Surname Origins

Chapter V: The Chappells

        One of the fun things about genealogy is trying to figure out what sort of people our ancestors were. With people who were public figures there are often contemporary descriptions of them that we can fall back on. Sometimes a letter or other document has survived and this can give valuable clues to a person’s personality. If none of these are available, sometimes artwork or crafts can tell us something about their maker. Sometimes just oral tradition handed down through the generations can be helpful. With our early American ancestors, none of this is available. The oral tradition has been lost, and the only documents we have are wills and deeds, written by lawyers in legalese. Wills can give us some clues, but mostly we have to rely on facts like birth dates, marriages, burials, land records and migrations, and do a lot of reading between the lines. To me the Bickels and Browns come across, like many of their German immigrant contemporaries, as serious minded, hard working, disciplined people. They came from a much oppressed background and through hard work and single mindedness of purpose, worked their way quickly up the economic ladder and became independent and successful. Family and church ties seemed to be strong.
        The next branch of the family tree, the Chappells, [see pedigree chart] comes across to me somewhat differently. To me the Chappells seem to be more carefree and adventurous. The Bickels and Browns were adventurous out of necessity, but you could hardly describe them as carefree. The Chappells came from England, and although England was not a perfect society, things were never as bad there as they were in the Palatinate. Often times people left England for America out of a spirit of adventure as well as for taking a chance on bettering themselves economically. Some of them even departed just one step ahead of the law and many of the very earliest immigrants to Virginia were actually prisoners. Just because they were prisoners, however, did not necessarily mean they were criminals. For a time some unscrupulous ship captains rounded up street people in England on trumped up charges and brought them to America where they then served as indentured servants. The practice of sending prisoners to the Virginia colony had been stopped by the last half of the 1600s.
        When indentured servants finished their term of service, many of them ventured west to squat on new farmland. This was causing problems with the Indians, and the colony was hard pressed to defend them. To discourage the practice the colonial legislature taxed these settlers heavily, and this resulted in Bacon’s Rebellion that had to be put down by force. This was one of the reasons the practice of indentured servants was discontinued. After this the colony looked increasingly to black African slaves to work in the tobacco fields.
        The exact circumstances that caused our Chappell ancestors to come to America are still obscure. Most of the earliest immigrants from England to Virginia fell into two categories. First there were those who came to receive headrights. Headrights amounted to fifty acres of land per adult. Tobacco farming was very labor intensive and generally required workers other than just members of the immediate family. Indentured servants provided the labor and they formed the second main category of immigrants. Indentured servants brought from England also claimed headrights, but because they were indentured their masters owned these rights. The neighboring colony of Maryland operated under pretty much the same system, except that the headrights there were even more generous, amounting to one hundred acres for each adult and fifty acres per child. African slaves were introduced to Virginia in 1619. At first they were treated as indentured servants, but when their terms of indenture expired they had no other recourse but to continue working. They were not permitted to own land. Their status as permanent slaves therefore, evolved gradually.
        In England, the Chappell name goes back many centuries. Very early on the spelling is sometimes seen as Chappelle, and the name is thought to have a French origin, and was probably first brought across the English Channel with the Norman invaders in 1066. After 1572 there were also a large number of French people that came to England when the Huguenots were first expelled from France after the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, but there is proof that our Chappells were present in England before that time. How the name was pronounced initially is conjecture, but today’s descendants pronounce it Cha'pel (rhymes with apple).
        At the present time we can trace our Chappell line in America only as far back as the early 1700s. At that time there were Chappell families living in Princess Anne County on the coast of Virginia to the east and southeast of Norfolk. Princess Anne County no longer exists, because it now is contained wholly in the entity of the city of Virginia Beach. Just when the first Chappells came to Princess Anne County is uncertain. There are English records that show Chappells who immigrated to America before 1700, but there is currently no absolute proof to show just which one of these was our ancestor.50 The very first Chappell in America was Bennett Chappell, who was in the group of explorers who preceeded the famed lost Roanoke Colony in North Carolina in 1585. He returned to England with the rest of that group the following year. The “lost colony” arrived in 1587, so it is known that he wasn’t with that group.
The LDS web site,, has a listing for a John Chappell, born in 1600 as the son of Bennett Chappell, and so it is possible for him to be one of the John Chappells listed in the next paragraph.
        In 1895, one Phil E. Chappell compiled an extensive family history of the Chappell family, and then updated it five years later.51 He identified eight male Chappell immigrants to America prior to 1700. The Chappells he identified were George Chappell who arrived in Massachusetts in 1634, Andrew Chappell who came to Maryland, also in 1634, John Chappell who settled in Warwick County, Virginia in 1635, Thomas Chappell who came to Charles City County, Virginia also in 1635, John Chappell who was captain of the ship, Speedwell, Joshua Chappell who reportedly died sailing between the Caribbean Island of Barbados and America, a John Chappell who was a prisoner on Barbados and who subsequently sailed for America, and Jonah Chappell, an English immigrant also on the island of Barbados, who may later have come to Virginia.52 Phil Chappell obtained these names from a list, compiled in England by John C. Hotten, of emigrants who went to America and were required to take an oath of allegiance before embarking. He then studied land records of the Colony of Virginia, and of several early Virginia counties to trace the subsequent movement of the various families.
        Recently I studied records in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City from a variety of sources, including abstracts of the original land patents, quit rent records, and land records from a few counties that were not studied by Mr. Chappell. I was able to identify eleven more Chappells who, prior to 1700, were imported as indentured servants and whose headrights were assigned to other landowners. In addition I found some land patents issued to Chappells who seemed to be different individuals from the ones identified in Phil Chappell’s book. So the problem of identifying our immigrant ancestor looks to be a daunting task.
