Nicholas Speaks (1782-1852), Founder of Speaks Chapel United Methodist Church – 52 Ancestors #234

Nicholas Speak, Speake or Speaks, depending on who was spelling it when, was an ancestor who reunited a family some 200 years after his birth on March 3, 1782 in Charles County, Maryland.

In the 1980s, when I first connected to the Speak line, I found my wonderful cousins, Dolores Ham and Lola-Margaret Hall.

Lola Margaret at church door cropped

Lola-Margaret assembled a great deal of research in order to portray Sarah Faires, Nicholas’s wife. Lola-Margaret above and shown here presenting “Sarah’s likeness” in the very church established by Nicholas.

Nicholas Speaks Dolores Ham.jpg

When I began researching Nicholas, cousin Dolores had already been on his trail for years. I am greatly indebted to both of my cousins for their diligent research and for sharing so freely. Nicholas has not been an easy ancestor to research.

Thank you.

Nicholas’s Birth

Nicholas was born to Charles Beckworth or Beckwith Speak and his wife whose identity remains unknown, in Charles County Maryland.

Nicholas Speaks birth.png

You’d never guess by the fact that Nicholas eventually established a Methodist Church in Lee County, Virginia, but Nicholas was born Catholic. Someplace between Charles County, Maryland and Lee County, Virginia about 1820, Nicholas not only converted, he became a minister in the Methodist faith.

We don’t know much about Nicholas’s young years, but we do know that by 1787, his father, Charles, appears on a tax list in Rowan County, NC. Nicholas would have been about 5. Nicholas probably remembered little, if anything, about Maryland. We don’t know how long the family had lived in North Carolina prior to 1787.

Nicholas’s mother died sometime between his birth and July 16, 1789 when his father remarried to Jane or Jean Conners in Rowan County. If I had to guess, and I do, I would surmise that Nicholas’s mother died in North Carolina not terribly long before his father remarried, because raising children alone for a father in frontier North Carolina would have been next to impossible.

In 1789, Nicholas would have been 7 years old.

By 1793, Charles had purchased land in Iredell County, NC, which is located just east of the Appalachian mountain range.

Nicholas Speaks Iredell County.png

We don’t know exactly what, but something unfortunate happened, and Charles died before September 1794 when his estate was sold.

At this time, Nicholas would have been all of 12 years old, an orphan in a location with little family.

In May of 1795, guardianship of Nicholas and his siblings, Joseph, Thomas, John and James was assigned to one Richard Speaks for the boys and one Elizabeth Speaks for Nicholas’s sister, Elizabeth Speaks. Who are Richard and Elizabeth Speaks? How are they related to each other? We have no idea, but they were clearly kin of some description. We also have no idea what happened to any of Nicholas’s siblings.

What became of Nicholas’s step-mother, Jane or Jean? We don’t have the answer to that either – however – given the fact that the guardianship was not made until probably nearly a year after Charles death, I wonder if the children were living with Jane/Jean and something happened to her too during this time period.

Nicholas and his 4 brothers went to live with Richard who apparently lived in Rowan County on Bear Creek which intersects with the Yadkin River through the South Yadkin.

Nicholas Speaks Bear Creek.png

Bear Creek originates about 15 miles north of the Yadkin in a lake near 398 Log Cabin Road today.

Nicholas Speaks Bear Creek length.png

Nicholas lived someplace along this wooded creek which essentially parallels the road, above.

Nicholas Speaks Bear Creek near mountains.png

By 1797, Richard Speaks sold land in Rowan County on Bear Creek as a resident of Washington County, Tennessee – so apparently Nicholas, now 15, moved with his guardian, because that’s where we find Nicholas first appearing in the records a few years later.

Nicholas Speaks Washington County.png

It would be here that Nicholas met Sarah Faires or Farris whose father, Gideon, is noted in Survey Book I in 1781 as being entitled to 250 acres and stating that actual settlement was made in 1768. Sarah grew up on the frontier.

Washington County was the land of land and opportunity. Nicholas was probably relieved to stay in one place for a few years. His journey from Zachia Manor in Maryland to Rowan County, to Iredell County, back to Rowan and then to Washington County, Virginia, combined with the deaths of his mother, father and step-mother had to be unnerving for a young man. Perhaps they would have destroyed a lesser man, but they may have served to forge Nicholas’s personality and steel him for the future.

Nicholas Speaks Maryland to Washington Co.png

Yes, Nicholas needed to settle down for awhile and stay put.

Wedding Bells

Seven years after arriving in Washington County, Virginia, on August 12, 1804, at the age of 22, Nicholas Speaks married Sarah Faires.

NIcholas Speaks marriage.jpg

The marriage was performed by the Rev. Charles Cummings, a Presbyterian minister reflecting the faith of Sarah’s family. Rev. Cummings is buried at Sinking Springs, one of the churches where he preached.

Sarah and Nicholas probably attended either the Ebbing Springs Church (now the Glade Spring Church), or Sinking Springs Presbyterian church in Abington, Washington County, both of which were served by the fiery Reverend Cummings.

Let’s face it, even if Charles Speak and his wife were both practicing Catholics, there were no Catholic churches in the wilderness of the frontier. By the time Nicholas arrived in Washington County with his guardian, the family would have worshiped at whatever local churches existed.

As one of my minister friends so succinctly put it years ago, people attended the “church of opportunity” where they lived. Worshiping God was more important to them than the trappings and specific sect rules put in place by different versions of Christianity.

By 1804, Nicholas was a practicing Presbyterian.

The First Hint of Methodism

The first hint of how Nicholas might have become Methodist is held in the journal of Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury stating that he had visited in the home of Gideon Faires.

Asbury was one of the first Methodist Bishops in America, volunteering to travel the colonies, then the frontier, on horseback serving in essence as a horseback-riding missionary.

This suggests that it’s likely that Gideon embraced the faith of this new religion of Methodism, probably sometime after his daughter married in 1804, and possibly after Reverend Cummings death in 1816. Perhaps Sarah and Nicholas were also inspired by this new faith as Methodist circuit riders traveled the area evangelizing the new settlers.

The Revival of 1800, a series of evangelical “Camp Meetings” in Kentucky and Tennessee combined both Presbyterian and Methodist communion observances and impressed Asbury deeply. The Camp Meetings in which settlers’ entire families would travel sometimes for days by wagon to “camp” at a meeting house (church) or even in a field to hear evangelical preachers became a staple of the frontier social and religious life. These meetings continued into the 1900s in the area of Virginia and Tennessee where Nicholas established the Speaks Methodist Church.

Wikipedia tells us that Asbury preached in myriad places: courthouses, public houses, tobacco houses, fields, public squares, wherever a crowd assembled to hear him. Beginning in 1784 with his ordination and for the remainder of his life he rode an average of 6,000 miles each year, preaching virtually every day and conducting meetings and conferences. Under his direction, the Methodist church grew from 1,200 to 214,000 members and 700 ordained preachers. Nicholas would become be one of them.

