Capt. John Dobkins Jr. (c 1710 – c 1788): One Rugged Frontiersman – 52 Ancestors #376

We know nothing about John Dobkins Jr. between his birth and when we first find his father, John Dobkins Sr. in Orange County, Virginia in 1735 when he received a bond from Benjamin Borden for a patent on 150 acres in the Borden Grant.

Borden, a land speculator, had moved to this area by April 1734 and received a patent on October 3, 1734 for the area including Smith’s Creek, where John Dobkins Sr. settled.

Borden also received 100,000 acres along the branches of the James River in the upper part of the Shenandoah Valley from the Governor’s council in May of 1735.

This is noteworthy because Borden’s land was supposed to be south of the Beverly grant, outside of the area claimed by Lord Fairfax. The fact that Borden is guaranteeing John a good title tells us that his land should be south of what would become known as the Fairfax line. This is an obscure, but important piece of data that we will eventually need to locate John Dobkins Sr.’s land.

John Dobkins’s surname was sometimes written Dobikins, Dobbins, and other sound-alike derivatives.

Clearly, his son, John Jr., probably born about 1710, was with him when he arrived. The Dobkins family was one of the first 50 families to settle west of the Blue Ridge, or anyplace in the Shenandoah Valley, for that matter.

In the book, The Dobkins Family in America by Cecil B. Smyth Jr., Cecil tells us that in 1730 Jost Hite and Robert McKay advertised to residents of the Philadelphia, PA area that land was available for settlement west of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Northern Neck of Virginia. They had obtained grants of 40,000 and 100,000 acres. Among the takers was John Dobkins Sr. and his wife, Mary.

According to Smythe, John Dobkins settled in what was Orange County, VA in 1731 or 1732, although I can’t find anything before 1735. The first settlers did arrive at that time, but additional groups from other areas, including the Scots-Irish, Quakers, Germans, and other protestant groups arrived over the next couple of years too. This part of Orange County would later divide into Augusta and Frederick County.

However, there were no courts opened in Frederick County before 1743 nor in Augusta before 1745. Records for Frederick and Augusta counties were recorded in Orange County until 1743. The area that became Shenandoah County was part of Augusta and Frederick counties from 1738 to 1753. In 1753, the line dividing those counties was moved up the Valley and made identical with the Fairfax line. In 1772, Dunmore County was established from Frederick and in 1778 was renamed to Shenandoah County. Yes, land division and county formation on the western waters was much like sausage-making. Messy.

Found in Pioneers of Old Frederick County, VA by Cecil O’Dell.

John Dobikin Sr. (b 1685 c) received a bond from Benjamin Borden on 24 September 1735 for ‘150 pounds Sterling to make patent in full and ample manner as the King gives me” on 150 acres, part of Benjamin Borden’s 3.300 acre tract. The 6 January 1735/36 Morgan Morgan/Peter Woolf census listed John Sr. as a settler on the McKay, Hite, Duff and Green 100,000 acre Colony of Virginia grant land.

Traveling Ministers

In the early frontier settlements, circuit-riding ministers were quite welcome. They provided religious services and brought news from the outside world. Maybe even letters from family members. Without churches, baptisms couldn’t be performed, and funerals were clearly handled locally by someone saying a few words over the casket of the deceased.

One of the earliest, if not the earliest minister to travel to the Shenandoah Vannoy to service the founding families was the German immigrant, Lutheran Reverend John Stoever.

Fortunately, he recorded the location of the baptisms as he traveled from place to place.

His first recorded Shenandoah baptisms were performed on March 31, 1735 when he baptized numerous babies and children. Some had been born as early as 1727, but most were born in the 1730s.

Many families had several children in need of baptism. They probably hadn’t seen a minister, or heard a sermon in a long time.


The year after John Dobikins Sr. received his grant, his son, John Jr. and daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, gave birth to their son, Thomas, who was baptized when Reverend Stoever came to preach.

Baptism Records of Rev. John Stoever

  • John Dawbin (Shenandoah.) – Dawbin, Thomas, b. Nov. 8, 1736; bap. June 8, 1737. Teste: James Gill

John Dawbin and his wife Elizabeth also witnessed the following baptisms, children of James Guill:

  • John Dawbin testis, June 8, 1737, baptism of Thomas Guill, son of James.
  • Elizabeth Dawbin, testis, June 8, 1737, baptism of James Guill, son of James.

Years later, in 1753, one Thomas Dobekin was a chain carrier on Stoney Creek, on land adjoining John Dobekin. He would have been 17.

That was the last mention of Thomas, so he seems to have disappeared, leaving no breadcrumbs behind.

In the book, Tinkling Springs and Her Families, we discover the Presbyterian Reverend John Craig’s record of baptisms from 1740-1749:

John Dobbins children Jean and John both on March 6, 1741, at Rockfish, a settlement and meeting house east of the Blue Ridge and 15 miles SE of Tinkling Spring.

The fact that two children were baptized at the same time suggests that the church was far away. And indeed, it was.

Looking at Google maps, the closest church to John Dobkins Sr.’s home was actually Tinkling Springs, not Rockfish. It was even 9 miles further to where John Dobkins Jr. lived in the mid-1740s, which makes me wonder if the minister might have gone into the “backcountry” settlement preaching and baptizing children.

No additional Dobkins children were baptized, ever, in this church, nor do we find additional baptism records for this family by Stoever who was in Shenandoah again on May 1, 1739, performing baptisms.

This would suggest that at least one child was born, and died, in the intervening years.

While normally finding a Presbyterian baptism would suggest a Scots-Irish family, I’m not so sure this time. In the backcountry during this timeframe, there were no other churches. As one of my Brethren cousins who is a minister says of frontier families – “people attended the church of opportunity.”

We know from these records that by 1741, John Jr. had at least three children. Thomas, John, a son named for himself (and his father,) and a daughter named Jean. We find Thomas mentioned one more time. Nothing more about Jean.

We don’t find John unless the John who is found on the next frontier with John Jr.’s other children in 1787 is actually his son, John. There is no marriage record for John, but there is a hint from the Johnson family descendants who had recorded the marriages of both Darcus and Margaret Johnson to Dobkins boys. That family reported that a third daughter of Peter Johnson and Mary Polly Philips, Rachel, may have married a John Dobkins. Researchers had discounted that, in part, because, before finding the baptismal record for John Dobkins (the third) in 1741, no one knew he existed.

We know that John Dobkins Jr. did have other children:

  • Reuben was probably born in the 1740s
  • Jacob was born in 1751
  • Evan was probably born in the 1740s or early 1750s
  • Rebecca was probably born before 1763. She married Patrick Shields in 1783, but we know nothing further.

John Dobkins Jr.

Several trees show John Dobkins Jr.’s wife, Elizabeth, as a Moore. There is no evidence for this, and I suspect that assumption occurred because John Dobkins lived next to and sold his land to Thomas Moor.