        Phil Chappell identified a colony of Chappells that he called the Tidewater branch. These were thought to descend from a single immigrant, the John Chappell who settled in Warwick County. Warwick County is now the city of Newport News and sits on the north side of Norfolk harbor across from the city of Norfolk. The family lived in the area of Warwick County, Elizabeth City County, and York County until sometime in the 1720s. Besides the original immigrant, John Chappell, identified as an immigrant coming on the ship, Assurance, in 1635, I found an indentured servant, Robert Chappell who was brought to Warwick County in 1642. Other than that, I did not find any other immigrants to that specific area of Virginia, so in this group they probably all descend from these two individuals. At some point at least some of these families converted to the Quaker religion, and in the 1720s they migrated southward into eastern North Carolina. It is during this period that our ancestor, George Chappell, shows up in a land transaction in Princess Anne County (present day Virginia Beach). On March 31, 1722, he purchased fifty acres of land from Luke and Ann Moseley.53 Because of the timing and because of the proximity to the migrating Tidewater branch, I think it is very likely our George Chappell was part of this extended family.54
        This particular branch of the Chappells seemed to have a predilection for using the names of Old Testament prophets for their given names. The name Malachi Chappell appears in the Perquimans County, North Carolina Chappell family. Malachi is otherwise not a common name, but it crops up again in a grandson of Stephen’s son, George. Certainly not conclusive evidence, but just another suggestion that the families may be connected. Like the Princess Anne County Chappells, the Perquimans County Chappells were Loyalists during the Revolutionary War. Some, but not all, had become Quakers.
        So the earliest name of a known Chappell ancestor we have in America is George Chappell. He was probably born in the 1690's. He was married to Elizabeth Barnes sometime in the early 1720's. On March 31, 1722, George bought 50 acres of land from Luke Moseley in the lower precinct of the Eastern Shore of Lynnhaven Parish in Princess Anne County. In October 1723 a lawsuit between him and Anthony Barnes was dismissed for lack of cause. George's wife, Elizabeth, was the daughter of an Anthony Barnes, but she also had a brother, Anthony Barnes, Jr. It is not known whether this was primarily a legal or family dispute, or if it occurred before or after their marriage. The details of the lawsuit, such as who was suing whom were not made clear. Possibly it was the marriage that eventually smoothed things over.
        Elizabeth’s parents, Anthony and Elizabeth Barnes had at one point become embroiled in court cases involving charges of witchcraft. In the year 1698 one Grace Sherwood of Princess Anne County was accused of witchcraft. She was a somewhat notorious character who was said to be beautiful, independent and inclined to be flirtatious with other women’s husbands. Also she supposedly danced naked in the moonlight and wore men's clothing when she chose to do so. Witchcraft was a hot topic in the 17th century, both in Europe and America, and especially in New England. However, the Virginia colony had opted for a more reasonable approach to the issue and in Lower Norfolk County (this was prior to the establishment of Princess Anne County in 1691) a court ruled in 1655 that persons who raised such accusations and could not prove the issue upon oath and by sufficient witnesses, should be liable to pay the accused one thousand pounds of tobacco and be liable to further Censure of the Court.
        Anthony and Elizabeth Barnes were among the people who accused this woman of witchcraft, and Grace retaliated by suing for slander. Elizabeth charged that “the said Grace came to her one night and rid her and went out of the keyhole or crack of the door like a Black Cat," but this was one of only two cases where Grace Sherwood did not prevail.
        In the year 1706 Elizabeth Barnes became embroiled in this issue again. This case seems to have been started in December of 1705 when Grace Sherwood brought suit against one Luke Hill for assault and battery. Early in 1706 Luke Hill and his wife accused Grace of witchcraft. During the subsequent court proceedings a jury of twelve women was convened to examine her body for marks thought to be characteristic of witches. Elizabeth Barnes was the forewoman of the jury. The jury found "two things like titts with several spots." How this case was resolved is not completely known because some of the court proceedings are now missing from the records but apparently Grace at one point had to submit to a trial of ducking to see if she would float when her arms and legs were bound. It was thought that witches would float and not drown. Precautions were ordered by the court to be taken to prevent her from drowning in the event that she did not float. Grace’s will was proven in 1740, so it can be presumed that she survived all of these trials.
        George and Elizabeth Chappell had at least two children, John and George. There was also probably a daughter, Elizabeth. When he died in 1739, his son, George, was a minor who was bound out to a Robert Holmes for the purpose of learning to read and write and to learn the trade of weaver. The elder George Chappell apparently died without a will, because the estate was sold to satisfy debts and to “pay for the benefit of his children.” The other son, our ancestor John Chappell, received his share of the estate in 1743. George received his share in 1749. In 1754 there is a petition from Elizabeth Chappell for her to receive her part of the estate. It would be presumed from this transaction that she was the sister of John and George, but this is apparently unclear from the courthouse documents, which had become intermingled with a different case.
        In the 1760s both George and John were involved in different minor lawsuits. John Chappell vs. Epraphroditus Munden was over a debt, and the outcome was not published. Starting in 1758, there are numerous land deeds and leases showing land being bought, sold and/or leased involving George, John and a Henry Chappell, who I suspect may have been a son of George’s. The land involved is near the town of Pungo, and is between Pungo and Back Bay, a bay that encroaches inland from the outer banks of the southern part of the county. In 1758 George bought 50 acres of land from Thomas Cannon. He sold this land in 1759, and in 1760 he leased 270 acres. In 1761 he bought 30 more acres. In February 1767 there is a sale of 70 acres of land to John Chappell, and subsequent resale a month later. On the resale, the deed abstract identifies John Chappell and “Mary his wife”. Although no other land deeds have surfaced, he obviously had other land because in his will he distributed land to some of his children.
