (became Morgan County in 1807). David Oldham Barton and John Barton stayed in the Chuaga River Valley of South Carolina. There are numerous land records for the brothers in Morgan County. William and Presley stayed in Morgan County when Thomas moved on.

Migration from Morgan County, Georgia, to Montgomery County, Alabama

In 1817, Thomas Barton and family moved again; this time to Montgomery County, Alabama (the area became Elmore County in 1866). He was “the first white settler on the North side of the Tallapoosa River”. He received Grants #1,2,3,4 and later, others) from the Federal Cahaba Land Office. Thomas is the first Barton ancestor who I found with records of having owned slaves; this appears to have begun about 1800. His last will and testament in 1825 listed 27 slaves. (note - since writing this, I have found records indicating that Thomas(2) had slaves in the early 1700s in Prince William County, Virginia.)

Migration from Montgomery County, Alabama, to Tombigbee River, Columbus, Mississippi

About 1835/36, the Conway Oldham Barton family moved to Mississippi, buying a place on the Tombigbee River near Columbus. (Conway owned 4 tracts of land in Columbus, Lowndes County, Mississippi, purchased from the Federal Govt.) I suspect that they lived at what became the town of Barton, founded in 1848, a few years after they moved on. (with the town being named for them as prior landowners) The town died out and the area is now a recreational park along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Archaelogists (in the 1960-70s) investigated the area through the 'Tombigbee Historic Townsites Project'. They mention a “…small Greek Revival house, ambitious in detail …”, built about 1840-50. I suspect that this house was built by Conway Oldham Barton. More research is needed.

Migration from Tombigbee River, Columbus, Mississippi to Caddo Parish, Louisiana

Before 1844, the Conway Oldham Barton family moved to Caddo Parish, Louisiana where they owned a plantation in the Red River valley. Records show that he purchased two sections of land from the Federal Govt. Yellow Fever killed two of Conway’s daughters and apparently provoked the move to Texas.

Migration from Caddo Parish, Louisiana to Milam County, Texas

In 1852, Conway & his family moved to Texas where he bought a plantation in Brazos Bottom, Robertson County. At first the family lived in the bottom close to Big Brazos on the Robertson County side. They soon bought land across the river in Milam County and built their first real home in Texas in the hills of Milam County. Conway’s three oldest sons all served in Hood’s Texas Brigade and each received severe wounds. John and Lem both lost their right arm at Antietam, while Frank’s knee was shattered at Chickamauga. The brothers were stationed at Dumfries, Virginia during the winter of 1861-62. Members of Hood’s Brigade carved their initials in the windowsills of the nearby Aquia Episcopal Church built in 1757. (Searches have not turned up JB, LB or FB)

Migration from Milam County, Texas, to Bartonsite, Texas

About 1890 Joseph James Barton and his uncles (Frank Barton and Tyre Sneed) started a ranch on the Llano Estacado (High Plains) of Texas, where the Comanche Indians had ruled until 1874. JJ soon brought his wife and small children to the treeless plains, becoming the last in a line of settlers who lived on the frontier. Possibly, JJ’s wife, Mary Jane Harlan, suffered even more than our other pioneer mothers. I’m not sure earlier generations of pioneers had ever experienced much luxury, but Mary left a life of comfort in Calvert TX to move to what became Bartonsite TX. One of JJ’s sons, John (Jack) Sneed Barton, and two of his grandsons, Joseph James III & Jack Pinson Barton carried on the farming tradition. JJ III’s son, Timothy Harlan Barton is the remaining farmer. The other descendants of JJ and Mary Barton are scattered through-out the USA. Their house, built in 1909, is now called "The Barton House" and is the centerpiece of the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock TX.

This information is compiled from original source material, abstracts, records of a number of Barton researchers (with extensive reliance on family historians: Clara Luther Barton and Cassie Marie Rosser) & several Books. It almost certainly contains errors and incorrect interpretations. Please let me know if you find or suspect an error. Consider this is a “Work in Progress”. Documentation is available. Terry Barton


"This information is for the private use of any Barton Researcher to further their own knowledge. It is not to be shared or reprinted in any form without written permission of the author."

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