That’s backwards though, because normally it’s the father-in-law who sells to the son-in-law.

We know that John was married by 1735, and it’s not unlikely that he married before arriving on the frontier with his father.

I found nothing to indicate that John Dobkins’ wife was a Moore, although there’s nothing to preclude it either.

Early Records

Prior to 1746, when the older John Dobkins died, it’s sometimes difficult to tell which John Dobkins is being referenced. The John Dobbins in the following record could have been either father or son.

  • Pages 234-37. 23-24 Sept. 1741. William Beverley, Esq., of Essex County to Samuel Doeg (Doak) of Orange County. Lease and release; for ₤20 current money. 647 acres in Beverley Mannor… corner to John Mitchell… Alexr. Brackenridge’s line… Pat. Campbell’s line… (signed) W. Beverley. Wit: Francis Beatty, Patrick Hays, John Dobbins. 25 Sept. 1741. Acknowledged by Wm. Beverley, Esq. [Orange County Virginia Deed Book 6, Dorman, pg. 32].

Military Service

The next record of John Dobkins, is a 1742 military record, which clearly seems to be John Dobkins Jr.

Cecil tells us that each Virginia County appointed a county militia Lieutenant who functioned as the militia commander and was responsible for organizing and maintaining the county militia. The militia was made up of volunteers who were responsible for protecting and defending the local residents, particularly in the event of an Indian attack.

Local militias were called upon during the French and Indian War (1754-1763,)  Dunmore’s War in 1774, and the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). All was not peaceful on the frontier.

By 1742, John Dobkins was Captain of the Augusta County militia which means he is a fully functional, responsible adult capable of organizing and leading other men. If he were baptized in 1741 as an adult, he would not have been noted as the child of his father.

It’s worth noting that there is one John Johnson in John Dobin’s 1742 militia Company 6.

In 1743, John Dobbin is listed on the Militia Roll as the Lieutenant of Horse in Orange County.

He probably moved from his father’s land in Augusta County to his claim further west on Holman Creek in Orange County between 1742 and 1743.

Based on the fact that the militia references where John is being referred to as “Capt.” continue uninterrupted between the time John Dobkins Sr. wrote his will, until and after his death. It would appear that the John Dobkins in the militia was John Jr.

Of course, it’s possible that the 1742 entry is for John Sr. and the 1743 entry is for John Jr.

A court-martial was held on January 15, 1745 and John Dobins was present.

Later that year he is listed as a Captain of Horse and is present at another court martial on September 11th.

On September 3, 1746, another court martial was held, but Capt. John Dobin was fined for not attending the general muster and the court martial.

This unquestionably tells us that the man serving in the militia is John Jr., because his father’s estate was probated in May of 1746.

On September 2, 1747, John attended another Court Martial.

Settling in the Shenandoah Valley Wilderness

When John and his father first arrived in Orange County, the family settled very near New Market, not far from where Holman Creek dumps into the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. John Dobkins Sr. lived just south of the county line that would one day divide Frederick and Augusta Counties.

Augusta was formed in 1738 from Orange County and Frederick County was formed from Orange in 1738, but not officially organized until 1743.

John Dobkins Sr. lived near the red arrow in the lower right. The Fairfax dividing line between Augusta County and Frederick County is found (approximately) in a straight line drawn between the purple arrows.

John Dobkins Jr. lived near the red arrow in the upper left-hand corner.

The green arrows point to the path of Holman’s Creek from its headwaters near the purple arrow on the left, to its intersection with the North Shenandoah River near Interstate 81.

We know that by 1746, when his father died, John Jr. was not living on the same land as his father. At some point, John Jr. had moved 9 or 10 miles further west, on Holman Creek.

We know where John Dobkins Jr. lived based on the survey of the Fairfax line which formed the border between Augusta and Orange County, then between Augusta and Frederick County when Frederick split from Orange in 1743.

Come along on a surveying trip. You’re in for a big surprise!

The Fairfax Line

When the Fairfax grant was surveyed and mapped in 1736, the connection between the Rappahannock with the head springs of the Potomac was not surveyed, so the question of where that boundary should actually be located was hotly disputed. The Fairfax grant was massive, the size of the rest of Virginia, which of course, at that time, included what would become West Virginia.

The dispute didn’t end with the survey though. In fact, it’s thanks to a later lawsuit that we have the surveyor’s journal. The journal was used as evidence in the Supreme Court case, State of Maryland vs the State of West Virginia, filed in 1891, to settle that dispute once and for all. The lawyer, George Price, of West Virginia, who submitted that journal as evidence returned it to the surveyor’s descendants in 1910, at the conclusion of the case, documenting why he was in possession of the journal in the first place.

Beginning in September of 1746, surveyors were contracted to establish the Fairfax line, the southern border of Lord Fairfax’s land to establish the limits of the Northern Neck Land Grant, also known as the Fairfax Grant, consisting of over 5 million acres. Surveyors were Peter Jefferson, father of the future President Jefferson, along with Thomas Lewis who, fortuitously, kept a journal, which has been transcribed, here.

This 1751 portion of the Fry-Jefferson map shows the Fairfax Boundary line, along with Smith’s Creek and the Indian Road, also known as the Great Indian Warpath, by which the settlers arrived. This would become known as the Great Waggon Road to Philadelphia as well as the Carolina Road.

Eventually, millions of settlers would seek their fortunes along this road, turning off onto capillaries and settling along streams, but that was still in the future. John Dobkins was among the first, brave, or maybe foolhardy, fifty families to try their luck in the backcountry. One massacre, and they would all be dead and entirely lost to history.

The history of the Wagon Road had yet to be written. When John set eyes upon it, they could only have used pack horses because it was just a rugged Indian trail, impassable to wagons.

The 1746 Fairfax survey extended from the head of the Rappahannock to the head of the Potomac, as was written on the outside of Lewis’s journal. The journal was 3.5 inches wide and 5.5 inches tall, and he faithfully recorded the day’s activities in a quill pen

By Monday, Sept 29th, they were having problems crossing the Blue Ridge. He noted that, “it being impossible to take our horses over the Peaked Mountain, they were sent over Masenuten Gap with the commissioner and baggage. Mr. Brook and I went up to where we left off on Saturday.”

The author who lived in New Market transcribed and published the journal, and placed notes at the bottom of the page. This note says that Peaked Mountain is between McGaheysville and Kezeltown.

The surveyors had sent their baggage train a different way with the idea that they would meet up again in Shenandoah Valley.

On October 1, (page 19 in the printed booklet) John Lewis penned this entry in his journal:

Wednesday, October 1st – Set forward with our baggage in order to overtake
Colo. Jefferson and Capt Winslo. We did about 2 o’clock at John Dobins.

Their notes for Tuesday:

216 pole X (X=cross) Smith Creek runs to Rt.
429 X ye Indian Road
810 X ye North Branch of Shanando
1600 poles a pine marked
21 miles

The author’s note at the bottom of the page states that “this first line crossed from Smith’s Creek to the North Shenandoah River exactly where new Market now stands. The Indian Road is the forerunner of the Valley Turnpike.”