       John and Mary had 8 children. Our ancestor, Stephen Chappell, was the second oldest and was born in 1750. John Chappell died in February 1774. His will was recorded on February 10.55 Under terms of the will, Stephen inherited fifty acres of land, a feather bed, some furniture, a gun, two sows, and was to share in the proceeds from the sale of the remainder of the estate. Farming was apparently not his mettle. The estate was inventoried and recorded in July 1774, and in April of 1775 Stephen sold this land to Jonathan Mackie.
        John Chappell’s death coincided with some turbulent times in America. 1773 was the year of the Boston Tea Party, and the British government had responded with repressive measures against Massachusetts, which included the closing of Boston harbor and ultimately with the disbanding of all of the colonial legislatures. Throughout 1774 residents of the other colonies began to rally to their defense. Strong feelings against the British were building. Undoubtedly much of the country was still making up its mind before choosing between the Patriot and Loyalist camps. Ultimately Patriot sentiment prevailed, but it wasn’t unanimous. About two-fifths of the people would end up supporting the Patriots, two-fifths would be neutral, and one fifth would support the Loyalists.
        Legislatures in twelve of the thirteen colonies sent delegates to the first Continental Congress in the fall of 1774. Congress devised and organized the Association, whose members agreed to boycott British and British West Indies products. Colonists also began to prepare for war. In the late fall and winter of 1774-1775 there was vigorous debate in the British Parliament about how to respond. The government opposition argued for conciliatory measures to solve the crisis, but they lost out to the ruling party, and to George III and his advisors who opted for a show of force and a military showdown. General Gage in Boston was given instructions to use his troops. In April of 1775 he sent them to Lexington and Concord to destroy military supplies that the Patriots had stashed and to attempt the capture of American Patriot leaders, Samuel Adams and John Hancock. This is the same month that Stephen Chappell sold his land.
        Things escalated rapidly from this point on. In August 1775, Britain declared the colonies to be in a state of rebellion, and in November the Prohibitory Act was passed, which withdrew the king’s protection and established a naval blockade. This act precipitated events that would profoundly affect Stephen. Virginia’s capital at this time was in nearby Williamsburg. A buildup of arms by Patriot groups in the area made Governor Dunmore uncomfortable enough to seek refuge in Norfolk and under protection of the British fleet in Norfolk harbor. On November 7, he declared martial law. Now, with Norfolk as his headquarters, Lord Dunmore launched some attacks. His military units initially overran a Patriot position southeast of the city, but a few weeks later in the Battle of the Great Bridge, he was completely routed, the Patriots took control of the city, and he retreated to the fleet.
        When the military action started in the Norfolk area, Lord Dunmore had issued a plea to the African slaves in the area to join his forces, promising them their freedom in return. He was disappointed in the response and he ultimately was only able to field a few black companies in his “Ethiopian Corps,” so at this time he issued a call to “all persons capable of bearing arms to report to his Majesty’s standard.”56 In the aftermath of the British defeat at the Battle of the Great Bridge many panicky Loyalists followed Dunmore onto the ships in the harbor. Dunmore had not intended the invitation to extend to whole families, but come along they did, piling into the ships. The overcrowded ships soon spawned epidemics of disease, including smallpox. This was especially devastating to his Ethiopian Corps, who seemed to have little resistance to it. Bodies of the deceased victims were thrown overboard and washed up on shore where they lay untended. Food supplies and drinkable water also soon ran short. On New Year’s Day he shelled the city from the harbor and ignited massive fires, which largely destroyed the city of Norfolk. The Patriot forces then finished the task of burning down the rest of the city in an attempt to keep it from being used by the British.57
        Skirmishes between the two sides would continue on and off for the next several months. Conditions aboard the ships didn’t much improve. The passengers were kept alive by periodic foraging parties to the mainland to acquire food. Finally in late May the fleet retreated about thirty miles further north to Gwynn Island, an island just off the western shore of Chesapeake Bay. The passengers disembarked, but within about a month, the resources of the island had been exhausted. American troops gathered on the opposite shore, but held their attack pending the decision of the Continental Congress to declare American independence. As soon as word came of the Declaration of Independence the Americans opened fire on the island and on the fleet, and the fleet began to move away. The following day they crossed to the island and found “bodies strewn about, the sick gasping for help and some burned to death in the brush huts accidentally set on fire.” Dunmore’s fleet lingered on for about three more weeks during which time about two hundred more people died on his ships. He then departed for the Bahamas but ultimately on to New York, arriving in August 1776.58
        After the Battle of the Great Bridge in November of 1775, the Tory sympathizers who were unable to get on Dunmore’s ships dispersed into the countryside. Many of them found refuge in Princess Anne County. This resulted in a precarious situation for those who took them in. A severe food shortage resulted, not only because of the additional mouths to feed, but also because of the foraging raids from the British ships. In addition to that they were subject to scrutinization by the Committee of Safety, which had been given the job of rooting out Tory traitors.59 This naturally would have resulted in a potentially explosive situation as neighbor lined up against neighbor and this was to have drastic consequences in the Chappell family, as we will see later.