According to cousin Dolores:

Nicholas Speak and his family participated in the camp meetings held at the Jonesville Campground, today the site of the Jonesville Campground Methodist Church. The first Camp Meeting was held about 1810, under a brush arbor. In 1827, a shed or tabernacle was constructed in the center of the grounds and covered with clapboards. The original camps were mostly built of logs inside the enclosure of the rock wall. Crude beds, tables and seats were built and left with the camp from year to year. These camps were burned during the Civil War when the Confederate troops camping there left hurriedly without extinguishing their fires.

“In the early days the people came from far and near, by wagon drawn by oxen or horses, by horseback, or walked to worship at the annual camp meeting. They brought with them enough food, bedding, and cooking utensils for their families and friends, also feed for their livestock, to last the duration of the meeting, a week or ten days.” (Early Settlers of Lee County, VA and Adjacent Areas, Volume I, 1977, Anne W. Laningham, pp. 9-10).

Our ancestor, Nicholas Speak, is listed as a participant in the early church minutes pertaining to this campground. In another reference to the camp meeting held at the Jonesville Camp Ground beginning Aug. 13, 1836 (also the time of a “Quarterly Conference”), Nicholas Speak is listed as a L.E. (local elder) and John Speak (son of Nicholas) is listed as a Classleader. (Ibid., pp. 9-10)

Dola Queener, then of Jacksboro, TN, sent me this explanation of Local Elder, since I am not familiar with Methodism. “Elders are ministers who have completed their formal preparation for the ministry of word, sacrament and order; have been elected itinerant members in full connection with an annual conference; and have been ordained elders in accordance with the order and discipline of the Methodist Church.” This comes from “The Book of Discipline 1984, page 219, Article 432-1.”

Elsewhere, I found reference to Nicholas as a “located minister,” which leads me to believe that Nicholas was the pastor of Speaks Chapel Church and did not preach at other churches on a regular basis.

Nicholas Speaks Jonesville campground.jpg

Photo courtesy Dolores Ham.

Life in Washington County, VA

Like Francis Asbury, Nicholas may have traveled to attend Camp Meetings in Tennessee and Kentucky, but he and Sarah lived in Washington County, VA where 9 of their children were born between 1804 and 1822. The last two children were born after the family moved to Lee County, VA about 1823.

Nicholas and Sarah owned land in Washington County, VA. In deed book 4, pages 231-232, we find that on October 17, 1809 William Brown and Elizabeth his wife of Washington County conveyed 60 acres lying on the south side of the Holston River. Unfortunately, the Holston has three branches in present day Washington County, so without running the deeds forward in time, it’s impossible to know which of the three branches hosted Nicholas’s land.

Then, on December 18, 1810, on page 396 of the same book, Nicholas Speak purchased 28 acres from Robert and Jane Caldwell lying on the north side of Little Stone Mountain, adjacent to William Hickenbottom’s land and also to the corner of Mifflin’s land, also in Washington County.

Little Stone Mountain is on the Powell River in present day Wise County, VA, bordering the Jefferson National Forest. This is rough terrain, and no place close to the Holston River. It’s possible that I’ve misidentified this location, but I don’t find another Little Stone Mountain and Wise County was taken from Washington County.

Nicholas Speaks Little Stone Mountain.png

Then, in deed book 5, pages 61 and 170, on February 16, 1813, Nicholas and Sarah sold both tracts to Christopher Ketring of Washington County, Virginia.

Where they lived from 1813 until 1822 when their last child was born in Virginia is a mystery.

Regardless of where they lived, the War of 1812 interrupted their lives.

War of 1812

Nicholas was drafted to served in the War of 1812 on August 15, 1814 and served in the 7th Regiment of the Virginia Militia in the Company of Abram Fulkerson, serving at Fort Barbour at Norfolk, VA.

Fort Barbour

Nicholas was honorably discharged from Fort Barbour (above) on February 22, 1815, making his way the 380+ miles to home, crossing a mountain range, probably on foot.

NIcholas Speaks Norfolk to Washington Co.png

Nicholas’s military file indicates that he was drafted in Virginia August 15, 1814 and served for 6 months and was honorably discharged at Fort Barbour on February 22, 1815.

Thankfully, even though Nicholas had lost his original discharge papers, in 1850, he petitioned for bounty land.

Nicholas Speaks War of 1812 petition.jpg

Nicholas’s petition from the National Archives packet carries his original signature!

Nicholas Speaks War of 1812 petition Sarah.jpg

Following Nicholas’s death in 1852, in May of 1855, Sarah petitioned for another bounty land grant, adding more information. Sarah and says Nicholas was discharged at Norfolk, VA and that he was drafted in Washington Co., VA She also states that they were married in Washington Co., VA in 1803 by Rev. Cummings, the Presbyterian minister. She provides Nicholas death date as well, June 2, 1852. Sarah signed with her mark.

The Move to Lee County, VA

In the 1820 census, Nicholas and family are living in Washington County, VA, but they moved to Lee County before the 1830 census.

Nicholas Speaks is in the 1830 Lee. Co. Va. census age 40-50, wife 30-40, 2 males 5-10, 1 male 10-15, 2 males 15-20, 1 female under 5, 1 female 5-10, 1 female 10-15. Three people were participating in agriculture.

We know the family moved about 1823 when the first land transaction occurred listing Nicholas as living in Washington County. Since the land was purchased in November 1823, did they move yet that winter, or did they wait until warmer weather?

Nicholas Speaks from Robert Cumings, November 29, 1823 – Lee County Deed book 5, page 145.

Nicholas bought another piece of land in 1837.

Nicholas Speaks from Samuel Ewing April 11, 1837 – Lee County Deed book 7, page 302.

We don’t know what motivated the move to Lee County. It appears that Nicholas and Sarah did not own land in Washington County, so the move to Lee County would not have been complicated by land ownership.

By 1824, Nicholas was on the Lee County, VA tax list, photo courtesy either Dolores or Lola-Margaret.

nicholas land entry

The Early Settlers of Lee County, Virginia book features Nicholas Speak on page 947, providing the following information:

Nicholas Speak of Washington Co., VA, on 29 Nov. 1823, purchased a tract of land lying in Lee, Virginia, USA on the head of a small east branch of Martins Creek (now known as Speaks Branch) containing 520 acres, from Robert E. &Mary Cummings of Washington Co. for $780 (DBK 5, 145).

After the purchase of this land, Nicholas Speak removed with his family to Lee Co., and settled on his newly acquired land where he became a well-known citizen and a leader in the County and the community. Nicholas Speak was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was the founder and a piller of the Church bearing his name–Speaks Chapel.