Wensday worke and from the marked pine
206 poles Masunuten Gap Bears S 60 E
960 poles a tree marked 24 miles in Dobins cornfield
1000 total for this day.

We encamped in Dobins meadow
Raind in the evining

We know that John was raising corn and had a meadow. We also know that the Fairfax line ran through John’s land.

John’s house and the Armentrout Mill are located at the red arrow. You can see meadowlands and a substantial field, today. That just might have been John’s cornfield.

I believe that Massanutten Gap is actually known as New Market Gap in the Massanutten Mountain, today. You can watch a beautiful drone video, here.

Surveying was not for the faint of heart. Lewis reports that several horses were killed, falling over rocks and “precipes” in a place called Purgatory. He also mentions that Col. Fairfax turned back at the 1000 pole mark, unable to undergo the fatigue of the journey. Two days later, he says that they had to press forward because the horses were starving and their provisions were not sufficient for themselves.

Two days later, on the 5th, Lewis tells of the horrible conditions in the mountains and that both horses and men were injured with broken bones. On the 6th, he reported that the horses had had nothing to eat since they had left Dobins four days earlier.

Lewis tracks the miles they have surveyed from the origination point.

A few days later, he notes that “the mountains prodigiously full of fallen timber and ivey as thick as it could grow – so interwoven that horse or man could hardly force his way through it.”

A day or two later, at the Styx River, he records:

The appearance is so dismal as to strike terror into the heart of any human creature. Ye lorals, ivey and spruce pine so extremely thick in ye swamp through which this river runs that one cannot have the least prospect except they look upwards. The water of the river dark brownish, cooler and its motion so slow that it can hardly be said to move. Deep about 4 feet and the bottom muddy and banks high which made it extremely difficult for us to pass the most of the horses when they attempted to ascend the farthest bank tumbling with their loads back in the river. Most of our baggage that would have been damaged by the water were brought over on men’s shoulders such as powder, bread and bedclothes and c. There was not a place big enough for one man to lye on, no fire wood except green or rotten spruce pine and no place for our horses to feed. To prevent them from being poisoned by eating of loral we tyd them all up.

Then, at 68 miles on the 15th. Lewis pens:

Never was the Elysian fields more welcome to a departed soul than this place – if I may be allowed the expression was to us. I wish it were possible for me to give a just description of this place that might others judge was reason we who were engaged in this affair have to say so.

The Swamp, (which is very uncommon in places of ye kind) is prodigiously full of rocks and cavitys whose covered over with a very luxuriant kind of moss of a considerable depth. The fallen trees of which there was great numbers and naturally large were vastly improved in bulk with their coats of moss. The spruce pines of which on all sides there are great plenty their roots grown out from the trunk a considerable height above the surface, covered over and joyned together in such a manner as makes their roots appear like semie globs. The loral and ivey as thick as they can well grow whose branches growing of an extraordinary length are so well woven together that without cutting away it would be impossible to force through them provided they grew on a good even surface, their roots together with the pines are spread over the rocks and under the moss like arches. In what danger must we be, in such a place all dangerous places being obscured under a clock of moss such thickets of loral to struggle with those branches are almost as obstinate as if composed of iron. Our horses and often ourselves fell into clefts and cavities with out seeing the danger before we felt the effects of it. No ones misfortune was of much to service the others, for in striving to evade a seen dangerous or bad place often fell into a worse. Frequently we had the roots to cut and the rocks to break to free our horses of which 4 or 5 might have been engaged at a time.

The next day, he reported that they “lay by” in order to rest because they are much fatigued and crippled.

On the 17th, they encountered another laurel swamp so difficult they were afraid of not being able to get out.

On the 19th, they were lost and discouraged, thinking themselves too far west, but they were actually too far east.

On the 20th, the men took a break to hunt and to see if they could find the head of the Potomac. The boundary line was supposed to have been run ten years earlier, in 1736, but the author of the pamphlet penned a footnote indicating that they think that the 1736 line was not run. The men heard guns in the distance which they believed to be Indians.

In case you’re wondering why on earth anyone would want to homestead there, his entry on the 21st is enlightening.

The land or soil on the NW side of the river is black and very moist a great many small springs and ouzey places and pretty stoney and hilly. Exceedingly well timbered with such as very large spruce pines, great multitudes of Beach and Shugartrees, Cherry trees the most and finest I ever saw. Some 3 or 4 foot diameter thirty or forty foot without a branches. Some few Oaks, Chesnuts and Locusts though not many.

On Thursday, the 23rd, they created the Fairfax Stone by engraving their initials and the year, dined on a venison loin, and drank to his Majesty’s health. The stone still existed in 1859, but was described as “indescript sandstone, shapeless and would scarce attract the attention of a passerby.” It was destroyed in 1883.

The surveyors turned around and began their way back, still surveying. A second line was surveyed to check the first line.

Peter Jefferson was “very much indisposed,” even though he had been described as being one of the “strongest men of this country.”

Monday, the 13th:

Never was any poor creatures in such a condition as we were in nor ever was a criminal more glad by having made his escape out of prison as we were to get rid of those accursed lorals.

Lewis continues to describe the swamp again as twice as bad as the Styx, with horses sometimes tumbling in places out of sight.


Mr. Brook was taken very ill with a dizziness in his head and fainting in the middle of the swamp which we had reason to fear would have been his sepulcher.

A couple of days later, the men camped at a settler’s house and were eating, drinking, gambling, and having fun.

By this time, it would have been getting cold. They celebrated the King’s birthday, then set out on November 1st.

By November 3rd, they reported being on the top of what is interpreted to be Shenandoah Mountain, and out of water.

On November 4th, they had to let their horses ramble to find food, and they could not find them. So they left a man to hunt for the missing horses and told him to meet them at Dobins.

On November 6th, they made their way back to John Dobkins place.

Lewis’s entries continue later:

1060 pole marked a Dogwood 47 miles
1380 pole marked a Chesnut Oak 48 miles on the side of Black Jack Hill
1700 pole a white oak marked 49 miles by a branch
2020 pole a pink marked 50 miles
2340 poles a black oak marked 51 miles

2580 pole X the head of Holmans Creek. Run to the left down to Dobins hear we left off and road down to Dobins here we met with Mr. Brook who had been with the commissioners round by Wests Gap and then left them on the road. We pitched our camp by Dobins field and had the liberty of his meadow for our horses.

That meadow, either John’s or nearby, above, probably doesn’t look a lot different today.

Friday, November 7th:

Went to where we left off the day before.
Thence 80 poles marked a hiccory 52 miles.
Hear we stopt thinking proper to measure the distance between the two lines the course N 44E 460 poles to the old line a little to the NW of Dobkins house.
Then returned to camp.

A pole is 16.5 feet, so 44 poles would be 726 feet and  460 poles would be 7590 feet.

