Luremia Combs was born about 1740, probably in Amelia County, to John Combes and his first wife whose identity is unknown. John’s wife at the time of his death was Frances Elam who he married in Amelia County on Sept. 11, 1750.
Francis would become embattled with her step-children after John’s death, although she assuredly raised at least some of those children. Luremia would have been about 10 or 12 when her father remarried, which means, of course, that Luremia lost her mother when she was a young child. Based on a subsequent lawsuit, and the fact that Luremia did not name a child Frances, I would hypothesize that Luremia did not enjoy a positive relationship with Frances, at least not as an adult.
Luremia was married to Moses Estes, probably in 1762, because their first child, George, was born in Amelia County on February 3, 1763 according to his Revolutionary War pension application..
In February 1767 in Lunenburg County, VA, we find a transaction where George Combs sells land to Moses Estis for £25, 300A adjoining John Combs. Pheby, wife of George, relinquishes her dower.
It was from this land sale that previous researchers had surmised that Moses’s wife was the daughter of George Combes and Phebe, last name unknown.
On March 30, 1768, this tract of land is processioned and described as lying between “Reedy Creek, Reedy Creek old road, Coxes road and the North Meherrin River.”
Processioning of land is when, in colonial America, you got together with your neighbors once a year and everyone walked the boundaries, agreeing between themselves where the property boundaries lie. The results of that event, and who was present, was recorded in the church vestry book. I’d guess this became a social event of sorts as well – including spirits to stay warm of course. Fortunately, the processioning of this area was very specific, as are some of the deeds, which allowed me to pinpoint the location of Moses’s land.
On the map below, relevant landmarks pertaining to the Estes family in Lunenburg County are shown.
X identifies the location of Moses Estes land in Lunenburg County – between the North Meherrin and Reedy Creek. According to the local farmers, this area is where the old Meherrin Indian village stood. They find artifacts and relics regularly.
Given that I could find this specific location, I had to visit. My ancestral lands call to me like a moth to the flame. And in this case, 5 of my ancestors lived here, both Moses Sr. and Moses Jr., along with their wives. This would also have been where George Estes was born in 1763, probably on this same land when still owned by Luremia’s family.
Trinity Road appears to have been the original road through that area, forms a loop, and both begins and ends at Courthouse Road, where, of course, you find the courthouse.
The courthouse, which does not have a town around it, is shown by the upper purple arrow, on land originally owned by Robert Estes, brother of Moses Estes Sr.
The old church is also on Trinity Road, and the Estes land is just off Trinity Road. When they lived here, they were right on the main drag, although that’s certainly not apparent today.
There is only one possible location for Moses Estes land in Lunenburg County, given the geography in question, and during my 2004 trip, I found the land. To this day, there is only one cleared area on both sides of the road, and a very old house in the clearing. The land is beautiful.
This house, above, is located on the east side of Reedy Creek Road.
This is the older house on the west side of Reedy Creek Road on the land that Moses Estes owned in Lunenburg County. This could well be the house where Moses lived. A newer house is located to the rear of the property.
This photo is of both the older house and the newer home in the background.
So this area, and maybe even this house, is where Luremia set up housekeeping and welcomed her first babies into the world. The first of those babies, George, would one day take his father’s place in the Revolutionary War so his father didn’t have to serve. Instead, Moses gave food, fodder and other goods to the cause.
On December 2, 1768, Moses Estes of Lunenburg County sells to Francis Combes of Amelia County, for £75, the tract that Moses Estes purchased of George Combes on February 12, 1767. Witnesses to this transaction were Moses Estes, Sr., Elizabeth Estes and Thomas Munford.
Moses’s wife, “Susanna” Estes relinquishes dower, per one source. June Banks Evans in her Lunenburg County Deed Books transcribed and interprets her name as Lurania.
July 13, 1769 – Susanna (or Lurania), wife of Moses Estis, came into court and relinquished dower in land conveyed to Richard Jones. Relinquishing dower meant that the wife indicated that she understood that her husband sold that property and she gave up her right to her one third interest by law, were he to die.
It was from this record that Luremia’s name was ordained to be Susannah and is still shown that way in many trees. Some trees have merged the two and given her two names, Susanna Luremia or vice versa. And some have given Moses two wives, Susannah Combes and Luremia Combes, and a nice story that they were sisters to go along with the two wives. For the record, this isn’t true.