        Stephen was probably on board one of the ships. Lord Dunmore had recruited local Loyalists to fight for him and he had formed and commanded the “Queen’s Own Loyal Virginia Regiment.” Muster rolls for this unit have never been available, so it’s impossible to prove he was in it, but Stephen’s subsequent presence in New York amongst the British army strongly suggests that he was. The “Queen’s Own Loyal Virginia Regiment” was disbanded in New York, and new units were formed. One of these units was the “Loyal American Regiment of Foot” which was commanded by a Beverly Robinson of Princess Anne County, Virginia. Muster records show that Stephen Chappell enlisted on Oct. 9, 1777, and he was sick in quarters from December 30, 1777, through February 28, 1778, but British military records show him in service beginning in December 1777. From that point on, he is consistently on this unit’s muster rolls and on British military records.60
        Back in Princess Anne County, in July 1776, Stephen’s brother, David, and possibly his mother, Mary Chappell,61 as well as a Sarah Martin are charged with murdering one Joel Cornish. Cornish was a neighbor of the Chappells and was a member of the local Committee of Safety. Land transaction deeds from the 1760s show land descriptions where the two families had common boundaries. At a preliminary court hearing in Princess Anne County, the charge against Mary is dismissed, but in August, a Rueben Love “makes oath that he is afraid that Mary Chappell of this county “will privately kill or destroy him or destroy some of his effects.”62 David Chappell and Sarah Martin are bound over for trial. At this time in Virginia all misdemeanors were tried in the local counties, but all felonies were heard at the capitol in Williamsburg. Court was held four times a year. It had been the custom for the royal governor to preside at these trials, but at this time the royal governor had been ousted and the new state governor, Patrick Henry, presided. Jonathan Mackie, who had bought Stephen’s farmland in 1775, testified in the trial against them. The charges against Sarah Martin were dismissed, but the jury brought a verdict of manslaughter against David. He was sentenced to be “burnt in the hand." The sentence was carried out on the spot. This was a common punishment for crime in the British justice system of that time. Because the sentence was for manslaughter, an “M” was branded onto his hand. If he had been a thief it would have been a “T.” There were no prison sentences handed out to criminals at this time. The alternate sentence would have been execution. A person convicted a second time would have this brand mark on him, and he would then be sentenced to death. Just what this feud was about is still unknown, but it is probably safe to assume that it had something to do with the political and military situation in Princess Anne County described above. It was in late July, 1776, that the British ships sailed away from this area, so Stephen Chappell was probably still here when this killing took place and I speculate that this might have been one of the reasons he left with the British.
        In 1780, with the war stalemated in the northern colonies, the British decided to bring the war to the Carolinas. Loyalist support had been stronger in the southern colonies, and the British were counting on this dissident minority to rise up and support their cause. In 1778 they had been successful in taking Savannah from the rebels, and they had successfully defended it against attack in 1779. Now they planned on taking Charleston and capturing the rest of the South. When an up and coming British officer named Patrick Ferguson selected about 300 troops from the Loyal American Regiment for this purpose,63 Stephen Chappell was included. Sir Henry Clinton was in command of the British forces in New York, and he sailed from New York in late 1779. Part of the forces, including Ferguson’s unit, were landed in Georgia and they marched overland to Charleston where they met up with Clinton’s forces who had begun to attack. After a siege from land and the sea lasting forty-five days, Charleston fell on May 12. This was a major defeat for the rebels. Charleston was the fourth largest city in America, and was the major city in the south. The British were quick to follow up and pursue the retreating rebels, and on May 29 a cavalry unit led by Col. Banastre Tarleton overtook a column of Virginia Continentals, and completely annihilated them. Men attempting to surrender were slaughtered. It was reported that for “fifteen minutes after the battle was over the British went over the ground, plunging their bayonets into everyone who exhibited signs of life.” For the next several months “Tarleton’s Quarter” and “Bloody Tarleton” would become a rebel battle cry, and the British would later have to pay for this indiscretion.
        Clinton returned to New York with a large part of his forces and left General Cornwallis in command of those that stayed behind. Cornwallis marched north towards North Carolina. Ferguson marched his men toward the western backcountry of the Carolinas. His plan was to recruit a Loyalist army from among the Carolina residents still loyal to the crown and in this he was largely successful. While Cornwallis soon had another major victory when he defeated the hero of Saratoga, General Gates, at Camden, South Carolina, Ferguson was busy scouring the Carolina backcountry for recruits. In September of 1780 Ferguson, with seventy of the men he had brought from New York, and several hundred Tories that he had recruited in the Carolinas, left to set up camp at Gilbert Town in western North Carolina.64 Unlike Tarleton, he was relying more on diplomacy than on the sword. Some of the local Loyalists that he recruited, however, antagonized the populace with their foraging parties, rounding up not only cattle and crops, but also furniture and other valuables and sometimes killing their neighbors and burning their homes. They were essentially preying on their neighbors, and for this they would later pay a price.
        After settling in at Gilbert Town his troops routed a Patriot force under the command of Colonel Charles McDowell, and then he called for the local populace to come in under his protection and swear allegiance to George III. McDowell’s force retreated over the mountains, and local residents began to come in as Ferguson had demanded. What Ferguson didn’t know was that they were deliberately being encouraged to do so by the American rebels as a plan to save their cattle herds from destruction by the British.65 Ferguson was taken in by this ruse and this may have contributed to the overconfidence with which he approached the subsequent events.
        In spite of their early victories the British position began to slowly deteriorate. They had 8,345 men to control the area, but the general populace was proving hard to pacify. The entire countryside was seething with civil war. The citizens of South Carolina ultimately suffered more from the effects of the war than any other colony. The Americans had some wily guerrillas like the swamp fox, Francis Marion, to make quick strike raids, and the army was getting reinforcements from the men west of the Appalachian Mountains. Ferguson, who up until now seemed to be making good progress, then made one disastrous judgment call. On September 10, from his headquarters in Gilbert Town, he dispatched a paroled rebel soldier to carry an ultimatum to the men in the over the mountain areas. He ordered them to “desist from their opposition to the British arms, and take protection under his standard,” and if they didn’t, he would “march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword.” 66
        The threat did not have its intended effect. Instead it produced a flurry of activity as the people of the wild mountain areas scurried to raise an army. One needs to remember that in the settling of America, it had been a tradition to maintain a local militia, and that members of the militia would meet periodically for training. Also this mountain area had only recently been the scene of bloody battles between the settlers and the Indians. There were many men in these areas with fighting experience.