The good news is that because they traversed and measured twice, coming and going, we have two descriptions of where John Dobkins land was located.

Today, this is the Fairfax line on North Mountain Road, not far from John Dobkins house.  Holman’s Creek is running parallel to the right, and the present-day St. Luke’s United Church-Christ cemetery is visible on the left.

Additionally, a later land survey references John’s land as being near the head of Holman’s Creek.

Saturday the 8th:

Beginning at the end of 80 pole run the day before (which is the head of Holman’s Creek), thence
320 pole a red oak marked 53 miles
640 pole a white oak marked 54 miles
960 a black oak on the east side of Timber Ridge marked 55 miles
1280 pole a pine marked 56 miles
1600 pole a pine marked 57 miles
1788 pole X the north branch of the Shanando a pine on the NW side marked Fx the River Bears up N 80 down ye contrary
1920 pole a pink marked 58 miles
2240 a hiccory marked 59 miles
2266 X the Indian Road
2560 a read oak marked 60 miles
2620 X Smith Creek and left off

By the 13th, they were back at the beginning point, fired off a “discharge of 9 guns” and drank to the health of “his majesty & L. Farfax.”

They had missed the original mark by 100 yards, or 300 feet, in a distance of 76.5 miles, which was pretty amazing, especially considering the extremely challenging terrain and the equipment of the time.

The next day, Lewis noted they had “sider and apples which now was become expence. A great novelty.”

A day or so later, they discharged the men and auctioned off the horses and tents. I’m sure the settlers were glad to purchase them.

By the 19th, Lewis reported 4 inches of snow. That entire trip had to be rather cold and miserable, especially because the men were wet so much of the time in rivers and swamps.

This survey, indeed, confirms the location of John Dobkins’ land, on or near the Fairfax line, on or near Holman’s creek, and about 7 or 8 miles west of the Indian Road, which is US11 today.

As difficult as this trip was for the surveyors, remember that John Dobkins, and his father, John Sr. had carved homesteads and a life out of this wilderness more than a decade earlier. Wine tells us in his book that some of the lands were prairie tracts, having been burned over by the Indians every year, but the land along Holman’s Creek was forested and had to be cleared.

The first settlers were free to choose their own land, and as much as they could actually use.

I’m so grateful for Lewis’s journal that painted such a vivid picture of early life in the mountains for posterity.

Holman’s Creek

At some point, probably between 1742 and 1743, John Dobkins Jr. moved onto land of his own, where the surveyors found his home. He moved further west on Holman’s Creek with his young family.

The land granted to John Dobkins (Jr) in 1750 is shown at left. Holman Creek is tracked with the red arrows, and Smith Creek is shown at far right. This path is at least 6 miles as the crow flies, and more along any road or path. I wonder how often John Jr. was able to see his parents.

John Dobkins Sr. left his land to his wife when he wrote his will in 1743, and she, along with John Jr. were his executors in 1746 when he died. For a long time, researchers presumed that the land owned by John Dobkins Jr. was the same land owned by John Dobkins Sr., especially since we don’t find a sale of John Sr.’s land, nor a death of Mary. I have no idea what happened to his land, or when. Perhaps tracking current deeds back in time would reveal that story.

Life Along Holman’s Creek

In the book, Life Along Holman’s Creek, we find that Capt. John Dobkins is noted as one of the first settlers in the area and was granted title to 400 acres on August 2, 1750.

This John Dobkins is clearly not John Dobkins Sr. who died in 1746.

Jost Hite was instrumental in settling the Borden Grant in the 1730s. We find Jost Hite in the southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland region, on the border area north of Hagerstown recruiting fellow German settlers.

While the initial 50 settlers brought by Hite did not appear to be heavily German, John Dobkins Jr.’s land on Holman Creek was surrounded by numerous Germans, many of whom were Brethren and migrated from Frederick County, Maryland on the Pennsylvania border. I recognize many names associated with my Mueller (Miller) family line. In fact, one of my ancestor’s sons, Lodowich Mueller (Miller) settled here, along with many associated families.

In fact, the Miller and Wine families were baptized in Holman Creek, between Moore’s Store where John Dobkins owned land, and Forestville. J. D. Wine, a Mueller (Miller) descendant would come to own the favorite local swimming hole, where the women would modestly swim upstream from the men in hot weather. Those adventures were still decades in the future when John Dobkins carved a homestead out of the wilderness along Holman Creek.

Once that stream of immigration down the valley began, it never ended – increasing after the French and Indian War, Dunmore’s War, and again during and after the Revolutionary War when Lodowick Mueller arrived from Frederick County, Maryland accompanied by his daughter, Susannah, and son-in-law, Michael Wine. Pietists like the Brethren were penalized for their refusal to serve in the militia, or military, so many “escaped” to the less-organized frontier. That and the lure of land were powerful motivators.

John Dobkins’s land is marked with the red star. His direct neighbors included both the Zirkle/Circle and Miller families. Brethren families include Miller, Zirkle, Myer, Garber, Fry and Wine. Many other German families are also found in this neighborhood, and most of the early deeds and wills are signed in German script.

The southeast corner of John’s tract later became the village of Moore’s Store, specifically the area where John Dobkins lived which is now an orchard.

Apparently, apples were being raised in this area back in 1746 too, given that the surveyors were enjoying apples and cider. This is John’s land today. I wonder if he planted fruit trees when he first cleared this land.

The second page, below, attaches to the right of the map above.

On this page, the Wine family cemetery is located on the original Jacob Holeman land. In addition to the Brethren families, there is also a Quaker Church. These families, by and large, do not appear to be Scots-Irish, which is part of why I question that statement about John Dobkins.

Cecil Smythe located John Dobkins land, and even though all I has was a horrible black and white, meaning mostly black, copy of a bad copy of a picture in the copy I had of his book, I found the house on Google maps based on his description of the house and the fact that Holman Creek was nearby, literally “across the way” at Moore’s Store. I could see “just enough” of that poor quality photo. Thanks Cecil.

I love approaching his house, at right, on this timeless old road. The homes built back then weren’t constructed planning for roads as we know them. They were built along animal and Indian paths, following streams, near fresh, uncontaminated water.

Cecil stated that later owners added the second half-story and the red bricks on the original stone fireplace on the log cabin that John Dobkins built on the land where he lived in the 1740s and early 1750s.

I wish we could see the interior and the original logs.

Across the road, we see the Armentrout Mill, a beautiful historic landmark. Was it built when John lived here? John sold this land to Thomas Moore, and we know that Moore’s son Peter ran the mill, but we don’t know when this stone house was built.

The original cabin is on the right in this photo.

John Dobkins’ home backed up to Holman Creek. All early cabins needed easy access to water.

Thomas Moore purchased this land from John Dobkins in 1753, which remained in his family for the next 200 years according to Wine.

