Tuesday, May 30, 2017

John GARTH (1713-1786)

John GARTH's "Mark"
Edna OTWELL > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL > John F. OTWELL > Quintilla GARTH-OTWELL > John GARTH > Thomas GARTH > John GARTH

Our first proven GARTH ancestor in America was John GARTH. He was not educated and could only make “his mark” in lieu of a signature. Lack of education means he was likely born in the colonies.

By 1734, John was a plantation owner in St. Martin’s Parish, Hanover County, Virginia. This area was later called Fredericksville, Louisa County. He invested in land and later came to own over 2,000 acres. He raised livestock and farmed tobacco and corn.

By 1740, John married his first wife Rachel. By 1761, he married Hannah. He may have had another wife between Rachel and Hannah. He had a least 7 children: Sarah, Thomas (our ancestor), Elizabeth, Mary Ann, David, John and William. He was guardian over at least 2 additional children. In his later years, he married the widow Elizabeth CLARK in 1775. There were no children from that marriage.

John was likely a member of the Church of England, as that was required by law.

In 1745, John applied for a patent on 400 acres of land on the South Anna River. The patent required him to cultivate 3 acres out of every 15 within 3 years. And he had to pay an annual fee of one shilling for each 50 acres. After proving his patent, he built a grist mill and leased out portions of the land. This land he sold at a profit in 1761. The grist mill was later known as Byrd Mill after the man who later owned it. The original mill no longer exists.

Later land investments gave John the opportunity to avoid taxes. He would pay the fees on the land in order that the assessor would register his name. This would establish his claim on the land and prevent any future person from claiming it. He would then pay for a survey. But, he failed to apply for the patents. So, he did not pay taxes to the crown.

He was the first GARTH to own slaves. Prior to 1747, he was an overseer of slaves owned by other people. In 1747, he brought a boy aged 11 to court to have his age judged. Newly imported slaves were immediately taxable unless they were under the age of 16. To avoid taxes, John preferred to purchase young and newly imported slaves. In the 1780s, he was also accused in a lawsuit of illegally detaining a slave owned by another family.

Though he could not read or write, in the 1750s, John was a Precinct Processioner. His job was to meet with local property owners to verify the boundaries of their land and note any disputes. After land was processioned three times, the boundaries were unchangeable by law. He was also involved in building county roads.

During the Revolutionary War, John provided beef to the American Militia.

John died in 1786 at about 73 years old. In his will, he provided for his wife Elizabeth for one year. The estate was then split equally amongst his children.

The English surname GARTH means an enclosed yard or garden. Our family likely originated in England. No one knows when the GARTHs came to the colonies or who John’s father was. There is a theory that another GARTH living in Virginia as early as 1733. Known as “Old John GARTH”, he could have been John’s father. Old John could read and write and so he may have come to the colonies from England as an indentured servant.  As always, more research is needed.

This ends the GARTH research.


Davis, Rosalie Edith. The Garth Family: Descendants of John Garth of Virginia, 1734-1986. Dexter, MI: Thomson-Shore, 1988. Print.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Salem BOCOCK (1721-1783) and Susanna BOW (1720-1757) -Married in 1740 Virginia

Flag of Virginia
Edna OTWELL-SIM > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL > John F. OTWELL > Quintilla GARTH-OTWELL > John GARTH > Judith BOCOCK- GARTH > Salem BOCOCK and Susan BOW

There were several families in the colonies that used the BOCOCK surname (or variations of it). Salem was also listed as BOWCOCK in a few documents. There is no documentation linking Salem to any of these colonial families. It is believed that this surname is of French origin (BEAUCOCKE). It is suspected that his father was Henry BOWCOCK (1690-1730) of Virginia, husband of Mary. But, Salem does not appear in Henry’s 1742 will.

Salem was born about 1721 and probably in Virginia. Some researchers believe he was born in England. He married Susanna BOW (or BOWE) (1720-1757) about 1740 in Virginia. We do not know her parents names. They had at least 6 children: Judith (our ancestor), John, Mary/Mildred, Samuel, Elijah and Jason.

The earliest record for Salem was a 1742 Louisa County document that he witnessed.

Susannah must have died before 1757. In 1757, Salem was courting a local Quaker, the widow Agnes JOHNSON. The Quakers condemned Agnes for Salem’s “frequenting her house as a suitor.” Agnes broke up with Salem and returned to the Quakers, only to be condemned in 1758 for marrying a non-Quaker “by a priest”. It may be that Salem was the husband. But, this marriage did not last long and Agnes married another in 1764.