How do we know it isn’t true? Because there is juicy gossip – in the form of a chancery suit filed in Amelia County, VA. I just love chancery suits. They focus on divisions of equity, not on a determination of guilt or innocence and for the most part, in Virginia, unless the courthouse has burned, the depositions, complaints and responses in the case still exist.
Amelia Co. Va. Chancery Causes 1764 – 001
Estis et us vs Combs
Agreeable to the order here unto annexed we the subscribers have laid off and do assign unto the said Frances Combs widow of John Combs decd her dower in the lands and slaves one third part of the personal estate of said John Combs decd and have also divided the residue of the estate of the said John Combs decd in equal portions among the children of the said John Combs decd and do lay off and assign each their part in manner following viz”
To Frances Combs for her dower in the lands of the said John one hundred and fifety acres beginning in William Eggleston line on the upper side of the same Combs plantation thence down the said Eggleston’s line to his corner at the branch and from thence along Joseph Eggeleston’s line to a new dividing line and then with the said line to the beginning in William Eggleston’s line which includes the houses and plantation whereon the said Frances Combs now lives and for the said Frances dower in the slaves of the said John decd assign unto her one negro fellow named Harry and we do further assign unto the said Frances for her third part of the personal estate the sum of 52 pounds ten shillings 9 pence three farthings.
To Moses Eastis and Lurany his wife for his part of the personal estate of the said John Coombs decd the sum of 14 pounds and 17 shillings and 7 pence farthing.
To James Bowls (could be a slightly different name) and Martha his wife for his part of the personal estate of the said John Combs decd also the sum of 14 pounds 17 and 7 pence parthing.
To George Combs for his part of the personal estate of the said John Combs decd the sum of 14 pounds 17 shillings and 7 pence farthing and being his part equal with the other children.
We also assign and allot unto Samuel Combs, Mary Combs, Clarissa Combs, John Combs each of them the sum of 14 pounds and 17 shillings and 7 pence farthing current money for their part of the personal estate of the said John Combs, decd given under our hand this 25th day of ? 1762.
Amelia court held July 22, 1762
Moses Estes, Lorana his wife vs Frances Combs wife of John Combs decd
This cause heard and answered this day and ordered that John Booker, William Eggleston and John Cooke do assign to the defendant her dower in the lands and slaves of one third part of the estate of her late husband John Combs and that they divide the residue of the estate of the said John Combs among the complainant, children of the said John in equal proportions and assign unto each of them his or her share according to law.
Next document – the legal complaint.
Humble complaining Moses Estes and Luranna his wife, James Bowlen and Martha his wife, Samuel, George, Mary, Clarissa and John Combs that one John Combs, your orators father, being in his lifetime seized and possessed of a considerable estate and on the (blank) day departed this life intestate. Soon after the deceased on the motion of Frances Combs, the widow and relict of the said John admin. of all singular the goods and chattels rights and credits which were of the said John Combs at the time of his death. And that said Frances then took into her possession all the estate, that by a certain act of assembly made in the year of our Lord 1705? and in the 4th year of the reign of her ?. The orators have appealed to the said Frances Combs for their proportional part aforesaid but the said Frances refuses unless she may be ordered by the court. Your orators show that they are in some distress in being detained form their rights above contrary to equity… beg for consideration…ask that she be compelled to deliver (writing very faint).
Last document is a summons
Summon Frances Combs, admin of John Combs decd, Samuel, Mary, Clarissa and John Combs children of the said John Combs decd to appear… to answer a bill in chancery filed by Moses Estis and Loranna his wife.
The last record of the Moses Estes family in Lunenburg County is Luremia relinquishing her dower in 1769. Maybe the family is cleaning up loose ends before they leave. Moses is not on the Lunenburg tax list that year, but is on a list of road hands in Halifax County, although we can’t tell which Moses, father or son.
On June 20, 1771 in Halifax County, Moses Estes Jr. buys 256 acres from John and Elizabeth Owen that abuts the William Younger land. The transaction does not say Junior, but Moses Sr. never shows this land on the tax records and Moses Jr. still owns this land after Moses Sr. dies. Moses Jr.’s estate shows this land after his death as well. This is the land on present day Estes Street in South Boston, VA. This is where Luremia would spend the rest of her life – the next 40 years.
Today, Moses and Luremia’s land is the landfill, but I was able to obtain some images from the back side of land that had not yet been disturbed – thanks to the magic of Google maps street view.
Part of the old Estes land is now the Oak Ridge Cemetery, where it’s likely that Luremia is buried.