Based on the reconstructed neighborhood in the Wine book, this is approximately where John Dobkins land was located. The Wine book does not show the county boundary through John’s land. The surveyors corrected for a surveying error in this vicinity though.

The address, if you want to take a look on Google maps, is 3912 Flat Rock Road, Quicksburg, VA, at the tiny crossroads known as Moore’s Store.

Given that John Dobkins Jr.’s three children, Thomas, John and Jean were born between 1736 and 1741, they may have born right here.

John had at least three additional, and probably four more children. Son Reuben was probably born in the 1740s and Evin/Evan either in the 1740s or 1750s. Those boys probably were born here.

In 1751, John Sr.’s grandson, Jacob Dobkins was unquestionably born in this log cabin on Holman Creek.

Rebecca Dobkins was married in 1783, with John Dobkins as her surety, so she was likely born in the late 1750s.

Given that we know Elizabeth was pregnant in 1735, Rebecca would not have been born after 1757 or 1758, so she was probably born at their next home.

John Jr. was born wherever the family came from, but his children never knew any home other than the frontier – that is – until they struck out on their own for yet the next untamed frontier.

The Johnson Family

Jacob, my ancestor, would marry Dorcas/Darcus Johnson in March of 1775 in Shenandoah County before he served in the Revolutionary war.

Jacob’s brother, Evan married Margaret Johnson on January 30, 1775.

Both Johnson women were reported by Johnson family descendants to be the daughters of Peter Johnson/Johnston and Mary Polly Philips.

It’s very clear from many triangulated matches, and other evidence that Peter Johnson was indeed related to Dorcas and Margaret Johnson, believed to both be his daughters. Additionally, his family notes also recorded that it’s possible that Peter’s daughter, Rachel, married one John Dobkins. I have no evidence either way.

I’m mentioning this at this point, because somehow, these families met. Using the FAN (friends and neighbors) principle, I’m particularly cognizant of any Johnson/Johnston that interacts with any Dobkins family member.

There is one Henry Johnston listed in the original 49 settlers, although he is not shown on the original grant map, or the 1770 map. But then again, neither is Jacob Dobkins although we assuredly know he received a land grant. Perhaps Henry Johnson lived near John Dobkins on those Borden Grant lands. I should work on Henry Johnson’s family history, if I can determine where he originated.

We know that Peter Johnson lived in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, very near the border with Frederick County, Maryland, where some of the Monocacy settlers lived. Is that the connection? We also know that the Shenandoah Valley settlers came from the Lancaster County, PA area where Peter Johnson first settled.

Was Peter Johnson visiting family members in the Shenandoah Valley? Did he settle here for a short time around 1775 before moving on to Allegheny County, Pennsylvania? How did the Johnson girls meet and marry the Dobkins boys?

Let’s keep our eyes open for Johnson/Johnston connections.

What Else Do We Know About Capt. John Dobkins?

What was going on in the everyday life of John Dobkins aside from his militia duties, plowing fields, and harvesting crops?

  • In 1747, Zebbulon Harrison sued John Dobekin for debt. The writ was dated August 24, 1747, but the debt was from 1746. It’s worth noting that the Burr Harrison family, in 1770, lives on the X parcel that is missing from the original Beverly map. So, did Zeb sue his neighbor’s son, or did the Harrison family wind up with John Dobikin Sr.’s land?
  • May 21, 1747 – Road ordered from Fork of the New Road, near Jumping Run, or Colletts, to the Co. Ho., and John Dobikin, John Smith, Jacob Dye, Thomas Moore, and William Brown lay it off.
  • January 16, 1748 – John Dobikin executor for Rudal Brock’s will – son Frederick; son George, daughter Christiana Funkhouse, daughter, Julian Brock, daughter, Eve. Executors, John Dobikin and William James. Proved by Peter Gartner and John Bare, Proven Feb. 15, 1748
  • Feb 14, 1748 – John Dobikin executor bond
  • 15, 1748 – John Dobikin surety for Jonathan Cobourn’s bond as administrator of James Coburn.
  • December 23, 1748 – John Johnston’s will – wife, Hannah. Executors, wife and John Dobins, Proven May 17, 1749

Here’s another Johnson connection.

In the Northern Neck Land Grant book along with Chalkey’s Chronicles, we find:

  • May 17, 1749 – William Hill’s will – weaver; children Sarah, James, Mary, John, Joseph, Hannah, Rachel, Elizabeth; wife, Mary. Executors wife Mary and Thomas Moore. Proved by John Dobikin and Isaac Johnson. Proven May 17, 1749.

Who was Isaac Johnson? How is he connected?

  • July 13, 1749 – William James, of Smith Creek, will – yeoman; wife, Sarah, estate until eldest son Thomas James comes of age, Three sons, Thomas, Joshua, and Joseph. Executor wife and Thomas Moore, proven August 22, 1749.
  • July 21, 1749, Archibald Ruddle of Augusta County was granted 406 acres on Holman’s Creek adjoining Capt. John Dobkins and Peter Gartner. This land was surveyed on May 24, 1751.
  • February 27, 1750 – John Dobikin surety for Magdalene and Andrew Bird’s bond as admin of Andrew Bird.
  • August 2, 1750 – Capt. John Dobkin, of Augusta County was granted title to 400 acres of land on Holman’s Creek by Lord Fairfax, called Forest, probably because it was wooded.
  • March 13, 1751 – John Dobkin appraiser for Michael Rinhart’s inventory with Nicholas Seehorn, David Magit, and George Shuneman.
  • April 9, 1751 – John Dobikin surety for James Robinson’s will, yeoman – wife, Mary, and her daughters, two youngest sons, Isaac and Jonathan, son James, son David, 200 acres on Shanado River where he now lives. Exec wife Mary and son David. Proved by McDonal. Proved May 28, 1751.
  • May 24, 1751 – John Dobekins patented 406 acres on Holman’s Creek surveyed for John Dobikins.
  • August 22, 1751 – Henry Carson’s appraisement by John Dobikin, Adam Reader, and Alexander Painter.

The Fairfax line eventually became the line between Rockingham County, Virginia, and Hardy County, West Virginia.

I attempted to extend this line on the map. John Dobkins’ home on Holman Creek is shown with the red pin. I do know that the county boundary was adjusted “up the valley” a bit at one time to coincide with the Fairfax line. I also don’t know which line they used, the original or the second one surveyed on the way back.

Stoney Creek

In 1752 or 1753 John sold the four hundred six acres on Holman Creek to Thomas Moore and moved to land along Stoney Creek.

John was listed as Captain when he sold that land to Thomas Moore.

  • June 23, 1753 – John Dobikin, grantor, Elizabeth Dobikin, grantor’s wife, from Fairfax August 7, 1750, 400 acres on Holman’s Creek.
  • August 10, 1753 – Capt. John Dobkins is mentioned as an adjoining neighbor along with Peter Gartner in a grant to Archibald Ruddle and then Archibald to Stephen, delivered to Charles Hyleton or Styleton in October 1763.

