Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mary McDowell Greenlee, re: "Borden's tract"

From Annals of Augusta County by Joseph Addison Waddell, pub. 1902,
C.R. Caldwell, page 31:

    Borden's tract was South of Beverley's Manor, and in the present county of Rockbridge. The first settlers on the tract were Ephraim McDowell and his family. His daughter, Mary Greenlee, related in a deposition taken in 1806 [at age 94], and still extant, the circumstances under which her father went there. Her brother, James McDowell, had come into Beverley's Manor during the spring of 1737, and planted a crop of corn, near Woods' Gap; and in the fall her father, her brother John, and her husband [James Greenlee] and herself came to occupy the settlement. Before they reached their destination, and after they had arranged their camp on a certain evening at Linnville Creek, (now Rockingham,) [Benjamin] Borden arrived and asked permission to spend the night with them, being doubtless on his way to his tract from his home in the lower Valley. He informed them of his grant, and offered them inducements to go there. The next day they came on to the house of John Lewis, and there it was finally arranged that the party should settle in Borden's tract. Ephraim McDowell was then a very aged man, and lived to be over one hundred years old. When a youth of 16 he was one of the defenders of Londonderry. He and his family located on Timber Ridge, originally called "Timber Grove," being attracted by the forest trees on the ridge, which were scarce elsewhere in the region. Borden offered a tract of one hundred acres to any one who should build a cabin on it, with the privilege of purchasing more at fifty shillings per hundred acres. Each cabin secured to him one thousand acres. Mrs. Mary Greenlee related in her deposition, referred to, that an Irish girl, named Peggy Millhollan, a servant of James Bell, dressed herself in men's clothes and secured five or six cabin rights. John Patterson, who was employed to count the cabins, was surprised to find so many people named Millhollan, but the trick was not discovered till after the return was made. Among the settlers in "Borden's grant" were William McCausland, William Sawyers, Robert Campbell, Samuel Woods, John Mathews (father of Sampson and George), Richard Woods, John Hays and his son, Charles and Samuel Walker. Borden obtained his patent November 8, 1739.*
    *[Benjamin Borden, Sr] died in the latter part of 1743, in Frederick, leaving three sons, Benjamin, John and Joseph, and several daughters. The next spring his son Benjamin appeared in Rockbridge (as it is now) with authority under his father's will to adjust all matters with the settlers on the grant. He had, however, been in the settlement before his father's death.
    Mrs. Greenlee says Benjamin Borden, Jr., was "altogether illiterate," and did not make a good impression on his first arrival, but he proved to be an upright man, and won the confidence of the people. The saying: "As good as Ben. Burden's bill," passed into a proverb. He married Mrs. Magdalene McDowell, (originally a Miss Woods, of Rock fish), widow of John McDowell, who was killed by Indians in December, 1742, and by her had two daughters, Martha and Hannah. The former became the wife of Robert Harvey, the latter never married. Benjamin Borden, Jr., died of small-pox in 1753. His will was admitted to record by the County Court of Augusta, November 21, 1758. The executors appointed were John Lyle, Archibald Alexander and testator's wife, but the first named declined to serve. His personal estate was large for the time. During her second widowhood Mrs. Magdalene Borden contracted a third marriage with Colonel John Bowyer.