"The Alkire Family
of West Virginia"
Carl English Porter
I imagine there are quite as many theories of the origins of our family, as there are researchers. Ian has graciously afforded me an opportunity to present my views. I sometimes find it useful to reject a report, or "tradition", especially when it flies in the face of other truth; such as when siblings are reported being born 5 months apart. To be right all the time is my goal, but I'm not that special! The reader is advised to regard the records here as a "work-in-progress", and subject to being amended as new facts come to light. It is also a very good idea to know that errors have been made by those that came before us. Not all of the records we start with are infallible.
Common mistakes others have found in other families are: reaching back, by supposing people are older then they were. Assuming grandparents, and great-grandparents, always lived where they spent their twilight years. Or sometimes stories from one parent's family got mixed up with stories from the other parent's family. Every time a piece of data is transcribed, there is the likelihood of misreading, and of mis-copying. Even with the utmost care, what a person does not know about old handwriting can allow errors to creep into your records. All these errors and more are present in Alkire source records. Before your interest in genealogy was aroused, how many of your great-grandparents could you have named? When you read the family accounts of those who came before, try to draw an imaginary circle around those with whom the writer had personal knowledge, and take ALL else with a grain of salt. If you know that your source spent a lot of time with his grandparents, the imaginary circle will take a different shape.
One of the prime sources for Alkire research is the biographical
sketch of H. Fremont Alkire, found in Van Cleaf's "History of Pickaway
Cty, Ohio". Virtually the same account was published in the local newspaper
in the series: "Peek At The Past", giving an account of Gabriel
Alkire's family. I believe that Gabriel, and Fremont's father, Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Alkire,
worked together to produce this account of the family, just after the turn
of the century. These two cousins were, no doubt, great friends. They had
been born in the same year, and both had Phebus mothers. That they were working
from written records is clear from their mis-reading of Harmonas as Almonius.
Franks' grandparents, Harmonas & Lydia Alkire, were Gabe's great-grandparents,
making them first cousins, once removed.
On the distaff side, Franks' mother, "Dolly", was a sister to Gabe's maternal grandfather, George Phebus. Said another way, Frank was a first cousin to Gabe's mom, Mary (Phebus) Alkire. It is easy to see how these men would have a hard time keeping the generations straight, especially when the names Michael, John, William, and Harmonas recurred in each generation!
No doubt they were both still mentally strong, but, had they gotten around to their little project 20 years earlier, while in their 60's instead of their early 80's, the results might have been dramatically different. As it was, they ascribed the Maryland origin of the Phebus family, to the Alkires'. If anyone in our Phebus family came with Lord Baltimore, it was on the distaff side of the Phebus family. That is to say, they would have to have been ancestry to one of the women that married into the Phebus family, for the Phebus family have not been in the New World that long either! I believe those that came with Lord Baltimore were a Roman Catholic group. The ancestry that we have been able to identify in the New World, are Protestant.
The early settlers on the South Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River, all spoke German. We have this from George Washington himself, who went through the area as a teenager, surveying for Lord Fairfax. In this place later described as the "garden spot among garden spots", the settlers had nary a crust of bread to spare the surveyors. That would have only been the case for the earliest year or two of settlement. Harmonas "Sr." did -not- marry there ca. 1720, nor was Harmonas "Jr." born there ca 1730, despite the assertions these things did happen. Working from sparse and admittedly suspect Patton information, we've been able to place Lydia Patton's birth at ca 1739. I believe a 1751 marriage would be ludicrous! Using the birth of her oldest surviving child, and allowing a year for conception, and gestation, we arrive at a marriage date ca 1757. I can live with that, 18 is not at all unreasonable as an age for a bride, especially in that time frame.
The names given in the direct lineage reported for Frank and Gabe are probably grounded in the written record mentioned earlier, and, no doubt, represent the personal recollections of at least one of the generation before them. He may be expected to have known the names of his own grandparents, therefore, the great-grandparents given for Frank are probably very reliable. I do suspect that "Craymore" is the surname that I am accustomed to seeing spelled Cramer, or Kramer, but this is just a guess. Those given as siblings to the Harmonas who married Lydia Patton, have not yet been found in contemporary records.
In the restored census of VA., 1790, compiled from tax lists made during the 1780s', we find total of 5 Alkire men. Harmonas, John, Michael, and the two eldest sons of Harmonas, William, & John. We have documented the births of the latter, (William and John), and have reason to believe they moved out of the parental home, and appeared on the tax lists right on schedule. All this leaves Michael, and the older John with no established relationship to Harmonas. I believe the source document used by Frank and Gabe probably established their relationship, but that their namesakes among Harmonas and Lydias' children caused a confusion of the generations, and that record is now lost to us. Did the older John or Michael name a child Harmonas? We did find "Moses" Alkire on a census record near Weston. This could have been a mis-read "Monas". Another son, Emmanuel, "Manuel" could have been a misunderstanding of the name much the same as we believe Monassah Trumbo was named by his mother, Deborah (Alkire) Trumbo, in an effort to commemorate her fathers' name. There are still quite a number of Michael & Catherines' children unaccounted for. Perhaps we may yet find a Harmonas there.
Now, I come to the reason Ian asked me to do this paper. How does Peter Alkire fit into the family? I have just explained how the tax lists suggest three branches of the Alkire family tree: 1) HARMONAS & LYDIA; 2) JOHN & CHRISTINA; 3) MICHAEL & CATHERINE. John & Christina left the South Branch in 1784, resettling near Weston, WVa. Peter, b. 1773, age 11, would not have been left behind. The Harmonas & Lydia branch moved in waves to Ky. soon after, are well documented, and did not include Peter. Michael & Catherine remained in the South Branch, and he (Michael) died there in 1819, after which several of his progeny resettled in Missouri, including the families of Solomon B. Alkire, Barbara (Alkire) Iman, Elizabeth (Alkire) Drace, and Michael Alkire, Jr. I believe Peter was an older brother of these, who did not relocate to Missouri, but who remained in the Valley of the South Branch of the Potomac. He did name a son Solomon. I would like to see if property records would not confirm all these relationships, and perhaps some others.
Sept. 18, 1998