In 1755 a deed dated January 3rd refers to land on the northwest side of Stoney Creek as being adjacent to John Dobkins.

  • A few days later, on May 5th, Burr Harrison Sr. of Prince William County received 200 acres on Stoney Creek in Frederick County surveyed for Henry Burge and plot returned by Robert Rutherford on January 3, 1755. Burge did not comply with order from office of [in] 1768. Adj John Dobekin. (See Book N)

These properties are listed, transcribed and mapped on Jeffrey La Favre’s map.

I’m incredibly grateful, once again, to Jeffrey La Favre whose ancestors lived near my McKee family in Washington County, Virginia, as well.

The two parcels BH200 and GC400 on the map both touch John Dobkins’ land, so his land must be WB400 which is 400 acres.

By the time John Dobkins moved to Stoney Creek, the French and Indian War was beginning in earnest.

French and Indian War 1752-1766

The French and Indian War started before and extended after the Seven Year’s War. This conflict pitted the English colonies against the French who were aided by the various Indian tribes. The French promised to honor the Native land rights and stop the European encroachment. The English, busting at the seams with 1.5 million settlers east of the Appalachian Mountains wanted their land. The French, with 70,000-80,000 settlers scattered through Canada and the Mississippi corridor wanted to convert the Native people to Catholicism.

By Pinpin – Own work from Image:Nouvelle-France1750.png1)Les Villes françaises du Nouveau Monde : des premiers fondateurs aux ingénieurs du roi, XVIe-XVIIIe siècles / sous la direction de Laurent Vidal et Emilie d’Orgeix /Éditeur: Paris: Somogy 1999.2) Canada-Québec 1534-2000/ Jacques Lacoursière, Jean Provencher et Denis Vaugeois/Éditeur: Sillery (Québec): Septentrion 2000.Map 1 ) (2008) The Forts of Ryan’s taint in Northeast America 1600-1763, Osprey Publishing, pp. 6– ISBN: 9781846032554.Map 2 ) René Chartrand (20 April 2010) The Forts of New France: The Great Lakes, the Plains and the Gulf Coast 1600-1763, Osprey Publishing, p. 7 ISBN: 9781846035043., CC BY-SA 3.0,

This 1750 map shows the lands claimed by various entities in 1750. It’s no wonder that the Native people felt displaced. They were.

For the first 20 years or so after the first settlers arrived in the Shenandoah Valley, along Smith Creek, the settlers lived peacefully with the Indians, but that would change with the onset of the conflict.

Areas much further east, including Hagerstown and most of western Maryland and Pennsylvania were entirely depopulated during this war. The Indians had more to lose than anyone else and were extremely effective warriors against the scattered homesteads of the encroaching European settlers.

Raids in the Shenandoah Valley were vicious and brutal, but often undocumented. No one made a list of who died.

Dr. Patrick Murphey, author of Life on the Inner Frontier: The French and Indian War in the Shenandoah Valley presents enlightening information in this YouTube video.

We have very little information about the Shenandoah Valley residents during this time.

This war was one of guerilla warfare wherein the Indians appeared out of no place, stuck and killed, then vanished. Their goal was to terrorize the settlers into leaving. It didn’t work.

Everyone was terrified, clustered in homes serving as forts. The season named Indian Summer received its horrible nickname during this war. The settlers left the safety of the forts in the fall and winter, but that’s also when the Indians often struck, during the last warm spell before the frozen winter set in.

I will never hear “Indian Summer” again without thinking of their terror.

In the springtime and summer, the settlers returned to the forts or fortified homes, packed in together, but safe. Of course, this also meant that any disease, like cholera, dysentery, or consumption, ran rampant, killing many, in addition to the raids themselves.

You would have known your neighbors well. Very well. Too well.

The Valley Road, also known as the Great Warrior Path transected the original settlement, along Smith Creek, right where John Dobkins Sr. originally settled.

In many cases, the raiding Indians killed the men and took the women and children captive to be adopted into Indian families as replacements for family members lost either to warfare or other causes.

Both the French and English paid the Shawnee and other “Ohio Indians” for scalps.

Fort houses were often constructed of stone to prevent fire, built over springs so no one had to venture out for water, with pull-up stairs, loopholed for guns to shoot outward, and often, but not always, stockaded. Sometimes the local militia built blockhouses for protection.

Jacob Dobkins, the son of John Dobkins Jr., would build a blockhouse during the Revolutionary War at Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Born in 1751, Jacob spent his entire childhood under the long shadow of warfare. By the time the French and Indian War, and the raids ended, he was 15 or 16 and probably quite experienced in how to protect himself and his family.

If you think about it, it’s a miracle that he, or any of the settlers, survived. Many didn’t.

The Shenandoah Valley residents constructed Holman’s fort at the mouth of Holman’s Creek where it intersected with the Shenandoah River. Of course, this might explain why the Dobkins family, and others, were close to the Holman family.

John Dobkins Jr. would have been living dangerously, very dangerously, if he lived 8 miles west of the Fort during this time. He had obviously claimed this land, built his cabin, and moved prior to the outbreak of hostilities.

Perhaps, given that John was a Captain in the militia, he and his neighbors constructed another fortified home to protect the residents further west, along Holman’s Creek. Otherwise they would have made themselves targets, literally sitting ducks.

I can’t help but wonder about the stone Armentrout Mill, right beside what we think is John Dobkins’ home. What about its earliest history? Could this have been Captain Dobkins fortified home, instead of, or maybe in addition to, the cabin across the road?

In 1753, the Valley Indians began meeting with those across the Allegheny Mountains and, soon thereafter, disappeared to the west. Then, raids commenced, and the French and Indian War was underway.

I was able to piece together some information about Indian raids in this area, and a few poor souls who died.

In 1753, during the beginning years of the war, John Dobkins sold this land and moved further north – to Stoney Creek.

  • On September 17, 1757, 34 people were killed or captured on Cedar Creek and Stoney Creek.

This literally made my blood run cold, knowing John Dobkins and his family were living there. Is this, perhaps, what happened to John’s son, Thomas Dobkins? What about his namesake son, John? And his daughter, Jean?

You’ll recognize many of the names of people known to have perished as neighbors with whom John Dobkins interacted.

  • In 1758, fifty Indians and four Frenchmen arrived at the home of George Painter near Shenandoah, nine miles below Woodstock, at the location still called Indian Fort Stock Farm.

Painter had a large basement. He was killed there along with four babies before the house and stable were burned. The indentation in the ground where the structure collapsed remains to this day.

Forty-eight people were taken prisoners. Two of Painter’s sons and Jacob Fisher who hid were the only ones to escape capture, which is how we have that history today.