In deed book 8, p. 216A, Nicholas Speak conveyed the land for the Methodist Episcopal Church to Tandy Welch, William Morgan, Adam Yeary, of Claiborne Co., TN, and Charles Speak and Nathan Hobbs of Lee, Virginia, USA, for one dollar, and specifies that it shall be used for the said church.

Martin’s Creek, Now Speaks Branch

Over time, Martin’s Creek became known as Speak’s Branch.

Nicholas Speaks Speaks Branch.jpg

Speaks Branch, the beautiful little spring that sustained Nicholas and family.

Today, this property is located on Speaks Branch Road.

Nicholas Speaks Speaks Branch Rd.jpg

Speaks Methodist Church

In 1839, Nicholas insured his legacy, and his church, would last what I’m sure he hoped was forever.

Again, from the Early Settlers book under the title of “A Brief History of Speaks Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church:”

In the year 1839, Nicholas SPEAK, Sr., deed to the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church for their use, a tract of land or lot of land, as shown by deed DBK 8, p. 216A, recorded in Lee, Virginia, USA. The deed is the only written evidence I have been able to find in regard to the church. There is no written evidence in existence telling when the church was organized or by whom.

The original building was a large log structure, with seats made by split logs, with holes bored in them with pins inserted for legs. The heating equipment was made by two box like frames about 5 by 5 feet square, and 12 inches high, which were placed on the floor and filled with earth. In the center of these squares was heaped large piles of charcoal, which served as fuel and heated the building nicely, the smoke passing out through the roof as there was no overhead ceiling. The original building was used to teach school in for many years. I attended my first school there 75 years ago. (M. M. SPEAK) (Note by writer: No date is given for the compilation).

After the Civil War when the “division” came in the church, both branches of the Church used this building for worship for many years. Finally a misunderstanding arose in regard to who was the legal owners of the property. Most of the M.E’s withdrew their membership, and built a church over by Powell River. The church is known as the Fairview M.E. Church. This upheaval became near being the undoing of the two branches of the church in this community as neither has been very prosperous since, but, thankful to a ‘faithful few,’ Speaks Chapel is still functioning.

I am not a member of the Methodist Church but I have always been interested in Speaks Chapel and always will be. My parents and all their people were members of this church. “My sincere hope and prayer is: That God in his mercy and wisdom will help the church at Speaks Chapel to become strong again and once again become a ‘Power for God,’ as it was when I was a boy.

Names of some of the original members: Nicholas Speak, Sr. and wife; Jonathan Haynes & wife; James Bartley and wife; John Speak, Sr. and wife; Tandy Welsh; William Morgan; Adam Yeary; Charles Speak; Nathan Hobbs; Fanny Speak Rosenbaum; Rebecca Speak Rosenbaum; Henderson Rosenbaum; Samuel Speak & wife; William Hardee (Hardy) & wife.

Names of some of the present members now living near Speaks Chapel: Lillie Davis, Susie Levins, Mary Fee, James Rosenbaum, Charlie Ball, J. A. Rosenbaum, Vola King, Charlie Rosenbaum, John Ball, Mrs. Robert Saylor,Emma Edds, Roy DeBusk, Mae DeBusk, Sheffie Rosenbaum.” (Note: Mr. Robert L. Rosenbaum, a descendant of the Speak family, contributed the History of Speaks Chapel by M. M. Speak.)

This account given on pp. 951-952 of “Early Settlers of Lee, Virginia, USA”, as was the following deed. “Deed Book 17, p. 215, 30 May 1874: Samuel Speak, John Speak, James A. Speak, Fanny J. Rosenbalm; to John Speak, Stokely Dagley, Tilman T. Ball, John Botner, William H. Speak, James A. Speak, James Bartley, George Baumgardner, Jonathan Haynes, Fi[e]lding Speak, trustees, grant trustees and their successors…west side of Glade Branch, for the benefit of the Methodist Episcopal Church and Methodist Episcopal Church South joingly…free from ourselves, heirs….William A. Speak a justice acknowledged deed, etc.

In a letter to his daughter, Fannie Speak Parrott, Marion Mitchell Speak (b 1866) says, “It was the first church I attended preaching and Sunday School at.” Also, “I attended my first school at the old church house – as there was no school house in the neighborhood when I became school age.

Today, an old school or church bell is installed beside the church although the provenance is unknown.

nicholas church bell

Nicholas assuredly wanted to guarantee that the church would remain viable, which prompted him to deed the acre of land where the church stood to the church trustees, which included his son, Charles Speak.

Cousin Dolores transcribed the deed:

To Tandy Welch, Trustee of Speaks Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church

This Indenture made this ____ day of ____ in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty nine Between Nicholas Speak of Lee County and State of Virginia of one part and Tandy Welch, William Morgan, Adam Yeary, Charles Speak and Nathan Hobbs, trustees in trust for the use and purpose herein after mentioned all of the County of Lee and State aforesaid (Morgan, Welch and Yeary of Claiborne County and State of Tennessee) Witnesseth that the said Nicholas Speak for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar in specie to him in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged hath given granted bargained and sold and by these presents doth grant bargain and sell unto the said Tandy Welch, William Morgan, Adam Yeary, Charles Speak and Nathan Hobbs and their successors (trustees) a certain lot or parcel of land containing one acre and 9 poles lying and being in the county and State aforesaid and bounded as follows Beginning at a white oak on the west side of Glade branch S 150 W 13 poles crossing the branch to a white oak near rocks N700 E 13 poles to a double dogwood & white oak N 150 E 13 poles to a white oak thence a strait line to the Beginning to have and to hold the said tract of land with all appurtenances, and privileges thereunto belonging, or in any ways appertaining unto the said Tandy Welch, William Morgan, Adam Yeary, Charles Speak and Nathan Hobbs and their successors in office forever for the use of the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States according to the rules and disciplin which from time to time may be agreed upon and adopted by the ministers and preachers of the said Church, at their general Conference in the United States. And in further trust and confidence that they shall at all times permit such ministers and preachers, belonging to said M. E. Church to preach and expound the word of God therein. And the said Nicholas Speak doth by these presents warrant and forever defend the before mentioned piece of land with the appurtenances thereto belong unto the before mentioned trustees and their successors in office forever against the claim of all persons whomsoever. In testimony whereof the said Nicholas Speak has hereunto set his hand and seal the day and year aforesaid.

Nicholas Speak {Seal}

At a court of quarter sessions continued and held for Lee County at the courthouse thereof on the 19th day of June 1839 This Indenture of bargain and sale for land between Nicholas Speak of the one part, and Tandy Welch, William Morgan, Adam Yeary, Charles Speak and Nathan Hobbs of the other part, was acknowledged in open court and ordered to be recorded.

