John Combs Wife (c1710-c1749) and The Eagle, 52 Ancestors #96

We don’t know her name.  In my genealogy software she is simply listed as “unknown” or “wife 1.”  But assuredly, she lived, because she had a daughter named Luremia, my ancestor, a daughter Martha and a son George.  She may have had other children too, before she died an untimely death.

Her husband, John Combs was born about 1705, so she was probably born about the same time or maybe slightly later. Let’s say she was born about 1710.  We know she had three children, at least three that survived, and they were born around 1740-1743.  Then she died.  Sometime before 1750 when her husband remarried.  She died knowing she was leaving three small children behind – and perhaps more.  Did she die in childbirth?  Did she know she was dying?  Maybe she prayed that her husband would find another wife who would love those children.  What does a dying woman pray for under those circumstances, other than a miracle?

We may not know her name, when or where she was born, or to whom, but we do know where she lived.  Amelia County, Virginia.  I was able to visit Amelia County in the fall of 2015.  I was able to find the lands of John Combs and his unknown wife as well as the land of Moses Estes whose son, Moses Estes Jr. would marry their daughter, Luremia Combs.  These families were close neighbors and their families intermarried.

Amelia County carries a chapter of the Estes family history that intersects with the Combs family.  That’s also the chapter of Luremia’s mother with the unknown name.  Moses Estes Jr. married Luremia Combs who was born about 1740, probably in Amelia County, to John Combs and his first wife.  John’s wife, Luremia’s mother, is buried someplace here, as is John himself following his death in 1762.  John’s second wife, Frances Elam, married him on September 11, 1750 knowing he had three motherless children, had 4 more children with John Combs, remarried and outlived him significantly, until sometime after 1778.  Luremia Combs and Moses Estes Jr. married about the time John died.

The Estes Land

Moses Estes Jr., Luremia’s husband, was likely born in Hanover County.  It’s unclear when the Estes family, at least Moses Sr., moved to Amelia County, but he is listed in a deed in 1749 selling land in Louisa County and noted as “of Amelia County.”

By 1769, both Moses Sr. and his brother Elisha were living in Amelia County when Moses sued his brother relative to his father’s estate, and in the very early 1770s, Moses Sr. and Moses Jr. had moved to Halifax County, Virginia.

We know that in Amelia County, Moses Estes owned land that abutted Nicholas Gillington’s land, and Gillington’s land was on Horsepen Branch of Raleigh Parish which would put Horsepen Branch on Flatt Creek, located 3 or 4 miles east of the Grub Hill Church on 636, Lodore Road.

Combs wife 1

Yes, I know chasing the neighbors’ property is the long way around to find my ancestors – but sometimes that is the only way to find your ancestor’s property, and it can be done.  Thank heavens for landmarks with names.  If you pull the deeds for all of the neighbors, at least one of them will likely have a creek name or some landmark you can find today.  You then know, based on the land description, where your ancestor’s land was located in proximity to the land and landmark you just found.

Is this a royal pain in the patoot?  Oh yea.  Does it work?  Oh yea!!!!

Combs wife 2

Today you can visit the location of Moses Estes’ land on Lodore Road.

Combs wife 3

Dykeland Road (632) crosses Horsepen Branch.  Moses’ land seems to be closer to this location.

Combs wife 4

You can’t visit the Dykeland Road location on Google street view, probably because it’s dirt.

The Combs Land

John Combs and Luremia’s mother lived in very close proximity to the Egglestetton family and the Booker family, making his land easier to find, in general terms.  Grub Hill Church seems to be the center of this entire neighborhood and probably was then too.

Combs wife grub hill

Starting our tour at Grub Hill Church, founded in 1754, so known to the Estes and Combs families, I have to wonder if this is where John Combs and Luremia’s mother are buried.  Luremia’s mother died before 1750, so she may be buried on John’s farm, but then again, this cemetery could predate the church, so one never knows.  For all I know, this cemetery could have been ON the Combs farm.

Combs wife grub hill 2

This church was rebuilt in the 1800s, but this is the old section of the cemetery.

John died in 1762, and I’d bet he is buried with Luremia’s mother, wherever she is buried.

The Egglestetton family lived on Egglestetton Road, which, combined with the fact that one of the Egglestetton homes is on the register of historic places, and well-marked, makes them easy to find.

Combs wife eggletetton

After I returned home, I also discovered a second Egglestetton historic home, Locust Grove, located at the end of route 638 off the north side of Route 681.