  • That same summer at Fry’s Fort, a stockaded fort on Cedar Creek, the Young and Day families were killed and some members captured.
  • On June 1, 1764, Bowman’s Fort, near present day Strasburg on Valley Pike was attacked, with 32 people killed. George Bowman was the son-in-law of Jost Hite and had arrived in 1732. Bowman’s neighbor, George Miller, was killed as was John Dellinger whose wife was captured and child was killed. If these families were Brethren or Mennonite, they refused to use violent means to protect themselves. The Indians knew that, which may be why there are a disproportionate number of Brethren names on the list of known attacks.
  • Next came Nisewanger’s Fort, near Middletown.
  • Jacob Miller’s Fort may have been attacked in 1766, near Millerstown, now called Woodstock.
  • In 1766, after the war had supposedly ended, five Indians attacked the Sheets and Taylor families as they traveled to the fort at Woodstock. The men were killed immediately, but the wives picked up axes and managed to save themselves and their children. These women clearly weren’t Brethren.

No attacks are recorded after 1766. It was very probably a very tense peace for a very long time. The residents had lived under constant threat for 12 long, frightening, years.

Some people refer to the French and Indian War as the beginning of the American Revolution. It would only be a few years until the next war began on the frontier in 1774.

Life After the War

Life continued. John’s children were growing up, or were grown. We know John was still living because several records exist.

  • March 8, 1768 – Thomas Moor of Frederick County (so north of the Fairfax line) was granted 293 acres on Holeman’s Creek adjoining John Dobekin, Stephen Ruddle, John Thompson, Reese Lewis, Boon’s survey.
  • August 19, 1773 – John Dobbins buyer at the estate sale of Thomas Rutherford
  • On April 14, 1774 – George Coffield of Dunmore Co., assignee of Edward Rian, 400 acres on Stony Creek in said County. Surveyed Dec. 29, 1753 for Edward Rian and forfeited by advertisement and recorded in Book N. Adj John Dobekin, John Bayly.

Bailey is at JB400 on the La Favre map, so Jacob has to be WB400. The current address is 4109 Jerome Road, Edinburg, VA.

On John’s tract, at the intersection of what today is Jerome Road and Alum Springs Road, right beside Foltz Creek, we find another old stone cabin still standing, with an old chimney.

This old cabin is clearly on John Dobkins’ land, seen in the distance across Stoney Creek, shown above.

You can see the original stone in both the house and the fireplace.

The Revolutionary War

Dunmore County was formed in 1772 from Frederick County. Dunmore was renamed to Shenando, now Shenandoah, in 1778 with no boundary changes.

Many of Shenandoah County’s citizens were involved in the American Revolution. In June, 1774, some residents met in Woodstock, with the Reverend Peter Muhlenberg heading the meeting. He was elected Chairman of the Committee on Resolutions which and issued a fiery statement about tyranny, taxation and representation.

Muhlenberg was appointed colonel of the Eighth Virginia Regiment in December, 1775. One Sunday in January, 1776, Muhlenberg delivered a stirring farewell sermon to his congregation and left for battle with his German regiment.

The men of Shenandoah were experienced wilderness settlers and made a major contribution to the war, including John Dobkins’ son, Jacob.

While the Revolutionary Was not yet in full swing, Lord Dunmore’s War had begun in which the Virginia Governor essentially declared war against the Native people.

The 1775 list of men in the Dunmore County militia during the Revolutionary War under the command of Capt. Jacob Holman includes Evin Dobkin, Jacob Dobkin, and Reuben Dobkin. John is not listed, but he would have been about 65 by this time. We know Jacob was of age by this time, and it’s likely that both Reuben and Evin were too.

In 1775, John Dobkins’ sons were marrying:

  • January 30, 1775 – Evan Dobkins married Margaret Johnson
  • Before 1783 – Reuben Dobkins married Elizabeth Holeman who was listed in her father’s 1784 will.
  • March 11, 1775 – Jacob Dobkins married Dorcas Johnson

In the midst of the War, life continued.

  • On April 20, 1777, a lease between Cutbert Harrison of Dunmore County to Elias Coffelt of same for 5 shillings, a parcel of land lying on Stoney creek, the line of John Dobins survey on a steep hill…containing 200 acres…rent one peppercorn on Lady day next. Witnesses Edwin Young, John Sehorn and G. Garrison.
  • In April 1778, Evan Dobbins was appointed as Constable. John’s sons were doing well for themselves.
  • In November 1780, the court ordered that John Dobkins be relieved from payment of future county levies.

Generally, this was done when a person reached a specific age, or was infirm and unable to earn a living. To have baptized a child in 1736, John had to have been born before 1715, and more likely about 1710. If he was born in 1710, he would have been age 70 in 1780, so that sounds right.

  • In December 1780, John Daubin sat on a jury. The next day, he proved his attendance for 3 days at the suit Holdman vs Bean. I’d guess Holdman is Holman and Bean may be Boon.
  • In 1780, the Dunmore County militia was called to action to repel the British invasion. By that time, John’s son, Jacob Dobkins, was already in Kentucky.

In 1782, John Dawbin is shown on the personal property tax list with no poll tax, two horses, and 6 cows. Reuben has one poll, 3 horses and 11 cows. Jacob has 1 poll, 2 horses and 2 cows. Evan is missing.

According to the “Census of 1783,” there were 1,302 families residing in Shenandoah County. That’s a huge increase from 49 families in roughly 50 years.

  • In 1783, John Dobkins was shown on the Shenandoah County Tax list as head-of-household with 4 whites. His son, Jacob Dobkin had 8 family members, which means at least one child died that we don’t know about, and Reuben Dobkin had 4.

Who was living with John Dobkins? One daughter, Rebecca possibly, and her newly minted husband? Where’s Evan? Maybe he’s one of the people living with John. Are there children we still don’t know about? So many unanswered questions.

  • On February 21, 1783, Rebecca Dobbins married Patrick Shield, with John Dobbins signing as bondsman.

John’s signature isn’t just an X, but is unique, suggesting that he doesn’t know how to write his name but artfully draws the same signature each time he signs.

What Happened to John?

Cecil Smith says that John Dobkins Jr. went to the western land that would become Tennessee about 1785 with Jacob and Reuben, although I’m not so sure.

What happened to John’s Stoney Creek land? Was it sold? If not, what happened to that land? I found a deed reference in 1813 that his former land belonged to Joseph Pugh, but I was unable to figure out how Joseph Pugh acquired the land. I did research the entire group of deed books between the formation of Shenandoah and 1813, but I was simply unable to discern the trail of ownership.

Cecil probably felt that John accompanied his sons because records of a John Dobkins are found in the new location, on the next frontier.

One hint that John may have been bitten by the land bug is the fact that one John Dobbin had applied for land between 1773 and 1780 on Elkhorn Creek in what was then Fincastle County, Virginia, but would become Kentucky one day. Jacob Dobkins was “not found” on the Fincastle tax list in 1773 as well.

If this John is Jacob’s brother, John, born in 1740s, he would have been 33 or older at the time someone named John Dobkin applied for land on Elkhorn Creek. Jacob’s father, John would have been 53 or older at the time. That land was sold, not settled.