During this time, people came from a significant distance to attend church. Both Tandy Welch and Charles Speak lived in the 4 Mile Creek/Slanting Misery area of Claiborne (now Hancock) County, Tennessee on the Powell River, yet they were obviously faithful members.

Nicholas Speaks Speaks Chapel Slanting Misery.png

The earliest known picture of the Speaks Methodist Church is this one taken about 1910. I wonder if the bell was housed in the little steeple structure on top of the church.

Speaks chapel 1910

Another view, judging from the ladder, taken at the same time, photo provided by Dolores Ham.

Nicholas Speaks church 1910.png

The church is small and one room. This photo would have been taken 50 years after the “division” occurred. I can’t help but wonder if the division was precipitated by the Civil War.

This entire region was terribly torn, some fighting and dying for the South, and some for the North. Emotions ran high, not just during the war but for the following half century. Just about everyone had a family member who died in service and some families had members who died fighting for opposite sides. No one was ambivalent.

Nicholas’s son-in-law, William Rosenbalm, died in a Northern Prison Camp and Nicholas’s granddaughter’s husband, Samuel Claxton, died as a result of fighting for the Union. Those are only two examples. These families were ripped apart during and the generation following the Civil War.

Within the family, there is also a persistent rumor of a fire burning the church at one time, but no one seems to have any further information.

speaks chapel 1 cropped

The current church building is this same structure, with a couple of additions, so if a fire occurred, it would have been before roughly 1910. The building in the 1910 photo does not look new, so probably before 1900 if it happened at all. It could possibly have occurred during the Civil War when much unrest occurred in this region and troops from both sides moved through.

Nicholas Speaks church interior 2009

The interior of the church today probably doesn’t look much like the original. You can see more photos by reading the article about when I was baptized in this very church. What a special way to bond with Nicholas with my wonderful cousins in attendance. I felt Nicholas’s presence that day.

For many years, there were less than a dozen church members with a wonderful volunteer minister who could only preach every few weeks. Today many of those members have passed away and the minister is no longer regularly available for the few who are left. I believe the congregation has been combined with another church, and Speaks Chapel is now vacant – which pains my heart terribly.

The future of this historic church and building is uncertain. Currently the Speaks Family Association (SFA) provides some funding for maintenance and upkeep, but without a minister and members, the future may not be as a church.

Nicholas Speaks church commemorative stone.jpg

The Speaks Family Association erected this marker to commemorate the church.

The Cabin

Speaks old cabin cropped

Nicholas’s cabin was abandoned and in grave disrepair in the 1970s. In fact, the family today thought it had simply fallen down and disintegrated, but that wasn’t the case.

Nicholas Speaks cabin 1970s.jpg

The color photo was taken just before what was left of the cabin was disassembled and removed.

Seeing how tiny this cabin actually is, consider that Nicholas and Sarah raised 11 children here, along with several grandchildren.

This is the “mansion house,” Nicholas left in his will for his daughters, Fanny and Rebecca who were not married at the time of his death, which they were to receive after the death of Sarah. “Mansion house” at that time doesn’t have the same connotation that it does today. Mansion house was the primary home on a property. Many mansion houses were referenced as being about 12 by 16 feet, similar to what we see, above.

In the 1970s, a history teacher purchased Nicholas Speak’s cabin for the wood and subsequently, lovingly, integrated it with another cabin left to him by his grandfather.

Nicholas Speaks cabin reconstruction.jpg

The cabin was under re-construction, above.

Nicholas Speaks cabin dovetail corner.jpg

This beautiful building still stands today a few miles away, near Cumberland Gap.

NIcholas Speaks cabin porch.jpg

Not only were the owners extremely gracious and welcoming, inviting us to visit, the view of the Appalachian mountain woodlands is stunning. I could live right here on the porch. I can see myself quilting forever.

NIcholas Speaks cabin welcome.jpg

The owner was extremely generous, inviting me, Lola-Margaret and Dolores to visit and offering us a tour several years ago.

Nicholas Speaks cabin Dolores on porch.jpg

Actually, truth be told, I kidnapped both Lola-Margaret and Dolores and in essence, told them that they both urgently needed to come with me, “right now.” This was literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it was a now-or-never situation. They hurriedly told their spouses they were leaving the hotel with me, leaving the spouses quite befuddled, and we excitedly got into the car, with me explaining on the way. That conversation started out with, “Well, you’re never going to believe this, but….”

To say this visit seemed surreal is an understatement.

Nicholas Speaks cabin winter.jpg

This little cabin is stunningly beautiful. The downstairs is living area, with a contemporary kitchen added, out of sight in the rear. The owners sleep upstairs in a loft.

Nicholas Speaks cabin fall.jpg

Nicholas would love that Christmas is still celebrated inside his cabin with children’s voices echoing through the years .

Nicholas Speaks cabin Christmas.jpg

The boards on the rear wall are Nicholas’s. The owner cataloged each board, so he knows which sections are his grandfather’s and which are Nicholas’s.

NIcholas Speaks cabin hearth.jpg

The hearth and chimney stones were salvaged as well, although don’t recall if this hearth was either partly or totally from Nicholas’s cabin. I do know the current owner salvaged everything outside and inside, so if there were stones, they are here now.

NIcholas Speaks cabin Dolores Ham.jpg

Dolores sitting in the corner by the fireplace which is certainly the main focus of the room.

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It’s dark inside the cabin, even when it’s bright outside. The photo of Dolores and the one above were taken just minutes apart.

Nicholas Speaks cabin corner.jpg

The opposite corner. The doors to the right lead to a contemporary adjoined kitchen.

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The cabin is actually very small.

Nicholas Speaks cabin Lola-Margaret Hall.jpg

This is a terribly out-of-focus photo, but it’s Lola-Margaret in a corner of Nicholas’s cabin just the same and smiling like crazy.

Not only did this wonderful man salvage Nicholas’s cabin, barely saving it in the nick of time, he also saved Nicholas’s stepping stone from the front door into the cabin. He told me he just couldn’t leave it behind, abandoned.

NIcholas Speaks cabin step garden.jpg

He put the front step stone in his garden, until I visited when he asked me if I wanted the stone.


Are you kidding me?

The stone several of my ancestors trod, and some every single day of their lives?

Of course I want the stone!!!

We hoisted the stone into the back of my Jeep with much effort. That one rock made that entire trip worthwhile.

Nicholas Speaks cabin step here.jpg

The stone today that Nicholas’s descendants continue to utilize on a daily basis.

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Outside my door. Eight generations and counting!

I was also gifted with these metal fireplace frames that came out of the cabin, but weren’t original to Nicholas’s time.

NIcholas Speaks cabin fireplace frame.jpg

I gave this to a descendant whose ancestors lived there during the time when this grate would have been in use. She and her husband made it into a beautiful “fireplace” in their home, with the flames painted by a talented friend. The items on the mantel also descend from this family line. It warms my heart to see this keepsake back where it belongs – with a loving family member.