Robert Farguson patented 400 acres on the lower side of Flatt Creek on Sept. 28, 1732 and sold it to Thomas Pettus who sold it to William Egglesten in 1753 – the land beginning at the mouth of Cabbin Branch.

According to the book, “Old Homes and Buildings of Amelia County, Virginia, Volume II” by Gibson McConnauhey, Locust Grove was the original Egglestetton plantation, and this included the land that was sold to Egglestetton by John Combs.

On December 23, 1778, William Egglestetton purchased from Frances Hubbard and her husband, Joseph, Frances’s dower right in the land of her late husband, John Combs, which had been patented to him on September 28, 1732.  This confirmed that indeed, John’s land is very near Locust Grove, if not the land of Locus Grove itself.

In 1798, Judith Egglestetton gave to her son, Edward, the life estate in the 400 acres that her husband, William Egglestetton had purchased of John Combs (DB20, p 425).

On the map below, the Locust Grove location is noted with the grey balloon and to the right, 630 is Egglestetton Road where the other historic Egglestetton home is located.

Combs wife 5

Looking at this map, I have to wonder if Haw Branch was formerly called Cabbin Branch when Joseph Ferguson patented the land.

It looks like Ferguson’s bridge could be the one over Flatt Creek on Lodore Road.  Even today, this is a wooden bridge.

Combs wife 6

What we know is that John Combs land was someplace in this area, and that he was keeping the road from the Flatt Creek bridge to the courthouse open and in order.

Combs wife 7

John’s land was between Nibbs and Flatt Creek and it looks like Combs bridge is the bridge on Grub Hill Church Road over Flatt Creek, shown above with the grey balloon.  The Farguson land and bridge is where N. Lodore Road crosses Flatt creek, on the left.

The Booker Home

Edmund Booker was a very wealthy planter in Amelia County – THE rich and influential man in the neighborhood.  He was also the neighbor of John Combs and his wife.

Combs wife 8

The old Edmund Booker home is now a lovely restored Bed and Breakfast and wedding event center called Winterham.  I stopped and was fortunate enough to find the owner available to talk for a few minutes.  It turns out that she is a history buff and has written several of the Amelia County articles and books.  She also shared with me a map of Winterham from 1869 which shows the original lines of the Booker plantation.

Combs wife Winterham survey

Combs wife Winterham survey 2

You can see the Egglestton lines to the left in the top photo.  North is not at the top.

Riding Down Egglestetton Road

Combs wife Egglestetton road

So let’s take a ride down Egglestetton Road.

This is the land on the southwest corner of Grub Hill Church Road and Egglestetton Road.  This is what most of the area looks like.  Slightly rolling and fertile.  This was indeed good land to patent.

Combs wife 10

Part of Egglestetton Road is still forested.

Combs wife 11

We found this lovely old tractor on one of the farms along Egglestetton Road.

Combs wife 12

I do believe this is a bit of a fixer upper.

Combs wife 13

It’s just beautiful farm country here.

Combs wife 14

Flatt Creek

From here we rode north on  Grub Hill Church Road to see George Combs bridge on Flatt Creek.

Combs wife 15

Flatt Creek isn’t terribly large here, but it is large enough that a bridge would have been needed.

A second small bridge exists today on Grub Hill Church Road but south of Flatt Creek, yet north of Egglestetton Road.  This may well have been the branch that Edmund Booker referred to on George Combs land that he agreed to keep open.

At court, in January 1747, John Booker requests that the road near his house on the way to Richard Booker’s mill be stopped and the old road near John Comb’s be kept open and Booker agrees to build a bridge over the run near Comb’s house and keep it in repair.

Of course, the road has changed between now and then, so perhaps this is not the exact same location, but there aren’t many candidates.

Combs wife 16

This is a branch of Nibbs Creek on Grub Hill Church Road, north of the church but before Flatt Creek.

Combs wife 17

If that is George Combs branch, then this is George Combs land.

Combs wife 18

Luremia’s Mother’s DNA

We may not know her name, but we can still perhaps discover more about Luremia’s mother.

Luremia’s mother had two daughters, both of whom would have passed on her mitochondrial DNA to her granddaughters through both daughters.  Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mothers to all of their children, but only the females pass it on.

Therefore, both daughters, Luremia and Martha would pass their mother’s mitochondrial DNA to their daughters, who would pass it on through their daughters, to the current generations.  Mitochondrial DNA is never combined with the DNA of the father.

  • Luremia Combs married Moses Estes Jr. and had the following daughters:
  • Patience Estes born before 1780 and married Peter Holt in Halifax County, VA.  Patience 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 and 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.

