My family, the Blake's . . .

My study begins with Theophilus Blake who was living in Chester County, Pennsylvnia in 1740. For years, I shared the belief of others that he was born in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire to Samuel Blake, son of Jasper Blake of Hampton Falls. Recently a Blake Family DNA project conducted by researchers, has shown the descendants of our Theophilus Blake are not related to New Hampshire family group. Consequently, this development has raised many questions among researchers as to the true origins of Theophilus. Many researchers now think he may have immigrated from Ireland or Scotland, landing in the port of Philadelphia. Records have not yet been found to prove this theory, but a record of his service as an indentured servant for six years to Hugh Hovy of Chester County does exist. Many immigrants of his day contracted themselves to work as indentured servants in return for the payment of their passage to America. Based on this evidence, the suggestion is that Theophilus was an immigrant.

About 1764, he moved his family from Pennsylvania to Augusta County, Virginia. His son, Thomas, was living near Cass in modern-day Pocahontas County, West Virginia when my third great grandfather, William Warrick Blake, was born in 1779. My family's tradition held that William was the immigrant coming to this country from Scotland in 1805. The story behind this tradition is found here. As happens many times, family tradition was wrong. My search has lasted over two decades with no end in sight.

My wife's family, the Fleshman's . . .

Cyriacus Fleischman was among a group of twenty or so German Lutheran families from Alsace, the Palatinate, Hesse and neighboring parts of Germany who secured passage on a ship from England to America. The year is 1717. Before the ship could sail, authorities arrested the captain on a bad debt charge and threw him into prison. The group remained aboard ship in the harbor for several weeks awaiting the captain's release. Finally, the ship sailed. By this time, many of the passengers were running low on supplies due to the delay in the harbor.

Many of the group died on the long voyage to America. Instead of the passenger's intended destination of Pennsylvania, the captain put ashore in Virginia. Claiming many had not paid their passage money, he sold the group as indentured servants to Governor Spotswood, of Virginia. Spotswood sent the immigrants to the second of two colonies he established at Germanna, in the Rapidan River area of Virginia.

After serving eight years as indentured servants, Cyriacus Fleischman and his companions finally gained their freedom. The entire colony moved to the Robinson River in present-day Madison County, Virginia. A year later, in 1726, they received large tracts of land. The Hebron Lutheran Church, built by the colonists in 1740, is still in use today. By the time he finally gained his freedom, Cyriacus Fleischman was approaching his golden years.

Robert Fleshman, grandson of Cyriacus, came to Greenbrier County, West Virginia sometime after 1773. He bought a 365-acre farm in Rich Hollow, near present-day Lewisburg. Robert and his wife, Dorothea Baumgardner, are buried on a hilltop overlooking the old farm. My "Lost Cemetery" page tells the story of one family member's determined search for Robert's long-forgotten burial place, and how a chance conversation in a barbershop saved the day.

Moses Fleshman, son of Robert and Dorothea, fought in the American Revolution while still a teenager. His grandson, Thompson Henry Fleshman, served four years in the Confederate Army as a Fife Sergeant Major, in Company K of the 22nd Virginia Infantry Regiment in the Great American Civil War. His fife is on display at the Greenbrier Historical Society Museum in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Thompson Henry Fleshman is my wife's great-grandfather.

My mother's family, the Crouse's . . .

My grandfather, Hugh Crouse, spent most of his life working in the coalmines of Fayette County, West Virginia. His grandfather, George W. Crouse, came to Fayette County from Botetourt County, Virginia. I have uncovered little about this family's origins. They were probably Dunkers, a branch of the Brethren church. The surname indicates German origins but I have not been able to trace them beyond Botetourt County. There is possible evidence George's parents, Jacob and Rosina Crouse, came from Stokes County, North Carolina. A marriage record exists in North Carolina that fits the time line but again, no positive proof. The Crouse family is my brick wall.

Other allied family names include Bibb, Gatewood, Wiseman, Smith, Crouse, and Dobbins. If you are a fellow "tree-climber" or just curious, I would like to hear from you.

Richard H. Blake
2922 Thomas Avenue
Huntington, West Virginia 25705
304-522-3706

Updated 2 June 2011. Original database created 6 Jun 2006 with RootsMagic 4 Genealogy Software