The Barn

Nicholas clearly farmed in addition to preaching. Many preachers, especially of small churches were never paid. In the 1840 census, Nicholas still had 3 people participating in agriculture. He had 3 males plus himself. Two were older males. The identity of the second man aged between 60-69 is a mystery, but Nicholas and the two younger males were probably the ones engaged in farming.

An old barn remaining on what was the original property, near the church, retains the notches of yesteryear.

Nicholas Speaks barn.jpg

Did Nicholas hew these boards and strip the bark with an adze? They are clearly not milled, as you can see the individual adze marks.

This could well have been the barn that accompanied Nicholas’s cabin. In many of the earliest mountain homes, the barn was larger than the house. That was true on the farm I grew up on more than a hundred years later.

As we’ll see in a minute that Nicholas had lots of livestock.

The 1850 Agricultural Census

I expected with a small cabin, a large family and being a minister that the family struggled. In 1850, Nicholas is shown on the regular census as age 68, Sarah age 64, two unmarried daughters and a laborer living with them. At that age, Nicholas surely needed help with the farm.

Nicholas Speaks 1850 census.png

I thought they would have probably been poor, and that everyone in that geography was probably equally as poor. However, Nicholas listed the value of his real estate as $4000, substantially more than many of his neighbors.

Looking at the 1850 agricultural census for Lee County, VA shows something surprising. Compared to other families, Nicholas was doing quite well, by comparison to his neighbors.

Category Nicholas’s Answer
Improved acres of land 150
Unimproved acres of land 463 (can’t read the middle number well)
Cash value 4000
Value of farming implements and machinery 150
Horses 14
Asses and mules 0
Milk cows 18
Working oxen 0
Sheep 80
Swine 80
Value of livestock 800
Wheat bushels 150
Rye bushels 0
Indian corn bushels 2000
Oats bushels 700
Rice, pounds 0
Tobacco, pounds 10
Finned colon bales of 400 0
Wool, pounds 160
Peas and beans, bushels 15
Irish Potatoes (white), bushels 5
Sweet potatoes, bushels 100
Barley, bushels 0
Buckwheat, bushels 0
Value or orchard products 0
Wine, gallons 0
Value of produce in market gardens 0
Butter, pounds 100 (or 600, can’t read)
Cheese, pounds 0
Hay, tons 1
Clover seed, bushels 5
Other grass seeds 0
Hops 0
Hemp, dew rotted 0
Hemp, water rotted 0
Flax, pounds 200
Flaxseed, pounds 25
Silk cocoons 0
Maple sugar, pounds 15
Cane sugar 0
Molasses 0
Beeswax and honey, pounds 30
Value of home-made manufactures 150
Value of animas slaughtered 300

What can we take away from this? Nicholas had a lot of livestock, which probably explains the large barn, or maybe he even built more than one barn. Perhaps his children and their families were helping him farm. That’s likely, because James, John and Joseph Speaks were all neighbors and none of them owned property. They were probably all living in cabins on Nicholas’s land and the family shared the farm’s produce.

One thing seems to be assured – no one was going hungry.

Somebody was weaving and churning butter. I’d guessing that would have been the two unmarried daughters who were 23 and 25. In a farm economy, everyone worked from as soon as they were big enough until they died or became disabled.

Nicholas’s Will

According to Sarah, Nicholas died on June 2, 1852. He apparently knew he was gravely ill, because he wrote his will on April 22nd, and the will was subsequently probated on June 21, 1852. Men during that time didn’t write their will until it seemed a foregone conclusion that they were going to need one – and soon. That’s why there are so many intestate deaths.

Given the date the will was executed provides us some hint as to how long Nicholas was ill before he died. By late April, the handwriting was on the wall, so to speak, and 6 weeks later, Nicholas was gone.

I can’t help but wonder, given that he was a minister, if Nicholas was looking forward to passing over to what he perceived was his just reward. He would joyfully reunite with the people who had gone on before and wait for the people who would follow. Death might not have been frightening at all – at least not to Nicholas. But Sarah, who probably sat by his side as be became gravely ill, then held his hand as he passed over, was probably devastated, lonely and wondered how she was ever going to manage that farm alone, with only two daughters left at home to help. As Lola-Margaret says when she “channels” Sarah – she was surely grateful for her grown sons who lived close by.

I, Nicholas Speak a citizen of Lee County, in the State of Virginia being of sound mind and memory, do make, ordain, and publish this, as, and for my last will and testament hereby all former wills by me made.

Firstly, I give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Sarah Speak all my estate, both real and personal, during her natural life, if she during that period remain a widow, but if she marry then it is my will that my said wife be endowed of my estate as though I had made no will.

Secondly, it is my will that, at the death of my said wife Sarah Speak, one hundred fifty acres of land be laid off so as to include the mansion house, outbuildings and spring of the tract on which I now reside for my daughters Fanny Speak and Rebecca Speak and give and bequeath the said one hundred fifty acres of land to my said daughters Fanny and Rebecca and to their heirs forever a moiety to each.

Thirdly, at the termination of the estate of my wife Sarah in my land as herein before provided I give and bequeath to each of my sons Samuel Speak, John Speak and James A. Speak and to their several heirs one hundred fifty acres not herein before disposed of, to Jesse C. Speak (my son) I give and bequeath ninety three acres of my land to him and his heirs forever.

It is my will that, if my before mentioned sons Samuel, John, James A. and Jesse cannot agree upon lines of division between them as regards the lands I have herein bequeathed to them then I desire the Court of Lee County to appoint three Commissioners to lay off the said lands in lots as nearly equal in value as may be, quality and quantity being considered and then for my sons to decide the ownership of the several tracts by lots.

The condition upon which I give and bequeath the herein before mentioned lands to my sons Samuel Speak, Johns Speak, James A. Speak and Jesse C. Speak and their several heirs, is that my sons pay jointly and in proportion of the value of their respective lots of lands the sum of seven hundred and fifty dollars as follows, to wit, one hundred fifty dollars to Sarah Bartlet, the like sum of one hundred fifty dollars to my daughter Jane Ball, and the like sum of one hundred fifty dollars to the six children of my deceased son Charles Speak to be equally divided between them the said children, the like sum of one hundred fifty dollars to the eight children of my decd son Joseph to be equally divided between them, and the remaining one hundred fifty dollars to the five children of my decd son Thomas, to be equally divided between them the said children and I direct that the herein before mentioned payments of money to be made by my said sons Samuel, John, James A. and Jesse C. shall be made at the expiration of one year after the death of my wife Sarah Speak to such of the children herein indicated as shall then be of the age of twenty one years or more and then to all the other children as they respectively arrive at the age of twenty one years.