The Estes family land lay on the main road in South Boston. The world passed by on their way north or south, on their way to the courthouse, on their way to Boyd’s or Irwin’s Ferry, the only way to cross the Dan River. In fact, the city of South Boston was formed at and as a result of Boyd’s Ferry. If the Estes family had anything to sell, they certainly had a captive audience, living on the main road. Judging from the family stories, I’m betting they sold fruit brandy.
By this time, in 1771, Luremia is about 30 and probably has 3 or 4 small children. Before their family was complete, Luremia would have about 11 living children.
For the next decade, in Halifax County, life hummed along normally. Men worked on the roads, went to court for the drama of court day and farmed. Women tended to the kids, preserved food, made clothes and cooked. And everybody went to church. It was required and you were fined for not attending.
But life as they knew it would change in 1780 with the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Halifax County was in the wrong place, and the war came to them.
To make matters worse, Luremia’s oldest son, George, was gone – serving in that War. He would serve one term for his father, a second one for himself, and a third as a volunteer. This family clearly believed in independence.
In the winter of 1780, it looked like the Americans were losing in the South after a severe defeat at Camden, SC. General Nathaniel Greene, George Washington’s right hand man, was sent to NC to see what could be salvaged. What greeted him was bleak. His troops were severely outnumbered and what was left of his army was starving, poorly clothed and barely equipped.
Greene managed through what have been framed as “Hurclean efforts” to rebuild the army, and then undertook a brilliant military strategy. Knowing he was outnumbered, he divided his army in half and sent half south as a decoy. General Daniel Morgan allowed himself to be pursued by the British, specifically Cornwallis’s Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, known as “Bloody Ban” because he massacred surrendering American soldiers.
On January 17, 1781, Morgan turned on Tarleton and engaged at the Battle of Cowpens, decisively winning the battle, taking prisoners, weapons and supplies, and headed back for North Carolina. The race to Carolina was on, with Cornwallis’s troops furious and in hot pursuit in an event that would become known as the “Race to the Dan,” meaning the Dan River which divided NC and VA. Greene knew if he could cross the Dan, that he could defend that position and keep Cornwallis from crossing. So did Cornwallis – and he was behind – but determined to recover.
Morgan advanced northward through North Carolina, pushing his prisoners as fast as possible and burning bridges, boats and ferries behind him in an attempt to slow Cornwallis. Cornwallis was so desperate that he burned his own supply train to increase the speed of his chase. Cornwallis was close, very close, within hours of Morgan’s men, with Morgan’s unit often just barely avoiding his clutches. Morgan fell ill and was relieved by Col. Williams. The two halves of the Army attempted to rendezvous for strength. They skirmished with Cornwallis, but Greene knew that to turn and fight would be a sure loss, so he continued to race for the Dan, a location that formed a natural barrier that he could take and hold. Cornwallis surely knew that too.
Greene’s re-united army only numbered two thousand and thirty-six men, including fourteen hundred and twenty-six regulars. Col. Edward Carrington joined the command, with the report that boats had been secured, and secreted along the Dan River in Virginia, so as to be collected on a few hours’ warning. The British army was at Salem, only twenty-five miles from Guilford. This was on the tenth of February. The next 4 days were brutal.
To guard against Cornwallis making a detour and getting between the light troops and Greene’s army, as well as to protect his own force from surprise, Williams had to send out such numerous patrols and establish such strong pickets that half of his force was always on night duty. He halted for only six hours each night; each man got only six hours rest in every forty-eight. They never set up a tent. “The heat of the fires was the only protection from rain and sometimes snow.” They started each day at three in the morning and hastened forward to gain a distance ahead of their pursuers that would give them time for breakfast. Breakfast, dinner, and supper in one, because this was their only meal for the day. Cornwallis came on with equal speed. Both sides knew this was a critical juncture – a turning point – and both were desperate.
Four days later, Greene reached Boyd’s Ferry in South Boston, VA. On this map from 1884 when South Boston was actually formed, you can see Ferry street (upper left corner) still descends to the river where Boyd’s ferry was originally located. On this map, a railroad bridge has replaced Boyd’s ferry.
On Valentine’s Day, 1781, Greene’s troops built defensive works, and used every possible vessel to move his men and equipment, including cannons, across the Dan River at Boyd’s ferry, located at present day South Boston, and Irvine’s ferriy located just three or four miles west of Boyd’s ferry. Boats had been gathered from Boyd’s and Dix’s ferries (In Pittsylvania County), and represented all of the boats on the river.