        Four Patriot leaders immediately set about to assemble an army. The first military leader that received Ferguson’s threat was Isaac Shelby, of the Washington County area of North Carolina, now a part of Tennessee. He had just returned from leading a fighting force that had been forced back across the mountains by General Gates defeat at Camden. Upon receiving this message, he immediately rode to consult with his friend John Sevier. Sevier, a descendant of the French Huguenots, who would later become governor of Tennessee, would be one of the heroes of the impending battle. Sevier and Shelby in turn put out a request for help from Col. William Campbell of Virginia, and Col. Charles McDowell from Burke County, North Carolina.67 Campbell at first balked, then reconsidered.68
        The rendezvous was set for September 25, at Sycamore Shoals, which is near present day Elizabethton, Tennessee. Sevier arrived with 240 men from Washington County. Shelby came with 240 men from adjacent Sullivan County. McDowell came with 150 men from Burke and Rutherford Counties in North Carolina, and Campbell rode into camp with 400 Virginians. Catharine Brown Bickel’s future brother-in-law, Frederick Leonard, was with Campbell’s army. Sevier and Shelby pledged about $12,000 of their own money to replace public moneys that they had coaxed out of a public official.69
        On September 26, they were ready to move out of camp to cross the mountains. Wilma Dykeman in her book With Fire and Sword describes the scene. “In the dewy autumn dawn of September 26th, the camp was an anthill of activity as horses were saddled, cattle were rounded up, and families made ready for parting. The horses were precious; many had been lost in Indian raids. Amidst the tumult of humans and animals, shouts and tears, military orders and whispered farewells, Samuel Doak, graduate of the institution that would become Princeton University, founder of the first regular school west of the Alleghenies, who had brought the first books into the Tennessee country on his horse’s back, while he walked, was ready to pronounce a prayer for the expedition. Leaning on their rifles, the mountain men listened to the preacher’s rhetoric as he likened their cause to that of Gideon’s people, in the Bible, opposing the Midianites. Doak prayed for the victory he confidently predicted, and then in an upswelling confidence he offered the little army its battle cry:

    ‘The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!’ he thundered.
       They echoed the words. ‘The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!’
Then they swung into their saddles and began the long ride to find Ferguson and confront the British threat to their freedom.”70
        They encountered snow as they crossed the Appalachians, but five days march brought them to Quaker Meadows near Morgantown, North Carolina, fifty miles as the crow flies. On the third day out they had slaughtered some of the cattle, and left the rest behind because the cattle were impeding their progress. At Quaker Meadows they received further reinforcements. Colonels Winston and Cleveland brought 350 men from Wilkes and Surrey Counties. Some of these men may have been later neighbors of Stephen Chappell. Stephen lived in this area of North Carolina from 1796 to 1810. James Williams brought 400 South Carolinians.
        An attempt had been made to get General Gates to assign them a general, but no response was obtained. The Virginian, Campbell, an imposing figure and well respected (as well as being brother-in-law to Patrick Henry) was elected the overall leader.71 But it was the more experienced Shelby that issued the key directive: "When we encounter the enemy, don’t wait for the word of command. Let each one of you be your own officer, and do the very best you can, taking every care you can of yourselves, and availing ourselves of every advantage that chance may throw in your way.”72

        Now they needed to find Ferguson’s men. Patrick Ferguson knew they were coming. Two Patriot deserters had spread the word. Two days march brought the army to Ferguson’s headquarters at Gilbert Town, only to find him gone. Increasingly uneasy about his position, he had begun to move towards Cornwallis’ army in Charlotte, but when he found himself on King’s Mountain just thirty-five miles from Cornwallis, he decided he had found the location to make his stand. The Patriot army caught up with him on October 7, just eleven days after leaving the Sycamore Shoals Rendezvous.
   The Battle of Kings Mountain on the North and South Carolina border was unique. With the singular exception of the British Commander, Captain Ferguson, it was fought entirely by Americans. Ferguson had about 1,000 provincial Loyalist soldiers recruited in the Carolinas, as well as seventy of the American Volunteers he had brought from New York. The Patriots countered this with about 1,500-1,800 men, but not all of the Patriot troops reached King’s Mountain before the battle was fought. Buchanan estimated that numerically the two sides were about equal, with each side fielding about 1000-1100 men. Ferguson deployed his troops on the mountain top, which consisted of a long narrow ridge which was about one-hundred and twenty feet wide at one end and narrowed to about sixty feet wide at the other end, and was about 1800 feet long.
        The battle began on October 7, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The Loyalists fired the first shots when they spotted Shelby’s men approaching. Soon Shelby’s and Campbell’s men were advancing up the slope, Indian style, taking advantage of the abundant cover. They were able to accurately train their muskets on the silhouettes on the hilltop while escaping the return fire. Realizing that their return fire was ineffective, Ferguson ordered a bayonet charge, and forced the rebels to the bottom of the hill. Campbell rallied his men, halted the retreat and resumed the advance. Twice more in the next hour they were able to repel bayonet charges. The bayonet charge against Campbell’s advancing men was carried out by the American Volunteers. Buchanan states that of the seventy Volunteers that started the battle only about twenty survived intact. Catharine Brown Bickel’s brother-in-law, Frederick Leonard was in Campbell’s army, so during the battle Stephen Chappell of the American Volunteers and Frederick Leonard in Campbell’s army would have been matched against each other during the bayonet charge.