I also give and bequeath to each of my daughters Fanny and Rebecca a horse worth sixty dollars to be delivered to them at the death of my wife Sarah Speak. It is my will that the remaining portion of my estate not otherwise disposed of by my wife at her death, be equally distributed among my heirs at law.

I hereby constitute and appoint my son John Speak Executor of this my last will and testament of which I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 22nd day of April in the year 1852.

Nicholas Speak (SEAL)

The foregoing instrument of writing was signed and acknowledged _in our presence by Nicholas Speak and declared by him as his last will and Testament, and we have subscribed our names thereto at his request as witnesses. Emuel Stafford, John M. Crockett

Nicholas seems to have forgotten about a land warrant, because he added a codicil on My 25th.

Whereas I, Nicholas Speak of the County of Lee and State of Virginia have made my last will and testament in writing bearing the date 22nd day of April eighteen hundred fifty two and have hereby made a disposition of all my land and personal property as will be seen by Reference thereto except my land warrant, which land warrant, now I do by this my writing which I declare to be codicil to my said will to be part thereof will and direct that said land warrant be given to the heirs of Joseph Speak they be eight in number four neffues and four nieces with all its appurtenances as theirs to have and to hold forever and lastly it is my desire that this my present codicil be annexed to and made a part of my last will and testament to all intents and purposes in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this the 25th day of May in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred fifty two.

Nicholas Speak (SEAL)

The above instrument of one sheet was at the date thereof …to us by the testator Nicholas Speak to be a codicil to be annexed to his last will and testament and he achnowledged to each of us that he had subscribed the same and we at his request sign our names hereto as witnesses

Emuel Stafford (SEAL)

Samuel Speak (SEAL)Virginia

At a court of quarter sessions begun and held for Lee County at the Courthouse on Monday the 21st day of June 1852.

The last will and testament of Nicholas Speak deed was proved by the oaths of Emanuel Stafford and John M. Crockett witnesses thereto…and the codicil to the last will was proved by Emanuel Stafford and Samuel Speak and on motion of John Speak Executor therein named together with Cavender N. Robinson, William Collin and William S. Ely his security entered into bond in the penalty of $1000….


Will Book No. 2, Page 209 – Sale Bill of property sold by Robert M. Bales Committee for Sarah Speaks on the 12th day of February 1859.

Admitted to record Monday 20th June 1859 – H.J. Morgan CC

From time to time property of Sarah Speak was sold by Robert M. Bales, Committee.

Sarah Faires Speaks died February 20, 1865.

April 1, 1865 – We the undersigned after being duly sworn have appraised or valued the following articles or species of property belonging to the Estate of Sarah Speak deceased (to wit) Stephen X. Bales Vincent Bales Appraisers Jos. A. Hardy

Admitted to record 28th March 1866

Dolores Ham tells us:

In Sept. 1866, John Speak filed suit for the sale of lands of Nicholas Speak and a division of proceeds or if that cannot be done, then a division of lands. The land was ultimately divided. Many descendants are mentioned in this document, including several who lived out of state.

Children of Sarah Faires and Nicholas Speak

It’s likely that Nicholas and Sarah had one child that that did not survive. They were married in August 1804, and their first child was born in November 1805. Children arrived every 18 months to two years, except for a 3 year span between Samuel and John, both born during the month of January in 1809 and 1812, respectively. A child likely arrived and died about mid-1810. Given the high infant mortality rate at that time, Nicholas and Sarah probably felt God was watching over them and considered themselves lucky to have lost “only one.”

  • Charles Speak, b. November 19, 1805 in Washington County, VA, married 27 Feb. 1823 to Ann McKee in Washington County, Va., died in Lee County, VA between 1840 and 1850.
  • Sarah Jane Speak, b. May 23, 1807 in Washington County, VA. married 1829 in Lee County, VA to James Bartley and died in 1859.
  • Samuel Patton Speak, b. January 29, 1809 in Washington Co. VA; married in Lee County, VA about 1827 to Sarah Hardy. He died March 20, 1861.
  • John Speak, b January 2, 1812 in Washington County, VA; m. Mary Dean and second to Susannah Callahan in 1870. He died after that but before February 27, 1896.
  • Joseph Speak, b. July 20, 1813 in Washington County, VA, died after the 1850 census and before his father wrote his will in April 1852. He was married to Leah Carnes in 1832 by his father.
  • Thomas Speak, b. November 26, 1815 in Washington County, VA, died possibly in 1843, but assuredly before his father wrote his will in April 1852, married Mary “Polly” possibly Ball.
  • Jane V. Speak, b. February 12. 1818 in Washington County, VA; m. January 15. 1855 to George W. Ball, II and died in 1878.
  • Jesse C. Speak, b. 3 July 1820 in Washington County, VA; m. in 1842 to Mary Haynes and died on July 26, 1878 in Laurel Co. KY.
  • James Allen Speak, b. June 15. 1822 in Washington County, VA; d. 9 January 1894 in Lee County, VA. m. about 1844 to Mary Jane Kelly.
  • Fanny J. Speak, b. June 25, 1824 in Lee County, VA, d. May 11, 1906.  Married 2 Nov. 1859 to William Henderson Rosenbaum, as his second wife. Fanny’s sister, Rebecca was his first wife. Rosenbaum died September 26 1864 at Camp Douglas, IL as a prisoner during the Civil War.
  • Rebecca Speak, b. July 12, 1826 in Lee County, VA, d. February 9, 1859, m.  February 9, 1854 William Henderson Rosenbaum as his first wife.

The Cemetery

Across the road from the Speaks Methodist Church is the family cemetery. Based on Nicholas’s will, there were probably at least three sons buried there before he joined them.

NIcholas Speaks cemetery door.jpg

In fact, you can see the cemetery as you look out the door of the church. Did Nicholas think about his departed children as he preached?

Assuredly, Nicholas had preached their funerals and probably laid them to rest as well as several unknown grandchildren.

Did Nicholas think about this every time he saw the cemetery, or did the cemetery provide him comfort to feel that in some way, they were still close?

Nicholas Speaks church from cemetery.jpg

The view of the church from the cemetery. This little white church in the wildwood, at the base of the mountain feels so soul-soothing to me. They ghosts of my ancestors embrace their descendants who visit.

Nicholas and Sarah are assuredly buried here, but their graves, along with many others are unmarked or marked only with now-anonymous field stones. Of course, during the lifetimes of his children and grandchildren, no one needed to mark the location of graves. Everyone simply knew, but that knowledge was lost over time.

Nicholas Speaks cemetery stones.jpg

Several years ago, the Speaks Family Association purchased a memorial stone and placed it in the cemetery.

Nicholas Speaks stone.jpg

The back lists their children.

NIcholas Speaks stone back.jpg

The stone is clearly close to Nicholas and Sarah and many of their children, grandchildren and descendants. The cemetery is small, on a hill overlooking the church.