Cornwallis received the news in the course of the evening. The river was too high to cross without boats, and every boat for miles in either direction was on the farther shore. Greene had won the race. Cornwallis was stuck. An exceptional detailed and breath-holding description of this event can be found here.
Not only did Greene hold Virginia, and therefore the north, a month later he would regroup and recross the Dan to face Cornwallis again at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, and the British of course would march on to ultimate defeat at the Battle of Yorktown. However, had the race to the Dan not been won by Greene and his men, we might well be British citizens today.
Oh, did I mention that the Estes home was between a mile and two miles from Boyd’s Ferry, on that main road, now called Main Street, where the Estes land and homestead was found? On the south end of Main Street, the name changes and this same street is called…Ferry Street. In fact, two of Luremia’s children would marry spouses from the Boyd family.
On the map below, you can see Estes Street, marked with the red balloon, Oak Ridge Cemetery in green, and Boyd’s Ferry is marked with the red arrow. At that time, the main road was current day 129, also called Main Street. As luck would have it, Moses Estes had been appointed surveyor of the road from Boyd’s ferry to the Banister River – so he was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of that dirt road – which of course meant keeping it passable. The notes from the commanders of the army talk about how the roads turned to icy cold rivers of mud with the passing of the troops, horses, wagons and supplies. Keep in mind that the city of South Boston, nor the town of Halifax, existed at that time.
I’d say that Moses Estes had his hands full in more ways than one.
So, whichever Army won the race and crossed the Dan River, they were headed straight for the Estes land. Hungry, maybe bent on destruction, depending on which side crossed first. By this time, Luremia was about 40 years old and probably had most of her children. She could easily have been pregnant or had a newborn at the time. She surely had a houseful of children to worry about. What was she going to do? Would anyplace have been safe? A war was coming, one way or another – and there was nothing to assure it wouldn’t be fought right there, on her doorstep, literally.
It’s no wonder that her husband, Moses, after the war, submitted a receipt for supplies for the troops. They contributed 6 bushels of Indian corn, 100 sheaves of oats, 100 pounds of fodder and 11 pounds of bacon. This makes me wonder if they quartered some of the men at their home or on their land. I’m sure they were EXTREMELY glad to see Greene and not Cornwallis.
We know, positively, that the entire army passed right by the Estes land, because they lived on the only road north. On February 17th, Greene’s troops crossed the Banister River, which would be just north of the town of Halifax today. The only road from the Dan River to the Banister was straight through the Estes land. Additional troops were called into Halifax County to help and reinforce Greene, including Virginia militia, North Carolina militia and a number of Catawba Indians. Pleas for food, hundreds of cloth sacks for horse feed, 1000 of the best stallions and other supplies were sent out to local residents who provided Greene’s army with what they needed to continue to fight and ultimately win the war. I envision the women of Halifax County, Luremia included, gathered together making sacks and clothes for soldiers. Luremia probably prayed that someone was taking care of her son, George, who was serving elsewhere, as she was taking care of these men.
There was other wartime activity in Halifax County as well, but nothing quite so stressful as Valentine’s Day in 1781. I can see Luremia’s children clustered around her, the younger ones perhaps hiding behind her skirts, watching in awe as the soldiers marched past and perhaps stopping to camp at the Estes plantation. Little did they know they were seeing history unfold at a pivotal juncture in a conflict, the outcome of which formed the foundation of the country we live in today.
In 1786, three of Luremia’s children would marry, beginning the exodus of her children, leaving the nest for lives of their own. Her first child to marry, Clarissa, married Francis Boyd in August, followed by both George marrying Mary Younger and Bartlett marrying Rachel Pounds on the same day in December. In that time and place, married children often didn’t go far, like next door – unless they left the area entirely. So at least initially, both George and Bartlett were living on the same land with Luremia and Moses, and Clarissa was certainly living close by, as the Boyd’s lived just down the road in South Boston.
The next we know of Luremia, she was paid to testify in a suit in 1791, Moody vs Armstrong. Her name is in the court records, but we know nothing more than that.
Luremia’s husband, Moses, seems to get a bit rowdy as his name appears several times in the court records in the 1790s. He was presented for a misdemeanor in 1791, seemed to be feuding with the Douglas family, and wound up in jail in 1796, although probably not for long.