        While this was going on at one end, the other Patriot commanders were surrounding the rest of the mountain, and after the third bayonet attack, the Loyalists found themselves under attack from all sides, and gradually they were compressed into a smaller and smaller space. The battle was going badly for them. They were being annihilated by the deadly musket fire. When some tried to raise a white flag of surrender, Ferguson rode by to cut it down. Two horses were shot down from under him as he rode about attempting to rally his troops. He was finally shot down while on a third as he attempted to break through Sevier’s lines. Soon afterward white flags of surrender were raised all around the battlefield, but they were ignored by many and probably not understood by others and for a while the battle raged on. Cries of “Tarleton’s Quarter” undoubtedly were shouted. But the fighting gradually subsided. One soldier from Virginia was reprimanded by Campbell as he was taking aim with his rifle. “For God’s sake, don’t shoot! It is murder to kill them now, for they have raised the flag.” (When I first read that, I wondered if that rifle was being aimed at my ancestor).
        The battle reportedly lasted only one hour. The Patriot army suffered twenty-eight dead and sixty-two wounded. They took 600 prisoners. Simple math then gives you five hundred Loyalists killed or wounded out of 1,100. An unknown number were injured. Stephen Chappell was among those taken prisoner.
        The Battle of Kings Mountain marked the turning of the tide in the last phase of the Revolutionary War during which time the British attempted to subdue the southern colonies. This battle put to rest the British hope that southern Loyalists would rally in large numbers to their cause and turn the tide of the war in their favor. After King’s Mountain there was only their narrow victory at Guilford Courthouse and in that battle the British lost so many soldiers that they decided to withdraw from the Carolinas.
        The life of a soldier in the Revolutionary War was never one of ease and comfort. On the American side it has long been well documented how poorly clothed and fed they were. In addition to that hardship, while they were in the field, they were subject to the discomforts of the elements. They would be subject to long, forced marches, irregular mealtimes, and sometimes would have to sleep in the open. On the British side things were undoubtedly better. They at least were assured of being well supplied with life’s basic essentials, but a soldier’s life was hard nonetheless. However, the next few days must have been a private hell for Stephen. In addition to suffering the humiliation of defeat, he had seen his Commander, and many comrades killed and others that were maimed. He most likely had to assist in the burials that were done hastily that evening and continued the next morning. The dead were thrown into piles and covered with logs, bark and rocks, but not securely enough to prevent them from being subsequently preyed upon by wild animals and birds. In the morning the scene was made more tragic when families of the Loyalist soldiers appeared in large numbers to learn their loved ones fate.
        The prisoners were lined up for the march to Morgantown, North Carolina. They were required to carry their own weapons, minus the flints from the locks. The wounded were carried on litters improvised by stretching blankets over two horses and putting the wounded soldier between the horses. The march started at 10:00 AM. The progress was slow. The surrounding countryside had been picked bare already by the foraging armies, and there was little food. Some sweet potatoes and green pumpkin were found and were fried for the soldiers. For the prisoners Dykeman reports that “raw corn on the ear and pumpkins were thrown into their midst as if they were farmer’s swine.”
        Progress was slow. After a week of marching, only forty miles had been covered. Tempers were frayed. On the fourth day Col. Campbell included this statement in his General Order: “I must request the officers of all ranks in the army to endeavor to restrain the disorderly manner of slaughtering and disturbing the prisoners.”
        Citizens encountered along the way told stories about individual Loyalist atrocities against Patriot citizens. The story of Tarleton’s massacre was retold around the camp. On October 14, seven days into the march, a makeshift court was convened. A jury of twelve North Carolinian officers was seated and thirty-six Loyalist prisoners were tried for “breaking open houses, killing the men, turning the women and children out of doors, and burning the houses.” They were found guilty and sentenced to death. It was by then late at night, and the scene was lit by pine knot torches. A giant oak tree was found and the hangings were begun, three at a time. A halt to the proceedings was called after the ninth man was hanged. The anger was spent. The nine men were left hanging as a warning to local Loyalists.
        The over mountain soldiers that made up the bulk of the patriot army were anxious to go home. They were not regulars, and they had done what they had come to do. There were rumors that Tarleton’s men were after them. (In reality both Cornwallis and Tarleton had fallen ill and when Cornwallis learned of Ferguson’s fate, he and his army had retreated back into South Carolina). Keeping track of the prisoners became a secondary concern. The day after the hangings, more than one hundred prisoners escaped. On the rest of the march to Morgantown and the subsequent march to Hillsborough, North Carolina, many more escaped, and probably some were paroled. The number of prisoners who were exchanged at Hillsborough was only 130. These 130 had all been exchanged by February 1781. The Continental Congress and Thomas Jefferson personally, reacted with anger and disappointment when they learned about the loss of these prisoners, who could have been used as exchange for Patriot prisoners held by the British.
        Whether Stephen Chappell escaped or was exchanged is not known. But as his fate was being decided, the war was still going on. In January 1781, the Patriot General Daniel Morgan, soundly defeated the hated Tarleton in the Battle of Cowpens, just twenty-five miles west of King’s Mountain. Morgan then joined up with General Nathaniel Greene, who had replaced General Gates. On March 15, these generals faced Cornwallis’ army near Greensboro, North Carolina in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Cornwallis, though outnumbered, won a narrow victory, but lost one-fourth of his troops. He withdrew to the coast and in May, he brought his troops into Virginia and on to Yorktown for his date with destiny.