Nicholas Speaks church from stone.jpg

Perhaps Nicholas has listened to the sermons every Sunday for the past 167 years – over 8500 messages delivered to the faithful in the church left for posterity by Nicholas.

Have subsequent ministers felt his gentle hand and unknown influence?

Nicholas Speaks unmarked stones.jpg

Does Nicholas rest under one of these stones? Does his son, Charles, my ancestor, along with his wife, Ann McKee? Surely so.

They are here.

NIcholas Speaks cemetery 2.jpg

It’s difficult for me to walk away from these places so loaded with the history and bones of my ancestors. They draw me back, again and again.

I always have to take one last painful look backward as I leave, sometimes knowing I’ll never return.

This land is infused with their DNA, and mine.

Nicholas’s DNA

The Speaks Family Association funded several DNA tests for known Speaks direct male linear descendants several years ago. Men inherit the Y chromosome from their fathers intact, so the Y chromosome  would be passed from Nicholas to his sons, and them to their sons, to Speaks males today – intact. The goal was to confirm a connection to the Lancashire “Gisburn” Speaks line, which was successfully achieved.

The good news is that the Speaks Y DNA is rather rare, meaning that 8 out of 11 matches at 111 markers are to other Speaks men, some of which are from the Twiston and Gisburn area of Lancashire. There’s no question that the US Speaks line descends from a common ancestor with those gentlemen.

Unfortunately, many early records are missing and the best we can offer today are approximations as to when that common ancestor lived. We know for sure that it was before 1633 when our immigrant ancestor. Thomas Speake was born, and probably before 1600, but beyond that, we can’t say. In fact, trying to solve this mystery is why we engaged in DNA testing. Some questions have been answered, but not all.

NIcholas Speaks Y DNA.png

From the Speaks DNA Project, open to all descendants, Nicholas’s branch is haplogroup I-BY14004, which is separated slightly from the Twiston group whose haplogroup is I-BY14009.

Nicholas Speaks block tree.png

The Y DNA block tree shows these two brother branches side by side.

The potential intersection of these two branches could be as long ago as 800 years, which would put the common ancestor in the 1200s. Once the private variants are resolved and potentially placed upstream in the tree, the SNP generations could be reduced by 300 or 400 years, so the 1500s or 1600s which would place the common ancestor not long before the records end.

We do know that the surname exists before the records begin in the churches in the area, so the year 1200, give or take, might not be as far-fetched as we might think. On the other hand, if the average SNP generation is 80 years instead of 100, then we’re dealing with 640 years which is approximately the year 1360. Of course, we’re dealing with averages, and who is exactly average?

Other matching surnames on the Big Y test are Carey, Hutchinson, Holmes, Hudson and Ashby, but these men are not STR matches which means that they are more distantly related than the Speaks men are to each other, but still within about 1500 years.

Moving up the haplotree, the first SNP that shows a cluster is I-BY1183, confirming the rarity of the Speak Y DNA.

Nicholas Speaks I-BY1183 SNP cluster.png

The two locations where clusters are found are dead center in England and in Germany as well, which could indicate that the testers knew the country where their ancestor was found, but not the more specific location.

This SNP looks to be about 3500 years old, roughly, and since it’s also found in Germany, one of our ancestors might have migrated from this region, or both groups of men could have migrated from another common region.

NIcholas Speaks I-S2606 SNP cluster.png

One branch further up the tree, meaning further back in time, S2606, between 4000 and 4500 years of age, shows a scattering across Europe as well as the Lancashire region of England, meaning of course that’s where the ancestors of those testers are found. This causes me to wonder how men carrying those SNPs managed to arrive in Lancashire, and no place else in England. Haven’t enough men yet tested, or is there a story there waiting to be discovered?

Did our line develop additional mutations, while their line didn’t? Or have they simply not tested as deeply as our line has?

It’s important to note that while these clusters show the location of the most distant ancestors of people who carry this terminal SNP, those ancestral lines may not have always lived there.

We know that haplogroup I migrated from the Near East into Europe at some point after the last ice age which occurred about 12,000 years ago and that by about 5,000 years ago, the parent haplogroup of our ancestors was found in El Mirador, Spain, having been discovered in an archaeological dig.

Did Nicholas’s ancestor migrate to Europe via the Mediterranean or through the Caucasus? We don’t know yet, but hopefully with the increasing number of people testing and ancient DNA remains being sequenced, more will be revealed in the next few months and years.

Further complicating analysis, the Y chromosome of ancient DNA is not analyzed to the level that we are able to analyze contemporary testers. Once the original academic analysis of ancient DNA is complete, it’s seldom updated as technology improves.

Nicholas’s Autosomal DNA

The Y DNA of Nicholas applies directly to all Speaks surname males. The historical information that the Y DNA conveys applies to all Speaks descendants, females and males who are related but don’t carry the Speak surname. Thankfully, autosomal DNA can be inherited by all descendants.

Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage and GedMatch all three provide segment information to testers that can be compared with other descendants to see which DNA segments carried by descendants today originated with Nicholas and Sarah. The Speaks DNA Project is at Family Tree DNA and welcomes everyone.

Using DNAPainter, I paint segments that descend from a couple, because unless you have the ability to match against the descendants of both sets of the couple’s parents, you can’t tell whether the segment came from Nicholas or Sarah.

NIcholas Speaks DNAPainter.png

I carry pieces of DNA from Nicholas or Sarah on chromosomes 4, 6 and 10. My favorite shared segment, though, is the large 18.2 cM, 4496 SNP segment that I share with cousin Lola-Margaret. That nice juicy large segment seals my special bond with Lola-Margaret.

There’s just something I love about looking at the pictures of Lola-Margaret and me, along with other cousins on our various adventures and knowing that our crazy sense of both adventure and humor might just have been inherited from Nicholas himself.

NIcholas Speaks cousins Charles County MD.jpg

Lola-Margaret, me and cousin Susan standing in “Speaks Meadow,” the land of Bowling Speaks, Nicholas’s great-grandfather, in Charles County, Maryland a few years ago on a great adventure.

NIcholas Speaks Lola-Margaret and me.jpg

Lola-Margaret and me searching for our common love, rocks, on our ancestral land. You might just say we’re the same kind of crazy😊

There’s just nothing like roaming ancestral lands, making discoveries and celebrating ancestors with a DNA-sharing, adventure-loving bonded cousin! Without Nicholas, I would never have found Lola-Margaret, Dolores, Susan, and my other very special cousins. I wonder if Nicholas is watching, laughing and chuckling, or maybe being horrified at our escapades.

Regardless, I am eternally grateful for them, all because of him!



