Skaggs Family History



From Early Adventurers on the Western Waters by Kegley, Mary & F. B., pp. 367-368


James Skaggs (also Scaggs, Skeggs) was one of the earliest residents on Meadow Creek, appearing first in 1749 when he served as one of the appraisers of John Elswick's estate. He had lands surveyed as early as 1751 and added other tracts on Meadow Creek and Little River by deed (Chalkley, Chronicles, 111, 18, 293, 321; Augusta County surveys). In 1769 James Skaggs and his wife, Rachel, sold part of their lands to Henry Skaggs and James Skaggs, Jr. probably their sons (Chalkley, Chronicles, 111, 490). Other tracts were disposed of to Thomas Mastin and John Plickinstarvor (Summers, Annals, pp. 668, 671).

In 1776 the Committee of Safety for Fincastle County recorded that Captain James Skaggs was unable to serve any longer because of his infirm state of health, and Thomas Ingles was appointed to succeed him. Presumably this is James Skaggs, Sr. (Harwell, Committee of Safety, p. 76).

There is no record of a will or settlement of James Skaggs' estate in Montgomery County and so no list of children can be established. Other Skaggs mentioned include James, Henry, Charles, Richard, Moses, and Aaron. In the militia records and tithable lists additional names appear including William, Archibald, John Jr., John (Goard Head), Zachariah, Henry (son of Aaron), James (longman) and Jacob. The D.A.R. lists Charles, James, John, and William. The 1810 Montgomery County census only lists Joseph. Marriages for Isaac in 1787, Jeremiah and Peter in 1788, and William in 1825 are recorded in Montgomery County (Montgomery County marriages; 1810 Census; Kegley, Tithables; Kegley, Militia; Kegley, Tax List; D. A. R. Patriot Index).

Rachel Skaggs (probably the wife or widow of James Sr.) had a tract of 150 acres surveyed in her own name based on a certificate from the Commissioners dated 1781. This might indicate that her husband had died prior to this date and before the survey could be made. This tract was assigned to Henry Skaggs in 1784 (Montgomery County Survey Book B, p. 114). There is no record of the death of Rachel Skaggs in Montgomery County.

James Skaggs, Jr. first appeared in the records in 1769 when he received lands from his father and mother, James and Rachel Skaggs. He may be the one designated as "Little James Skaggs" who reported in 1774 that he had seen Indians between Ninian Cloyd's and Peter Poor's (Chalkley, Chronicles, 111, 490; Preston Papers, Draper Mss., 3 QQ 54).

In 1779 he purchased the 100 acres which had been selected by John Buchanan in 1748 from his son, William Buchanan (Augusta County Surveys; Montgomery Deed Book A, p. 190). Here Skaggs operated a ferry across New River, and once in legal possession of the lands, Skaggs petitioned the Montgomery County court to view the possibility of a "nearer and better Road, which may be had either by Skagg's place commonly called the old ferry, or by Dunker Bottom, rather than the one presently occupied by William Ingles." Three months later in March 1779 no report had been forthcoming and men were chosen to meet and view the road by Colonel William Ingles' Ferry from the Sinking Spring on the west side of the New River to the Seven Mile Tree (on the east side) and the way petitioned for by James Skaggs and William Christian, the roads to be measured exactly (Summers, Annals, pp. 699, 705).

In 1785 James Skaggs, Jr. and his wife, Susanna, sold three tracts of land to James McCorkle, 'being land below the mouth of Little River on the east side and a tract on the west side (Montgomery Deed Book A, P. 385). In 1786 part of the old ferry place below the mouth of Little River was sold to Whitts and in 1787 Conrad Wall and James Sallust purchased the remainder of the tract (Montgomery County Deed Book A, pp. 419, 427; Summers, Annals, p. 917). The tract sold to Wall and Sallust had a five acre reservation clause by which Skaggs and his wife, Susanna, reserved this small tract for their own use. There is no will or inventory recorded for either James or his wife in Montgomery County, but because of the reservation it might be assumed that they lived out their lives at the Skaggs' Ferry site. Nothing is recorded about their children in Montgomery County.

Henry Skaggs first appeared in the records of New River in 1769 when he received a tract of land probably from his parents James and Rachel Skaggs (Chalkley, Chronicles, 111, 490). But Henry was not an adventurer in land; his great interest and claim to recognition on the frontier came as a result of his hunting activities. He traveled with the Long Hunters into Kentucky in 1764 and again in 1771 and 1775. He was probably accompanied by other members of his family on various occasions and probably was instrumental in encouraging them to settle in Kentucky as permanent residents. Charles, Richard and Moses Skaggs were known to be residents there prior to 1790, and some of these men may have been his brothers (See Hunters, page 81 for further information and references).

While in Virginia, Henry Skaggs served as a sergeant of a detachment of twelve men who received pay for provisions and four days service in 1774. He was mentioned in Captain Robertson's letter and may have been a member of the scouting party on the Coal River. The names of the twelve men who served with him were as follows: Jno. Bell, Richard Skaggs, Moses Skaggs, Jonathan Elswick, Aaron Skaggs, Jno. Diskins, James Smith, George McCown, William Grissom, Jonas Manifield, James Kell and Shadreck White (Kegley, Soldiers, p. 32; Preston Papers, Draper Mss., 3 QQ45).

In the accounts of Dunmore's War written by Thwaites and Kellogg it was stated that Henry and his brothers were a noted family of hunters and had pushed forward to the Clinch River, and in 1777 were at Shadrack White's Station in the neighborhood of Maiden Spring Fork of Clinch. In 1779 Henry and more than twenty men started for Kentucky but were attacked by Indians in Powell's Valley. Henry, his son John and a man named Sinclair survived to continue their journey to Green County, Ky., but Sinclair was lost and young Skaggs became ill and died. Only Henry returned from the hunting expedition, the horses laden with furs and pelts (Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore's War, p. 239).

In 1782 Henry Skaggs is listed as a resident of Montgomery County and served as an appraiser of the estate of Anthony Payte who died in the same year (Kegley, Tax List, p. 31; Summers, Annal, p. 773). In 1784 Henry Skaggs and his wife, Mary, sold their lands on Little River to William Grayson and about this time disappear from the records (Summers, Annals, 915). It may have been about this time they moved to Kentucky, although other sources place the date at 1789. They settled on Pittman's Creek of the Green River within present Taylor County, Ky. He is said to have died there about 1808 or '09, age about 80 years. Henry Skaggs was a "bold, enterprising and fearless" man, a true adventurer of the early frontier (Thwaites and Kelloggy, Dunmore's War p. 239).



The Skaggs Family in the Census and Land Records


Cavaliers and Pioneers, Vol. 1, 1623-1666

(p. 387) Mar 4, 1658, Thomas Dyer patents 300 acres in Lower Norfolk Co., VA for transport of 6 people including Richard Skegs


Virginia in 1720: A Reconstructed Census by TLC Genealogy



Virginia in 1740: A Reconstructed Census by TLC Genealogy



Virginia in 1760: A Reconstructed Census by TLC Genealogy



Virginia Records of the State Enumerations: 1782 to 1785 by Iberian Publishing Company

Heads of Families-Virginia, 1783-1786

            Scaggs, Jno                  Greenbrier Co.

            Scaggs, Rich’d             Greenbrier Co.

            Scaggs, Tho’s               Greenbrier Co.


1787 Montgomery County, VA Personal Property Tax

Skeggs, Isaac   Self      0          0          0          7          11-ordinary license (?)