        The Guilford Courthouse battlefield is about forty miles west of Hillsborough, where Stephen might have been exchanged, and twenty miles east of the Moravian Settlement where the wounded men from the battle were taken. One of these wounded men was destined to have an important effect on Stephen’s life. But whether Stephen met Peter Kinder in the aftermath of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, or later after becoming neighbors in Wythe County, Virginia, I haven’t been able to determine.
        In 1742 Peter and Mary Kinder were among the first Germans settlers to come to the area of the Roanoke River in Montgomery County, Virginia. They took up land where Peter’s Creek flows into the Roanoke River, now within the city of Roanoke. The land warrants were filed in 1747. Both died in a massive flood in 1749, leaving four orphan children, one of whom was a son also named Peter. The orphan children were given over to the “wardens of the church.” Peter’s name again surfaces as a landowner in the 1770s in the Reed Creek area in the part of Montgomery County, which eventually became Wythe County. He was married to Margaret Daud, and was a member of Kimberling Church near the town of Rural Retreat. He was with a militia unit that fought in the Indian battle at Point Pleasant in 1775 during Lord Dunmore’s War. He was said to have Tory tendencies, but was drafted to serve in the Revolutionary army. He was wounded in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in March of 1781. His wife crossed the mountains into North Carolina, to bring him home.73 Somehow Peter Kinder and Stephen Chappell met and Stephen apparently accompanied him home.
          In October of 1782, Stephen Chappell and his new wife Juliana, have their son, George, baptized in Kimberling Church. The Guilford Courthouse battle was fought in March 1782. The baby most likely was conceived in about February or March so how they met isn’t really known. Juliana later testified for Peter Kinder’s wife, Margaret, when in 1845 she applied for a pension based on Peter’s Revolutionary War service. “She stated that she was personally acquainted with Peter Kinder and his wife before they were married, and after, and that she lived with them one winter after they were married. She knew that he was called off to the war, and she was told that he was wounded, and knew that his wife went over the Blue Ridge to bring her husband home after he was wounded.” To account for the timeline it would appear that Juliana probably accompanied Margaret Kinder to North Carolina and met Stephen there.
           Not much is known about Juliana, except that she was born in Pennsylvania of German parents, and that she was living in or had lived in the household of Peter Kinder around the time she married Stephen Chappell. The circumstances would suggest that Juliana might possibly have been a sister or another close relative of either Margaret or Peter. Kimberling was a German church, used by both Lutherans and Reformed. It is located in the extreme western part of Montgomery County (now Wythe County). The early records are in the German language, and his name appears as Christopher Schapbel. Christopher is sometimes used as the German equivalent of Stephen, or Steophel. This church also records that he signed at communion for two people on August 25, 1793. Peter Kinder’s name is on the same list. (Only two communion records have been published. The other one is in 1797).
        The name appears as Stephen Chappel on warrants for 2 tracts of land, one for 125 acres and one for 500 acres) that he enters in 1782. These are withdrawn in 1786 and he is granted another warrant for 100 acres on Reed Creek, and is granted title in 1792. Showing that he hadn’t soured on the military, or perhaps to shed his Loyalist image, he appears on a list of Captain James Finley’s Company of militia in Montgomery County in 1785. In 1789 Wythe County was formed out of Montgomery County. He twice signs petitions as a Wythe County resident, once for the establishment of a school and in 1795 he signed a petition to form Tazewell County out of a portion of Wythe County.
        In 1796 the Chappells sold their Wythe County land and moved to the community of Glade Valley in Wilkes County, North Carolina. (That portion of Wilkes County became Ashe County in 1799, and later still became Allegheny County). Although this is a different state, it is only about thirty miles, as the crow flies, from their previous home near Rural Retreat. They bought 300 acres of land “along Glade Creek and adjacent to Woodruff’s Line.” The price was 150 shillings, paid to the treasury of the state of North Carolina. On a visit to this area in 1999, I found this land to be close to the highway that runs east out of Sparta and towards Glade Valley. Woodruff’s line, still known today, was pointed out to me by the Postmaster in Glade Valley as she pointed south of the highway. The land is within two miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
        Land speculation is what probably prompted the move to North Carolina. Land was being offered by the state of North Carolina at the bargain price of 150 shillings for 100 acres. Ashe County land records show that Stephen purchased at least 2000 acres, and then subsequently sold most of it off piecemeal. Among other land speculators in this area at this time was the Col. Benjamin Cleveland, against whom he had fought at King’s Mountain. Cleveland had a well-deserved reputation for being rabidly anti-Tory. Whether or not they crossed paths at this time is not known. Stephen’s son, George, also participated in land speculation in Ashe County and acquired land that was directly on the summit of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
        When they moved to North Carolina in 1796, Stephen and Julianna already had four children. Besides the oldest son, George, there were John, born about 1784, Elizabeth, born about 1789 and Catherine, born about 1790. In 1796, shortly after their move to Glade Valley, they had twin girls, whom they named Phoeby and Dianah.74 There may have been another daughter born before the move to North Carolina, but if so, all records of her have been lost. The 1800 Ashe County census shows five females in the household under the age of sixteen.
        The stay in Glade Valley lasted about fourteen to fifteen years. During the early years there he continued to buy and sell land, and in the later years he probably farmed what he had not sold off. In 1802 he helped survey 250 acres of land on the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains for his son, George. It is likely that by now, George was married (to Elizabeth Pace). On the 1810 Ashe County census, the George Chappell household already lists 4 children. Stephen's son, John, was thought to have been married about 1810-11. He is still living in Stephen’s household at the time of the 1810 census.