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16 thoughts on “Nicholas Speaks (1782-1852), Founder of Speaks Chapel United Methodist Church – 52 Ancestors #234

  1. I always enjoy the way you weave your research into a profile of an ancestor in a way that brings them to life, and makes them so much more than just a name and a date on a tree. Many times, after reading your blogs, I have been inspired to dig more deeply or search more thoroughly for information on my own ancestors.

  2. Wonderfully done, Roberta! Thanks so very much. So happy to share descent from Nicholas Speak with you!

  3. Thank you for sharing! This is such a wonderful account and I love that you were able to visit and now have that stone and other things to remember from your trip.

  4. I started reading hot onthe trail of Gabriel Bobo in Charles CO, MD and not finding him kept reading until low and behold you made your way to Washington Co, VA where my Dad, Thomas I Wright came from. His Mother was Sarah Frances Rosenbalm d. 1916. I recently traveled down through Smyth Co, VA to visit a gravesite of The Dungans in the St Clair Primitive Baptist Church. Then we headed for the Zion Methodist Church in Damascus. Many of my family there with others at Wright Cemetery. The Historical Society had moved in Abington so I needed to stop by there, too. I arrived to a sign that said closed on the door. I am a member of this society and so I was disappointed. But the door was open a bit due to a brick in the door and I heard voices. There were members transcribing in the back room. I apologized for coming in but they assured me that they left the brick in the door for just that reason. I didn’t navigate the new Society headquarters at all hoping that I will someday get there again. So I didn’t find my Charles Co, MD ancestor nor the history of John Robert Dungans second wife Rebecca Wilson b. 1782 but I did photograph the grave in Smyth Co. and it was an awesome find. The stone was Purchased by the Indiana grandchildren for John Robert and his first wife Frances Gaskins Dungan. I had recently learned that I descended from the second wife Rebecca. It was tricky because I knew I had a Frances Gaskins Dungan Rhea in my direct line. But my great great grandmother was named after her father’s first wife but bore by the second wife. The stone was on Find a grave but didn’t tell the whole story. Smack dab up against the new stone is the old stone, with no markings and a matching ancient stone next to it and on the other side two spots where another stone was. The pieces of that stone are tucked between the old stone and the “new” stone. This discovery meant the world to me and I just had to share. And I am a Michigander that collects rocks. I enjoy your narratives immensely.

  5. Roberta, I notice that a variant of Beckwith was the (unusual) first name of a Speaks ancestor in Maryland .Fyi, Beckwith is a surname in my family tree–also in Maryland.

  6. Thanks for these details, Roberta. I remember that we “met” on the Cumberland Gap group, but reading this helps me see how close our ancestors lived. Several Murphy relatives (an uncle and 3-4 nephew brothers) moved to Caswell Co, North Carolina from York Co, Pennsylvania after 1759. My ancestor, Alexander Murphy then moved from NC to Virginia “to the settlement of Clinch” in the late 1700s, living in Russell Co, in 1800, and then probably went right through Lee County west into Kentucky and died there. His widow is in the 1810 census for Knox Co KY (now Whitely Co). My point is that we’re not DNA kin, but came from that same Cumberland Gap area and then on to Missouri and Illinois, etc. So your commentary makes this clearer to me, especially that settlers were leaving NC for some reason and going north into western Virginia. Thanks.

  7. Wonderful article. Nicholas Speak and Sarah Faires Speak are my maternal great-great-great grandparents. Twice over! My grandfather, Ben King, whose mother was Sarah Ellen Bartley, is descended from Sarah Jane Speak. My grandmother, Vola Rosenbaum, is descended from Fanny J. Speak.

      • I don’t know Lola-Margaret Hall, but she is a Family Finder match for me and my mother (Velma King Todd), as is Dolores Ramsey Ham. I have 72 total shared cM with Lola-Margaret and my mother has 122 cM. I don’t have any matches on chromosomes 4 and 6, but I do have 1.43 cM (500 SNPs) on 10. My largest segment match with Lola-Margaret is 38.54 (7,175 SNPs) on chromosome 11. My mother doesn’t have any matches with Lola-Margaret on chromosomes 6 and 10, but does have 2 segment-matches of 13.80 cM (2,833 SNPs) and 14.90 cM (3,000 SNPs) on chromosome 4. She also has a large match on chromosome 11: 41.72 cM (7,875 SNPs). And she has a 15.90 cM (2,269 SNPs) match on chromosome 22 and a small 2.61 cM (500 SNPs) X chromosome match. We both share the same 14.65 cM (2,454 SNPs) match on chromosome 19 with Lola-Margaret. Dolores Ham must descend from Sarah Jane Speak since she lists the Bartley and Randolph surnames (Willoughby Randolph is one of my ancestors), and I assume she must have Fletcher ancestors too. I have 87 total shared cM with Dolores and my mother has 201 cM. I have matches with Dolores of 16.62 cM (4,200 SNPs) on chromosome 1, 19.92 cM (3,272 SNPs) on chromosome 5, 10.38 cM (2,292 SNPs) on chromosome 20, and 14.25 cM (2,649 SNPs) on chromosome 22. My mother has matches with Dolores of 26.35 cM (3,968 SNPs) and 15.18 cM (4,000 SNPs) on chromosome 1, 20.76 cM (2,627 SNPs) on chromosome 3, 13.49 cM (2,483 SNPs) on chromosome 4, 20.66 cM (3,372 SNPs) on chromosome 5, 27.58 cM (5,894 SNPs) on chromosome 14, 17.57 cM (3,349 SNPs) on chromosome 17, 10.01 cM (2,192 SNPs) on chromosome 20, 14.25 cM (2,649 SNPs) on chromosome 22, and a large 46.44 cM (4,550 SNPs) X chromosome match. I searched for Estes matches and found 18 for both myself and my mother, but apparently you are not a match for either of us. That is disappointing. I joined the Speak Project a long time ago, but haven’t kept up with it. If you think it might be helpful, I will add my mother to the Speak project.

  8. I was so delighted to see this article. Almost word for word I have found doing my Ancestry on I did the DNA and Nicolas Speaks is my 4th Grandfather. It comes from the Kelly side, Martha Speaks was a 2nd Grandmother of mine, her son Samuel Patton Speaks was my 3rd GGFather….and Nicolas was my 4th GGFather. My father was a Kelly. Some of what I have found in my research blends in with yours and I am delighted to hear even more. I have found history at my age of almost 70 is very important to me even more so now that I have time to do some of the research. Thank you for your research and writing it for relatives of Nicolas Speaks to find and read.

    Annette Kelley

  9. I am descendent of Sarah Speake and John Withers. I believe that Sarah’s mother was Esther Lindsey. I have not been able to locate the name of Sarah’s father. Sarah and John had a daughter, Delia. I descend from the Withers/Brooks/Speake line. I would appreciate any information. Thank you.

  10. Pingback: The Ancestors are SPEAKing: An 18-Year Y-DNA Study That Led Us Home – 52 Ancestors #381 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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