In November 1767, Salem and his son-in-law Thomas GARTH (our ancestor) drew up an article of agreement in which all of Salem’s entire estate was relinquished to GARTH. GARTH would then pay all of Salem’s taxes and provide accommodations to Salem. Any property that was sold, the proceeds would go to GARTH. Salem was only 46 years old at the time and it is unknown why this arrangement was made. The contract allowed Salem to request an annual allowance of 10% if he no longer wished to live in the GARTH household and within 2 years, he no longer appeared on GARTH’s tithe list. Another caveat of the contract was that GARTH would provide for Salem’s son Samuel who was ill and under the care of the Parish. The contract stated that if Samuel ever recovered and had to leave the Parish, GARTH would provide for him, too. (It is unknown if he ever recovered.) Also interesting is that this agreement was written by Patrick HENRY.

He may have become a Quaker in November 1776. He may have died in Bedford County, Virginia in 1783 and it is unknown where he or Susanna were buried.

This ends the BOCOCK and BOW research.


Davis, Rosalie Edith. The Garth Family: Descendants of John Garth of Virginia, 1734-1986. Dexter, MI: Thomson-Shore, 1988. Print.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Judith BOCOCK-GARTH (1740-1806)

Judith's signature
Edna SIM > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL > John F. OTWELL > Quintilla GARTH-OTWELL > John GARTH > Judith BOCOCK- GARTH

Judith, daughter of Salem BOCOCK (1721-1776) and Susannah BOW (1720-1757), was born about 1740 in Virginia.

A few references cite Judith’s surname as LONG. It is noted that one of her grandchildren, Mildred BOCOCK, also had the surname LONG referenced in a few documents. It may be that LONG was an ancestor’s surname from the BOW side that was used as a middle name. Or, it could be that her mother Susannah was previously married to someone named LONG. Most research agrees that BOCOCK was the correct surname.

Judith married her childhood friend Thomas GARTH (1740-1806) in 1761 in Louisa Co., VA. They settled in Albemarle County and had at least 9 children: John (our ancestor), Ann, Thomas Jr., Sarah, Susannah, Elijah, Jessie Winston, Garland and Mildred.

Judith died about 1806 at about 70 years old. We do not know where her grave is located.


Davis, Rosalie Edith. The Garth Family: Descendants of John Garth of Virginia, 1734-1986. Dexter, MI: Thomson-Shore, 1988. Print.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Thomas GARTH, Gentleman (1740-1812)

Signature of Thomas GARTH
Edna OTWELL > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL > John F. OTWELL > Quintilla GARTH-OTWELL > John GARTH > Thomas GARTH

Thomas GARTH, son of John GARTH, was born about 1740 in Hanover Co., Virginia. There is no information on his mother. He was well educated, a wealthy businessman, trusted associate of Thomas JEFFERSON; he rose to a high level in local government, owned large tracts of land and earned the title “Gentleman”.

Family: At age 21, Thomas married his childhood friend Judith BOCOCK (1740-1806) in 1761 in Louisa Co., VA. They had at least 9 children: John (our ancestor), Ann GAINES, Thomas Jr., Sarah, Susannah DALTON, Elijah, Jessie Winston, Garland and Mildred FRETWELL.

Career and Property: Thomas invested in and leased many plots of land in Virginia. He farmed crops and raised livestock. His attorney on some of his legal documents was patriot Patrick HENRY.

In 1762, Thomas purchased 2 land patents in St. Anne’s Parish which is about 3.5 miles from where Thomas JEFFERSON built Monticello in 1769. Thomas GARTH appears for the first time in the index of JEFFERSON’s Memorandum Book 1767-1770, but the pages referenced are missing and it is unknown what this early connection was. He appears in a later memorandum book when JEFFERSON purchased his beef in 1771 and in a 1772 lease agreement for L11 sterling for land, stock and slaves. JEFFERSON purchased many supplies from Thomas, including butter, corn, fodder, pork, bacon, wheat, milk and tobacco. He had a long association with JEFFERSON.

JEFFERSON asked Thomas to purchase the adjoining land to his Shadwell estate. He later sold the land to JEFFERSON at a L85 profit. JEFFERSON then leased the land back to Thomas. 

Thomas also owned land adjoining Monticello and sold it to JEFFERSON- who later called this parcel Lego.  You can read the text of the document that sealed the deal; it went to auction in 2014 and sold for over $100,000.00 (http://www.rrauction.com/PastAuctionItem/3330668).  It was signed by Thomas and Judith and their daughter Ann GARTH-GAINES. (Contact Mary if you want to see a photo of it.)