        In late 1810 or early 1811, the family again moved, this time just across the border to Grayson County, Virginia. The new home was only about 6-7 miles from Glade Valley. He sold his remaining 175 acres of land in Glade Valley for 60 pounds in Oct. of 1811. He bought 143 acres of land along the New River in Grayson County for 400 dollars in Nov. 1812. This is about 6 miles east of the county seat of Independence, Virginia. While living in Grayson County both he and his son John served terms of jury duty. Personal property tax lists are available for the Grayson County years and twice other Chappell names appear. In 1812 there is a Rebecah Chappell listed alongside of Stephen and John’s names. She is listed as having no tithables (fit males over age eighteen), and as having one horse. In 1813 there is a Lisha Chappell next to those names, again with no tithables and one horse. Stephen had a sister named Lisha, and if this is she, this is the only time there is any record of Stephen having any contact with his own family. In another book where this entry was transcribed, it was written as Luke Chappell, so the original entry may have been difficult to read. In either case, though, these were probably relatives, since they were on the list next to each other.
        Two daughters are married during the Grayson County years. In 1814 Stephen is the surety on the marriage bond for Jacob Poff and Elizabeth Chappell. In the summer of 1814, one of the twins, Dianah, married Anthony Bickel. The marriage is recorded in Wythe County, where many of Anthony’s cousins lived. In 1816 Stephen Chappell and Julia Ann75 sold first, forty acres for eighty-three dollars, and in September he sold the remaining 111 acres for 350 dollars. Both Stephen and his son, John, moved to Wythe County by 1818 and 1819 respectively. In 1821 the other twin, Phoeby, married Francis Thompson. In 1822, at age seventy-two, Stephen appears as a buyer at the estate sale of Nicholas Darter on March 12. By April 10 Stephen is dead and his probate has begun. Christopher Brown, one of the appraisers of the estate is Anthony Bickel’s cousin.
        The children from this family became widely dispersed. We know that the oldest son, George, moved first to Abdingdon, Virginia, in Washington County, and then on to Clay County, Kentucky. His fourth child, a daughter, Barbara, married William Eversole. In one of those strange coincidences you run into when exploring family trees, William Eversole turns out to be my daughter’s great-great-great grandfather’s first cousin through her mother’s side. The other son, John Chappell, continued to live in Wythe County, until a move to Tazewell County, Virginia in 1826. The baptismal records for his sons are recorded in St. Johns Lutheran Church in Wytheville. In 1838 he immigrated to Livingston County, Missouri.76
        Elizabeth and Jacob Poff moved to Wilson County, Tennessee, and then later to Tippah County, Mississippi. Catherine, otherwise known as Caty, is mentioned in the will of one John Helmick in 1816. Helmick leaves all of his property to his daughter, Sophia, but extends the privilege of living on his property, on the middle fork of Reed Creek, to Catherine, “as long as she remains single and unmarried,” and to enjoy the benefits of his personal property until his daughter reaches eighteen years, with the understanding that Catherine Chappell will take good care of his daughter. In 1844 she is still living with Sophia, who is by then married to Ephraim Myrick. They have gotten into some type of financial trouble and owe one Casper Yost one hundred dollars. Yost has attached the farm land, crops and furniture pending payment. I’ve been unable to find out how the situation was resolved. Caty is the only child of Stephen and Julia who remained in the Wythe County area. Dianah’s twin, Phoeby, was Francis Thompson’s second wife. They farmed in Wythe County until 1855 when their farm was sold. Phoebe appears, years later as a widow, in Gallia County, Ohio.
        Julia Ann, or Juliana, as she appears on the church records, remains a mystery. She was born in Pennsylvania. What relationship she had with the Kinders is not known. In 1850 she is listed on the Wythe County census. She is living in the household of her daughter and son-in-law, Phoeby and Francis Thompson, and is ninety-nine years old.
        The sale of Stephen Chappell’s personal estate took place in April 1822. Buyers included his widow, who bought a teakettle, a flax wheel, a bed, a set of knives and forks, and a saddle and bridle. His son, John, bought a mattock, a plough and a chain. Anthony Bickel’s cousin, Christopher Brown was also a buyer. The sale brought in $90.93.
        To say Stephen Chappell lived an interesting life is an understatement. He seems to have struck out on his own after his father died, and never looked back. Between 1774 and 1781 his life was one adventure after another. The exact circumstances that brought him from North Carolina to Virginia after the King's Mountain Battle are unknown. Many Tory soldiers moved out of the United States after the war. Most went to Canada. It was probably friendship with the wounded Peter Kinder that was the main factor. After he married and settled down to a farmer’s life in 1781, he was active in community affairs, as shown by his interest in schools, county government, and his local militia. He bought and sold farmland several times and appeared to profit from it. He seemed to provide well for his family. He was many things during his lifetime, farmer’s son, soldier, prisoner, husband, father, farmer and I would add “ultimate survivor.”
        How much contact Stephen had with his family back in Princess Anne County isn’t documented. If the Lisha Chappell listed on the Grayson County tax records is his sister it would indicate that he did keep in touch. During the North Carolina years there also was another Chappell family living near them, and this may very well have been a relative.77 Stephen’s uncle, George Chappell, died in 1788. His older brother, Thomas, was dead by 1796, when his widow, Elizabeth, sold the communal land. This land bordered on the north side, the land that Stephen had sold in 1775. There are marriage records available for three of his siblings, John, Mary and Francis.78 Thomas’s daughter, Elizabeth, married into the Whitehurst family. This was a Quaker family. (Some relatives of this family were later killed during the Civil War in Tampa Bay, Florida, during a raid on a sanctuary for conscientious objectors to Confederacy military service.) Courthouse records in the 1780s and 1790s list several Chappell names, whose relationship to Stephen is not known.
Back                               Next