The early settlers of Pike County found a pristine wilderness. The beauty and serinity of the mountains was countered by the hardships and adversity they faced on a continuing basis. These early settlers came from hardy stock and sought a better life for themselves and their children. The mountains offered a protected refuge but little flat land available for cultivation. Many families found themselves seeking suitable lands located on or near mountaintops. This land was rich and crops grew well.
Because of the distance involved in traveling to a town of any size families relied on each other and close neighbors for assistance and simple pleasures. This created a sense of family that still thrives in Pike County. The old saying "you can't go home" doesn't ring true for those of us fortunate enough to have family ties to eastern Kentucky.
To explore the early beginings of Pike County it is necessary to know some of the early families of the region. One such family was the Meredith Collins family. This family moved to Pike County c. 1809-10 and Meredith Collins is listed on the 1810 property tax list. Meredith "Meredy" Collins was born 1760 in Virginia and died 1841 Pike Co.KY. He enlisted at age 16 in 1776 and served in the Revolutionary War as a Virginian Soldier, served in the militia after the war was over, and appeared to have moved often always with a group of Collins families believed to be related somehow. The Collins intermixed or inter-married with such families as Mullins, Johnsons , Roark, Holloway, Gipson, Trent, Riffe, Lambert, Justice, Coots, Blankenship, Roberts, and with these names the mystery of a group called "The Melungeons". Information on Meredith Collins family submitted by Brenda Collins Dillon.
Another family that arrived by 1815 was the Abraham Potter family. While the relationship between Abraham Potter and the other early Potters in Pike County has never been established. It is assumed by many that he is the patriarch of the eastern Kentucky Potter family. Abraham Potter served in the Revolutionary War and was granted a pension for his service in Pike County in 1833. The earliest census record of Abraham Potter we have been able to locate is the 1820 Floyd County. His daughter Rachel Potter married Archibald Justice on 3 Nov 1818 in Floyd County. Other allied family names include Mullins, Short, Ramey, Belcher, Bolling, Cantrell, Hunt, Stewart, Stapleton, Elam, Keene and Sanders. To learn more about Abraham Potter and his descendants click on his name.
The first settler of modern day Elkhorn City was William Ramey. William Ramey and his wife Anna Samlins moved to the Elkhorn City area in the early 1800's. He built a home near the mouth of Elkhorn Creek. Stories have it that he had to erect his own blacksmith shop to make the nails needed to build his home. A deed in the Floyd County Courthouse, Deed book A,page 354 shows he purchased 200 acres from Robert G. and Susan R. Scott. The property ran up and down the Russell Fork of the Sandy River. This deed was delivered and recorded October 1, 1816. It was endorsed and certified by Matthew Harvey and Benjamin Carper, Magistrates for the County of Botetourt, Va. According to relatives, William laid claim to large tracts of land with coal, timber, oil, and gas around the Elkhorn City area and thereabouts. He aquired thousands of acres of land through land surveys that were secured by State Land Grants and by County Court Orders. This did not include the land he bought and traded for with other individuals. It is believed he once owned all the land from Millard (then called the FORKS), at the forks of the Russell and Levisa rivers, to the head waters of Grassy Creek in Virginia, which included a large part of the Breaks region. Legends say he actually owned over 40,000 acres of property, but a fire in his home or the land office destroyed some of his records and William mentions in his will that some of his papers were "all burnt up in 1838." He could not prove ownership to certain tracts of property and other people and large companies took charge of the land and for some unknown reason he could not recover it. To learn more about the William Ramey click on his name. Information submitted by Sadie Bove.
The first Justice of the Peace in Pike County was William Campbell who came to Floyd County (Now Pike County) in 1818. He acquired most of Upper Chloe Ck. from Shelby to the top of Chloe Mountain (previously called Road Fork) and up the creek towards Frozen Creek. His son William Woodward Campbell stayed in the same area. William Woodward's son Thomas Campbell was a Baptist Preacher that also stayed on the Campbell land. Two of Thomas' children Alvin and Steve (my Grandfather) lived their lives out on the Campbell farm as did several of their children. I too am one of those that are still living on part of the original land acquired by William in 1818. Information submitted by Eddie Campbell.
William Robert Lesley was born and raised in Scotland. He traveled to America with his brother John but they were separated upon arrival in New York and were never reunited. William Robert Lesley migrated west to the Big Sandy Valley Circa 1795-1800 and settled on Johns Creek in Pike County Kentucky. His wife Elizabeth died prior to the trip but, he was accompanied by his son and daughter in-law Robert and Elizabeth. Their ten children also made the trip to Pike County. Robert and Elizabeth had 5 more children after they moved to the Big Sandy area making 15 (fifteen) in all. Their children were Hannah, Elizabeth, Adah, Allen, Rachel, Jemima, Cynthia, Esther, Milton, Harvey, Pharmer, Amos, Naomi, Martin, Luna.
John Lesley never accompained his father, Robert, to Kentucky and he and his wife Martha lived on the family farm in Virginia until about 1828 and then joined the family on Johns Creek in Pike County Kentucky.
William Robert Lesley and both of his sons, John and Robert, served in the Revolutionary War. Robert being only 15 at the time was stationed at home and guarded the forts located there. Son John served with the George Rodgers Clark expedition to Illinois.
William Robert Lesley died in 1802 and is buried at Johns Creek.
Submitted by Patricia Clark who's husband is the gggggrandson of William Robert Lesley and Elizabeth Buchanan.
Edward Goff migrated with his family from Virginia and settled in Pike County, Kentucky. All their belongings were loaded into a wagon, pulled by a yoke of oxen. The family trudged along on foot, leading the milk cow. They had to cross several mountains, and as there were no roads, they probably did a lot of rambling around, dodging cliffs, steep hills, and rough spots. They settled either in the head of Raccoon Creek or on John's Creek. Times were real hard back then, as Eastern Kentucky was virtually a wilderness. Of course there was plenty of wild game to eat, and the settlers raised whatever foodstuff they could on the side of the mountains. The clothes were usually homemade from wool, flax, and cotton that was generally home grown. Hides of animals were tanned and dried to be used in making shoes or moccasins for the children, shoelaces for grown ups and even hinges for doors and windows. Some times a trader would come through the country selling bolts of calico and gingham cloth. The settlers were lucky to get store bought cloth. To learn more about Edward Goff click on his name.
If you would like to have information on your Pike County Pioneer family included here please Email me with your information and I will be happy to include it!