By 1775, Thomas was overseer of all of JEFFERSON's holdings in Albemarle County.  Thomas appraised JEFFERSON’s cattle and in payment, received wagonage, glass and plank. He was also a witness for JEFFERSON on legal documents. JEFFERSON relied on Thomas’ advice on plantation management and Thomas was the steward for JEFFERSON’s plantations in Albemarle, Bedford and Goochland by 1776.

The Revolutionary War: During the war, the GARTHS agreed to ride between Albemarle and Tidewater to deliver papers and letters to ensure communication between the 2 areas.

On 9 November 1776, Thomas (and his friends, including JEFFERSON) signed a petition for equal and independent support for every religious denomination. This and other documents indicate that Thomas was a dissenter from the Church of England and may have been a Calvinist.

But, it is interesting that Thomas, in the early years of the Revolution, did not sign any documents or make any oaths refusing allegiance to King George III while his friends, family and JEFFERSON did. Some researchers question if he was a Tory sympathizer. However, by 1779, he served on a committee that determined whether property of sympathizers should be confiscated, so it is unlikely that he was. Also, during the Revolution, Thomas supplied the militia with thousands of pounds of food.

Back to business: Thomas was steward of Monticello for no more than 2 years in the early 1780s. When JEFFERSON was away at the Virginia House of Delegates and during his term as governor of Virginia, Thomas was expected to take care of JEFFERSON’s business affairs and pay his taxes. He also lent money to JEFFERSON who was often cash poor. In return, JEFFERSON paid him back not in wages, but in the money Thomas collected from JEFFERSON’s law accounts, notes and bonds. Thomas became rich on his land investments.

JEFFERSON described Thomas as being "excessively severe" with slaves during their very early association.  Some thirty years later, JEFFERSON was hiring an overseer and described one candidate as "brought up in the school of the Garths... his severity puts him out of the question."

In 1779, Thomas purchased 1,000 acres in Fredericksville Parish for L350 for his final home plantation.  He move into this new home in 1782.  At that point, he was no longer working for JEFFERSON. There is no indication of any issues between the two men; it is likely that Thomas had risen above his station from his wise land investments and had more opportunities in state and county government.   JEFFERSON lived in France between 1784 and 1789 and upon his return, Thomas was one of 13 Albemarle citizens to sign a letter asking JEFFERSON to continue in public office. 

Between 1783 and 1804, Thomas was a tax commissioner in Albemarle. He received a wage of $1 per day. Between 1786 and 1788, he was the Overseer of the Poor for the Virginia General Assembly. That position replaced the work that the Episcopal Church had done prior to dissolution. In 1791, he was appointed Justice of the Peace for Albemarle. By 1800, he owned 2,485 acres, 18 slaves and 14 horses.  During this decade, many roads were built in Albemarle. By 1805, he owned a stage wagon and a one horse carriage (both were taxable). Judith died about 1806. In 1807, he became the High Sheriff of Albemarle. He retired from office in 1808. We found him on the 1810 census in Frederickville, Albemarle Co.

Thomas died in October 1812 in Albemarle Co., VA. He had given most of his land holdings to his sons, but still owned over 3,000 acres. His estate was valued at over L3,000. His last wish was that a quarter of an acre of land in his apple orchard be set aside for a cemetery. This last wish was never granted and no one knows the location of his final resting place.


Davis, Rosalie Edith. The Garth Family: Descendants of John Garth of Virginia, 1734-1986. Dexter, MI: Thomson-Shore, 1988. Print.

Wiencek, Henry. "Master of the Mountain." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016

Interesting Note:
Another descendent of Thomas GARTH was actress Tallulah BANKHEAD

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Capt. John GARTH, Patriot (1762-1835) and Sarah GRIFFITH (1770-1857) -Married about 1796

Old Glory
Edna OTWELL > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL > John F. OTWELL > Quintilla GARTH-OTWELL > John GARTH
John GARTH, eldest child of Thomas GARTH and Judith BOCOCK, was born 15 August 1762 in Albemarle Co., Virginia.

MILITARY SERVICE: In 1832, John applied for and received a Revolutionary War pension. These papers document an interview in which he describes his service.  He served as a private in the Virginia Militia; serving 5 tours – 2 months each between 1778 and 1781. (It is likely that he was recruited at age 16 by Col. Charles LEWIS and was in the Albemarle Barracks when the British and Hessian prisoners arrived 19 January 1779.) Four tours were at the Albemarle Barracks which were not well supplied during this time and the regiment threatened to mutiny for lack of guns and clothing. John was a private in Captain LEAK’s company and in Col. LINDSLEY’s regiment and his last tour was with LAFAYETTE when they retreated in Virginia in 1781.