In 1799, Moses Estes wrote his will and in it names Luremia as his wife and as his executor:
I, Moses Estes of the county of Halifax in the Commonwealth of Virginia being of perfect sense and memory and in good health thanks to God for the same but calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appropriate for all men once to die and not knowing when that period will arrive to me have thought it necessary and expedient to make and publish my last will and testament in manner to wit:…to George Estes my oldest son I have given a horse, saddle, bed and furniture and a cow value 40 pounds, to my daughter Clarissa who intermarried with Francis Boyd – to Bartlett Estes my son one mare and saddle, a bed and furniture and a cow value 40 pounds, – to my daughter Patience who intermarried with Peter Holt one bed and furniture value 8 pounds – to my son Laban property to the value of 30 pounds, to Winston Estis my son property to the same value, 30 pounds, – it is my will that whatsoever I may die possessed of that at the death of my beloved wife Luremia Estis and not before be equally divided amongst all my children viz George, Bartlet, Patience, Laban, Winstone, Judith, Josiah, Moses and Patsey (the said Patsey now intermarried with Robert Jackson) equally and fairly counting in the sums respectively advanced as part of their shares so that in the end the share shall be equal…Luremia Estes remain in possession of my land and plantation. Executor Luremia, son George and friend Berryman Green, signed by Moses Estes (his mark) – pronounced by Moses to be his last will and testament in the presence of Arm. Watlington Jr, John Barksdale and H. David Greene.
I have often wondered if Moses became ill in 1799, even though his will says he is in good health, because in earlier (and later) documents he could very clearly sign his name, yet his will bears his mark.
Moses didn’t die until 1813, more than a dozen years later. Luremia would have been about 70 at that time, maybe a bit older. Her last child would likely have married a decade or so before.
Luremia did not accept executorship of his estate, and neither did Berryman Green. Moses’s estate would be contested and would not be settled until 1834 and then not divided for another several years.
We know Luremia was alive in both 1815 and 1816 because there were supplies set aside for her from the estate in 1815 and she was at Moses’s estate sale in 1816.
We believe Luremia was still living in 1820, because George Estes, living on the family land, has a female in that age bracket living with him. We know she is gone by the 1830s when she is not present in any census and George is living alone.
Luremia is either buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery, which is on the original Estes land, or she was buried in the second cemetery on the Estes land between two of the houses, and was later reburied in the Oak Ridge Cemetery on the Estes plot, shown below, when the city took the land for a landfill. So, one way or another, all or part of her remains are, today, in the Oak Ridge Cemetery.
The Estes family graves that were moved are probably reburied in this area of unmarked graves.
Graves moved would include Moses Jr., Luremia, their son George and probably his wife, Mary Younger – in addition to any children they had that died. And you know they probably had children that died – everyone then did. It seems the death of children was a very sad rite of passage.
This small fieldstone and clump of flowers is all that remain in this area today. Surely those flowers were planted by someone to mark the grave of someone they loved.
How can we learn more about Luremia?
Luremia did have several daughters, and through those daughters, if they had daughters to the current generation, we could test their DNA and in doing so, find Luremia’s mitochondrial DNA.
Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mothers to all of their children, but only females pass it on. So in the current generation, testing males is fine, but they have to descend through all females back to Luremia.
Luremia’s DNA will tell us something really important – what part of the world were her matrilineal ancestors from. We do have Native American ancestry someplace in this family line – and it’s not from any of the lines we have already tested. Remember, Moses and Luremia bought land that the Meherrin Indians had lived on and that the Combs family owned. Is there a connection? We don’t know – and I’d surely like to.
Luremia’s daughters were:
- Patience Estes born before 1780, married Peter Holt, died before 1837, lived in Smith County, TN, and had at least one daughter, Cointhiana (or Cintha) Holt who married Johnson Moorefield.
- Clarissa Combs Estes born in the 1760s, married Frances Boyd in Halifax County in 1786, lived in Georgia in 1837, and had daughters May Isabel Irving Boyd, Lorany Combs Boyd, Clarice Combs Boyd and Nancy Lawson Boyd.
- Judith Estes born before 1787, married Andrew Juniel in Halifax County in 1806, died before 1837 in Henderson County, KY. She had daughters Sally, Nancy, Luraney and Jane.
- Patsy Martha Estes, married before 1799 to Robert Jackson (also spelled Hackson) and was married in 1837 to a Lax, children unknown.
- Maga Estes married in 1792 in Halifax County to William Patrick Boyd, children unknown. Not mentioned as a child in 1837 suit. Either she was dead with no heirs, or perhaps she was not a child of Moses and Luremia.
If you descend from any of these daughters, please get in touch. There is a DNA scholarship for the first person from this line willing to test. You may be the key to solving one last mystery about Luremia.
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