Luremia’s sister, Martha Combs married James Bowlen or Bowls, but nothing more is known of this couple.

If you descend from Luremia Combs Estes or Martha Combs Bowlen (or Bowls) through all females, I have a DNA testing scholarship for you.

Wouldn’t it be ironic to not know Luremia’s mother’s name, but to know about her ancestors through her DNA.

A Hint

We do have one hint as to a possible identity of Luremia’s mother – and it comes through lawsuits that followed John Combs death.  In those lawsuits, Jamie Farguson is refered to as George Combs uncle.  George Combs is Luremia’s brother, both children of John Combs and his unknown wife.

Now we know that the surnames are different, so Jamie Farguson/Ferguson is not John Combs’, brother unless he is a half-brother.

So, either James Farguson’s wife is a Combs, or John Combs first wife, Luremia’s mother, was a Farguson, now spelled Ferguson.  That’s certainly possible, because the Farguson/Ferguson family and the Combs family arrived at about the same time in Amelia County and their land was adjacent.

Tracking down the Ferguson family, it appears that John Ferguson was the first and only Ferguson of his generation to patent land in Amelia County – although his son, Robert, wasn’t far behind.  John was the son of James Ferguson of Essex County, and James Ferguson’s daughters seem to be accounted for – with no Combs involved, so perhaps John’s wife, Elizabeth was indeed a Combs.  Or perhaps John’s son, James married a Combs.  John Combs died in 1778, with a will, and mentions his children and some of his grandchildren, but no Combs.  Of course, if Luremia’s mother was John Combs daughter, she predeceased him. It’s also possible that the John who died in 1778 was the son of the original John.

Unfortunately, we have nothing more than this one vague reference to “uncle Jamie Farguson.”

If descendants of Luremia, George and Martha Combs stumble over any unusual Ferguson DNA matches, this could be the source.  However, having said that, John Ferguson who died in 1778 has a daughter who married an Estes man, so Luremia Estes’ descendants may well match with Ferguson descendants due to the Estes DNA, if their matches descend through John Ferguson’s daughter Kesia.

Truthfully, the Ferguson family, while prolific and using the same names repeatedly, is fairly well documented.  It think it’s much more likely that Jamie Ferguson’s wife, Polly, was a Combs than that John Comb’s unknown first wife was a Ferguson.

The Guide

This Virginia trip included an incredible gift.  The Amelia County adventure was part of a 2 week trip to Virginia that encompassed several counties and side trips to ancestral lands.  I was hoping for some fall color.

Various raptors have been with us for most of the way – soaring on the thermals and keeping a watchful eye on us.

However, in Amelia County, an eagle joined us near the Booker plantation, which, according to the map at Wintherham, abutted the Egglestetton land which had originally been that of John Combs and his unidentified wife.  I was here that John Combes wife and Luremia’s mother lived and bore her children.  It is here that she died, knowing she was leaving small, helpless children behind.  It was here that those children were raised and married.  It is here that Luremia’s mother is buried.  Someplace nearby.

Combs wife eagle

The eagle landed in the tree and surveyed us.

Combs wife eagle 2

He then lifted off beautifully, his white tail glowing in the sunshine.

Then, he led the way.  Maybe he was telling me where Luremia’s mother was buried.

Combs wife eagle 3

What an absolutely amazing gift and a wonderful way to end my visit to Amelia County.  If you’re a Combs or Estes descendant, and you decide to take this drive, I hope the eagle accompanies you too.

7 thoughts on “John Combs Wife (c1710-c1749) and The Eagle, 52 Ancestors #96

  1. Last year my daughter and I took a couple of days before the genealogy convention in Richmond to explore some of the land of our ancestors. First we went to Lunenburg Co. where we saw the land of Joseph Smith where the courthouse once stood–purchased from Robert Estes). We had some extra time in Amelia Co. so we went to Winterham, told the manager that we were descended from the Bookers and asked if we could have a tour. (Our Judith Townes Smith’s mother was Rachel Marot Booker, and Judith inherited about 50 acres of the Winterham property in 1810). We were given a tour. There’s something about actually walking where our ancestors walked!

  2. I’m a newbie and I read every word you write. I was thrilled when either I or one of my siblings or cousin matched an Estes. I’m only working with my closest matches so I didn’t keep track. Here are some of my Gedmatch kits: John Holt F432836, Carol A. Preece M211105; Paul C. Aiken M109811; Patricia Aiken-O’Neill M790100. Our Akin family was in Amelia County. At least one married a Fargusson. I don’t know if this helps or is a red herring.

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