Another interesting, but apparently disconnected tidbit, is that Joseph Pugh purchased another Shenandoah County man’s land on…you guessed it…Elkhorn Creek. So apparently, this was discussed in the area.

By 1785, Jacob Dobkins had struck out for the western country, probably hoping to own land of his own. He wasn’t alone. At least two of his brothers and either his brother or father, John were along on that wagon train.

No Dobkins name remains on the 1785 Shenandoah County tax list, but Jacob, then living in the contested portion of North Carolina that eventually became Washington County, Tennessee was summoned to give a deposition.

  • Page 252 – Friday the 6th (think this is May 1785) – ordered the justices of Shenandoah Co. Virginia to take the depositions of Jacob Dobkins, Sylvia Foella, and other witnesses in the suit between Valentine Sevier Sr. and Andrew Bird.

In November 1787, we find mention of John again.

  • Washington County, TN Page 294 – Nov. 5, 1787 – Will of Rudolph Cresslias – executor Elizabeth and John Cathart Cresslias – William Noodling Sr., John Dobbins, and Abraham Riffe appraisers.

Who is this John Dobbins? Jacob’s son, John was born about 1777, so this clearly isn’t him.

Evan married in 1775, so this John isn’t his son.

Reuben married Elizabeth Holman, but for this John to be his son, he would have had to born about 1766, or earlier, which means that Reuben would have been married by 1765. It’s possible, but unlikely.

Any person assigned to appraise an estate would be someone with experience. Not a task for a young man.

Is this the John Dobkins baptized in 1741 that was rumored to have married the third Johnson sister, Rachel? That’s certainly a possibility. He would have been about 47 years old.

The two most likely scenarios are that this John Dobkins is either the father or the brother of Jacob, Evan and Reuben. However, we don’t find hide nor hair of John again for several years.

  • Page 345 – Jacob Dobkins of John Wier for 100 acres dated February 21, 1788, by Abraham Riffe
  • Page 358 – Evan Dobkins finds a stray horse on November 13, 1788.
  • Reuben Dobkins (spelled Dobbins) takes part in Martin’s campaign of 1788 against the Cherokee near present-day Chattanooga, Tennessee, also known as Dragging Canoe’s War.

These Dobkins men simply cannot escape warfare. It must be a way of life for them.

The less than straightforward Treaty of Sycamore Shoals with the Cherokee was at the heart of the conflict in this region, and when combined with local emotional politics, the situation boiled over.

  • March 1794 – Jacob Dobkins vs John Sevier and Benjamin Mooney – appeared – found for plaintiff for 63.10 and 6 cents costs.

Jacob and Reuben Dobkins settle, at least for some time, in Washington County, then in Jefferson County, Tennessee.

  • Reuben is found in Jackson County in 1802, but is back in Jefferson the next year. In 1820, a Reuben is found in Overton County.
  • Jacob Dobkins was in Jefferson County in 1796 when he sold land, then in Claiborne when the new County was formed from Grainger in 1801.
  • Evan Dobkins was in Washington County in 1793. One Evan was found in 1810 in Sevier County. Evan had married Margaret Johnson, and we find Johnson Dobkins emerge in the 1810 census in Sevier County, along with Evan. John Dobkins obtains a land grant in Sevier County in 1810.

One final clue about John Dobkins may be two petitions, although it’s impossible to know for sure without actually viewing the petitions to see if John signed with a signature. We know that John when signing for Rebecca Dobkins’ marriage signed with a unique mark.

John Dobbins is reported to have signed a petition to the Tennessee General Assembly to form a new county for Sumner County, Tennessee in 1799. Also in 1801 for a county northwest of the Clinch River. I found this reference by another researcher from years ago, but I don’t find his name on a transcribed list of petitioners.

Given that our John Dobkins, Jr., was born about 1710, I doubt this is the same man. He would have been 90. It’s much more likely that this John is either his son, or his grandson, a child of Jacob, Reuben or Evan who would have been born in 1778 or earlier.

John Dobkins Jr. could have died in Dunmore or Shenandoah County, Virginia, before 1785, but a will does not exist for him. But then again, neither does a land sale, at least not that I’ve been able to find.

I suspect that John Dobkins died in Washington County, sometime after 1787, in his late 70s. He had a remarkable life spent entirely on a series of frontiers with disputed and fluctuating boundaries. He is probably buried in land that was once Virginia, North Carolina, the State of Franklin, the Territory South of the Ohio, and eventually became Tennessee. John didn’t move so much as the states and counties moved underneath him.

Capt. John Dobkins was one rugged frontiersman.


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13 thoughts on “Capt. John Dobkins Jr. (c 1710 – c 1788): One Rugged Frontiersman – 52 Ancestors #376

  1. I’m researching the Kenester family in Frederick County and your article gives me many ideas for further research. I’m hoping one of them will give me my answer – who is he and where did he come from?!

  2. My ancestor Peter Görtner (now usually Cortner or Cotner) is mentioned several times with the spelling Gartner as neighbor on Holman’s Creek to John Dobkins, Jr. Note that the documents you quote from Jan. and Feb. 1748 probably refer to the year we now call 1749, since the calendar reform of 1752. Görtner was a signer of the 1737 petition by Borden’s and Hite’s colonists for a market route through the Blue Ridge better than that proposed via Chester’s Gap. Dobkins, Ruddle, and Brock were not signers. By the time the Fairfax grants were made (1750 and thereafter) they were all neighbors on Holman’s Creek.

    Also, Andrew and Magdalena Bird lived on Smith’s Creek (not Holman’s), and those documents might refer to John Dobkins Sr. Just a guess. Bird’s Knob (atop Massanutten Mountain, on the SW side of New Market Gap) is on the Rockingham County side of the Fairfax Line. The Bird land is very near Endless Caverns, I think just a bit farther SW.

  3. My son-in-law’s 7th great-grandmother Anna Barbara Nunnemacher Sheetz was one of those ax-wielding, clearly non-Brethren, wives involved in the last Indian attack in the Shenandoah Valley in 1766. SIL’s family still lives in Woodstock VA.

  4. I supposedly descend from John Dobkins Jr by his son Evan and wife Margaret Johnson. Margaret would be my direct maternal line, and would be H4a1a4b, and so should be your Dorcas Johnson. Can you confirm this?

      • I’m only confident in my line up to Harriet Hampton (Burchell), daughter of Thomas Wade Hampton and Margaret Matthews (supposedly named for her maternal grandmother Margaret Johnson). Oh well. 🙂

  5. Roberta, I always enjoy your articles but the two about John Dobkins, Sr. and John Dobkins, Jr. are especially fascinating because Jost Hite and George Bowman (his son-in-law) are two of my ancestors. It’s so interesting to read about your family, their neighbors. I very much appreciated your link to “Baptism Records of Rev. John Stoever”. I wasn’t aware of this publication and found several members of my family listed in it. Thanks for ALL you do for the genealogical community! You’re an amazing person!

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