Signature on pension record
Interesting note - John wrote to his brother Jesse GARTH of Charlottesville, Virginia on 5 November 1813 about the War of 1812 (I do not find any documents saying he served in this war) and described the defeat of British in "Canady" and valor of Jonson's Regiment of mounted militia against the "British regulars"; tells of cowardice of PROCTOR; relates death of "Tecomse" [Tecumseh] by severely wounded Col. T. JONSON; hopes government will now support the war "hart and hand". This letter is in the library of William & Mary College, Virginia.

FAMILY LIFE: At 19 years old, John married Ann Harris RODES (1763-?) in 1782 in Albemarle. She was the daughter of his father’s close friend John RODES. They had at least 6 children: Sarah, Rodes, Judith, Nancy, Thomas and Ann. His parents gave him 294 acres of their tract at Blue Run, but they didn’t stay in Virginia. In March 1789, they moved to the “land of dark and bloody ground” soon to be known as Kentucky. Indian raids were common. They settled on 374 acres near today’s Georgetown in Scott Co.

In 1792, John was on the first board of magistrates for then Woodford County (now part of Scott Co.). He also was appointed as captain of the 12th Regiment of the Kentucky Militia. Ann died by 1795.

John next married our ancestor Sarah GRIFFITH (1770-1857) about 1796. They had at least 8 children: Daniel, Samuel, our ancestor Quintilla OTWELL, Jefferson, Mildred SUTPHIN, Lucinda GRAVES, John Madison and Albert Gallatin. John appeared on the 1800 Kentucky tax list, the 1810, 1820 and 1830 censuses in Scott Co.

After his father’s death in 1812, he inherited land in Virginia which he sold in order to purchase more land in several counties in Kentucky. Like many land owners of this era, John also owned slaves.
2 Nov 1809, Kentucky Gazette, Kentucky Digital Library
John's Advertisement
DEATH: John died 9 November 1835 in Scott Co., KY and is buried in the family plot at now named Walnut Hall Farm, a working farm SE of Georgetown. The original house and this small cemetery were documented as late as 1953, but the stones had been partially destroyed. By 1981, it was confirmed that the gravestones had all been removed.

Excerpt from Transcribed Will of John GARTH, 1833
Found on Familysearch.org

26 Dec 1835 Kentucky Gazette, Kentucky Digital Library
Estate Sale Advertisement
Sarah lived with her sons until her death in 1857. The farm remained in the GARTH family until 1905.

Visit John's on-line memorial:

This also ends the GRIFFITH research.


Davis, Rosalie Edith. The Garth Family: Descendants of John Garth of Virginia, 1734-1986. Dexter, MI: Thomson-Shore, 1988. Print.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Quintilla GARTH-OTWELL (1801-1852)

Monument at Georgetown Cemetery with names Wm. & Quintilla Otwell and Martha DORSEY
Photo courtesy of laribel of www.findagrave.com
2 Smaller stones near monument are daughter Martha's husband and child
Edna OTWELL-SIM > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL > John Franklin OTWELL > Quintilla GARTH-OTWELL

Quintilla Garth was born in Scott County, Kentucky on January 13, 1801.  Her parents were John Garth and Sarah Griffith.  After John's first wife, Ann Rodes, died he married Sarah Griffith.  "Quint" means 5 and Quintilla was John's 5th daughter.  In the Garth household there were at least 15 children, from John's two wives, who were raised in the home.  John Garth's will listed the home as a mansion house.

On the 1810 and 1820 Scott, Kentucky Censuses, Quintilla would have been recorded with a check mark under the age category listed under her father, John Garth, head of household.  Around 1821 she married William Otwell in Scott County.  They had at least six children who were listed as John Franklin, Thomas, Martha, Emily, Mary Ann and Sarah Jane.

On the 1830 Census the family was in Fayette County, Kentucky with five children listed.  They were living on a 100-acre farm.  We next found Quintilla listed in the will of her father, John Garth, dated July 4, 1833.  She was listed as an heir to $1000 and 1/12 share of railroad stock.

Upon the death of her father-in-law, Francis Otwell, Quintilla's family moved back to Scott County in 1839.  Her family lived on a 150-acre farm known as the Frank Otwell Farm.  On the 1840 Census there were six children listed and on the 1850 Census, Quiintilla was recorded as 50-years old living with her husband and four daughters.

Quintilla Garth-Otwell died 10 days short of 51-years old on January 3, 1852.  She was buried in the Georgetown Cemetery, Scott County, Kentucky.

Visit her on-line memorial: