John Litteral’s War of 1812 Pension Filed By Elizabeth Rowland Litteral

I was happy to make contact with another Litteral cousin this week, David Litteral.  David is descended from John Litteral and Elizabeth Rowland through their second son Daniel as am I.  David has done extensive research on our family for years and he has graciously volunteered to share it with us.  Several years ago, he visited the National Archives and transcribed the file for a pension filed by Elizabeth (Rowland) Litteral that she filed in 1875–35 years after her husband’s death.  Sadly her claim was denied due to a question of records and almost no surviving witnesses to corroborate her sworn testimony. The reason for filing so long after her husband’s death appears to be an act of Congress from 14FEB1871. Elizabeth would die in 1878 at age 86.

The following is David Litteral’s transcription of the pension file, followed by his notes and remarks.  I have also placed a downloadable PDF here.  Thank you David for sharing such a wonderful treasure with us!

War of 1812
Widow Declaration for Pension
State of Kentucky
County of Johnson
January 15 1875
On this 15th day of January 1875 personally appearing before the Clerk
of Johnson County in and for this County and State aforesaid Elizabeth
Litteral aged eighty four years is a resident of this County of Johnson
in this State of Kentucky.  She having duly sworn according to law,
declared that she is the widow of John Litteral who served the full
period of sixty days in the military service of the United States in the
War of 1812 and who was the identical John Litteral who was drafted in
the Capt. G. W. Kemp’s Company; Col. Coonce Regiment; Gen. Taylor’s
Brigade at Lee County, State of Virginia on the xx day of September
1813. And, was honorably discharged at xxxfalls Va. on or about this xx
day of January 1814.  As well as she now remembers, these were the dates
of her said husband’s enlistment and discharge and that the above was
his officers as she now remembers.  She was married under the name of
Elizabeth Rowland to said John Litteral in the month of August 1807, but
does not remember the day, in the State of Tennessee, and does not
remember the name of the county.  She states further that she does not
know who presided over the ceremony and that there is no individual
living that was present at the said marriage.  She has no knowledge of
it and there being no legal barriers to this marriage that her said
husband died at his residence in Floyd County Kentucky on the 4th of
October 1840 and that she has not remarried since his death.   She
further swears that at no time during the late Rebellion against the
authorities of the U.S. did she or her said husband adhere to the cause
of the enemies of the Government giving them aid or comfort, or
exercised the function of any office  whatever under any authority or
pretended authority in hostility to the U.S.   She will support this
Constitution of the United States and that she is not in receipt of a
pension under any previous acts.  She makes this declaration for the
purposes of being placed on the pension rolls of the United States under
the provisions of the act approved February 14 1871.  She hereby
constitutes and appoints A.P. Cooper of Salyersville Magoffin County Ky.
her attorney to present his claim and obtain the pension certificate
that may issue therein that his post office address is Salyersville
Magoffin County Ky.
Attest:  W. E. Litteral & A. J. Ward (signed)
Elizabeth Litteral (her mark)
Affidavit in Pension Application of
Elizabeth Litteral wife of
John Litteral Dec’d
War of 1812
The affiant Hairston Litteral, a resident of the County of Johnson in
the State of Kentucky deposes and says in relation to the aforesaid
1st.  That my age is 66 years
2nd.  That I am a son of the above named Elizabeth Litteral and John
Litteral, Dec’d
3rd.  I was personally present when my Father, t he said John Litteral
died and that he died on the 4th day of October 1840 at his residence in
the in the County of Floyd in the State of Kentucky.
4th.  That my Mother Elizabeth Litteral has remained a widow ever since
the death of said Father and is now a widow. 
5th.  That as far back as my memory can run, my Father and Mother, to
wit the above named Elizabeth and John Litteral lived and cohabited
together as husband and wife up to the date of my Father’s death as
above stated.   And, that they were always so reputed and recognized by
the community in which they lived and the fact of this marriage was
never disputed nor questioned.
Hairston Litteral (signed)
Attest:  H.J. Litteral & W.E. Litteral (signed)
Sworn to and subscribed before me by Hairston Literal and I hereby
certify that the foregoing affidavit was carefully read to and fully
explained to said affiant before swearing to and signing the same and
that said affiant is personally known to me to be respectable and
entitled to credit.  I further certify that I am not interested in this
matter for a pension given under my hand and seal of said county this
15th day of January 1875.
T.S. Williams (signed) 
Also, Personally affiants W.E Litteral and A.J. Ward residence of the
County of Johnson and State of Kentucky, persons whom I certify to be
respectable and entitled to the credit, and who being by me duly sworn
say they were present and saw Elizabeth Litteral make her mark to the
foregoing declaration and that they every reason to believe from the
appearance the said claimant and their acquaintances with her that she
is the identical person she represents herself to be, and she has not
remarried since the death of her said husband, but remains his widow and
at no time during the late Rebellion against the authorities of the U.S.
did she or her said husband adhere to the cause of the enemies of the
Government or give them aid or comfort, and that they have no interest
in this claim for a pension.
W.E. Litteral & A.J. Ward (signed)
Attest:  Lindsey Litteral & R.A. Meed (signed)
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 15th day of January 1875 and I
hereby certify that the contents of the foregoing declaration and joint
affidavits were explained and fully made known to the respective parties
before swearing to and signing the same.  And, that I have no interest
direct or indirect in this matter given under my hand and seal of said
T.S.  Williams
Add Evidence in Pension Claim of
Elizabeth Litteral Widow of
John Litteral
I Edward Conley a resident of the County of Magoffin in the State of Ky.
Depose and say in relation to the aforesaid claim that my age is about
seventy years.  I further say that I was personally well acquainted with
the above named Elizabeth and John Litteral and when I first became
acquainted with them they were living together as husband and wife and
continued so to live up to the date of the said John Litteral’s death,
which was over twenty years from my first acquaintance with them to the
date of the said John Litteral’s death, which occurred in Floyd County
Ky. on or about the 4th day of October 1840.  And, I further say that I
never heard the fact of the marriage of the said Elizabeth and John
Litteral disputed or questioned, and that they were regarded as man and
wife by the community in which they lived, that they had several
children born unto them which was treated as legitimate by them and the
community.  I further say that I was personally present when the said
John Litteral died and that I have no interest in this matter.
Edward Conley (his mark)
Attest: Jilson P. Conley & Wm. Garlew (sp) 
Sworn to and subscribed before me and on the same day personally
appeared Nancy Conley a resident of the County of Magoffin in the State
of Ky. who deposes and says that she is about eighty two years of age
and was personally well acquainted with Elizabeth Litteral who is an
applicant for a Pension under the Laws of the U.S. and also with her
husband John Litteral Dec’d who died in Floyd County Ky. On or about the
4th day of October 1840 and that she had been acquainted with said
Elizabeth and John Litteral for upwards of twenty years previous to the
death of said John Litteral.  During the time I was acquainted with
them, they lived and cohabited together as man and wife and were so
reputed and recognized by the community in which they lived.  They were
also living together when the said John Litteral died.  She further says
that she saw said John Litteral after he died and before he was buried
and that she has no interest in this matter.
Nancy Conley (her mark)
Attest:  Wm. Garlew &  Isaith Conley
State of Kentucky, Magoffin County:  I,  B.F. Howard, Clerk of the
County Court in and for said county do hereby certify that the foregoing
affidavits of Edward and Nancy Conley were carefully read to and
understood by them before swearing to and signing the same, and I
further certify that said affiants personally appeared before me and
made oaths and signed said affidavits before me.  The affiants are
personally known to me to be respectable and entitled to credit.  I
further certify that I have no interest whatever in this matter given
under my hand and seal of said county this 16th day of February 1875.
B.F. Howard (signed)
August 1, 1924
Capt. Herbert H. Price
623 Allison St. N.W.
Washington D.C.
     I have to advise you that from the papers in the War of 1812
pension claim Widow Original No. 11321 it appears that John Litteral
married Elizabeth Rowland in August 1807 in Tennessee, the county not
stated.  He died at his home in Floyd County Kentucky on October 4,
     His widow Elizabeth applied for pension January 15, 1875 while
living in Johnson County, Kentucky aged eighty-four years, but the claim
was not allowed on account of insufficient service, as the record showed
that John Litteral served as a private in Lieutenant James Grahm’s
Company of Virginia Militia from September 19,1813 to October 29, 1813
and the pension laws required a service of at least sixty days.
     They had several children; the only name given is Hairston who was
aged sixty-six years in 1875.
Notes.  The above information was found on file in the National
Archives, Washington D.C.  In summary, it appears that Elizabeth in
1875, at the age of 84 (three years before her death), applied for a
pension and possibly a bounty land grant under an act approved by
Congress, 14 February 1871.  Hairston, and Wiley, her grandsons filed
affidavits in support of their grandmother’s claim.  Some of her
acquaintances, Edward and Nancy Conley (neighbors in Floyd Co) also filed affidavits.  Remember that this claim
was filed 35 years after John had died and over 60  years from when he
served.  The claim was denied as can be seen from the above letter from
Washington.  It was disputed based on the number of days John served. 
Sixty days was the requirement.  Elizabeth claimed he served from
September 1813 to January 1814.  The Government claimed he served from
September 19,1813 to October 29, 1813.  I found only one Muster Role
report in his folder and it was dated the week of 5 October 1814.  I
believe he served From September 1813 to at least October 1814 and the
Government wrongly denied the pension.
Also note that the letter denying the claim is dated August 1924, almost
fifty years after the denied claim.  Someone else must have been arguing
the case.  I wonder who?  I also noted the letter stated that John was
in Lt. Graham’s Company of the Virginia Militia.  The Muster Roll
clearly shows it was Bramham not Graham in the 41st Va. Militia.  Wonder
what the history of this Militia says?


Irish Slaves

Here is a very interesting article on the Irish slave trade that sent so many Irish families to the new world in the 17th century.  While I had heard of it, I did not realize to what extent the migration was. Many thousands of Irish families were sold as slaves to be exported to Virginia and the Caribbean.

From the article:

“During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.”

Our own common ancestor, James Luttrell  came to America via the old fashioned way, as a slave.  He went from Ireland to Barbados then eventually to Maryland.  While the article points out that we sometimes mistakenly refer to these slaves as “indentured servants” I wonder if James Luttrell was more indentured servant than slave. He must have had some way to buy his freedom rather quickly as it didn’t take long for him to go from indentured to a sea captain of a merchant ship to become established as a Virginia landholder.

The article, written by John Martin, is a very interesting read on our Irish history. Enjoy.

Elizabeth Rowland

If we can get away with calling John Litteral the father of most Litterals in Eastern Kentucky then certainly his wife Elizabeth was the family matron.

Elizabeth Rowland was born in 1786 in Lee County Virginia. She is the daughter of Michael Rowland and Elizabeth Hairston.  She married John Litteral in Virginia or Tennessee about 1807. They resided in Virginia until about 1815 when the family moved to Eastern Kentucky.

Elizabeth’s father, Michael Rowland (1755-1814) was a soldier in the American Revolution and fought at the Battle of Guiford Courthouse in North Carolina. (Michael Rowland’s DAR#:74 238). Though the British Regulars technically won the day by driving the Colonials from the field, it was only a pyrrhic victory and preceded Cornwallis’ withdrawal and eventual defeat at Yorktown.

Elizabeth’s mother is Elizabeth Hairston (1760-1810).  We can make the assumption, though a very likely assumption, that Elizabeth Rowland not only was named for her mother but that her son Hairston Litteral was also named for his grandmother.  This is not an uncommon tradition and we saw another Virginia family do the same when we listed Bayless Littrell as the son of Daniel Littrell and Abigail Bayless.

Elizabeth Rowland was one of nine children.  The family of Michael Rowland and Elizabeth Hairston are:

  1. George Rowland.
  2. Michael Rowland.
  3. Robert Rowland.
  4. William Rowland.
  5. Elizabeth Rowland. Born 1786 in Lee County, Virginia. Died 1878 in Johnson County, Kentucky. Married John Litteral abt 1807.
  6. Martha Rowland.
  7. Creed Rowland.
  8. Peter H. Rowland.  Peter was born in 1798 in Henry County, Virginia.  He married Nancy Hasten Littrell, born 1806 in Lee County, Virginia.  I do not yet know the connection of Nancy to John Littrell, who also lived in Lee County at the same time. She was not one of his siblings so perhaps she was the daughter of one of his uncles that also lived in the region.  Several websites list Nancy Littrell as a full blooded Cherokee Indian. This I doubt unless Nancy was adopted as we pretty much know the ancestry of the Littrells/Luttrells/Litterals of 18th century Virginia. Still anything is possible but I’ll remain skeptical until we find a good source for that claim.
  9. Rebecca Jane “Jincy” Rowland.  Jane was born abt 1801 and died abt 1876.  She married Ewing Littrell in 1817 in Tennessee.  Ewing is the younger brother of John Litteral.

That is at least three occurrences of Litterals and Rowlands marrying in that part of Virginia.  For more history and genealogy on the Rowlands, as well as on the Lee County area of Virginia from the 18th and early 19th centuries, please visit this website dedicated to the genealogy of Michael Rowland.  While Elizabeth is briefly only mentioned as a daughter of Michael Rowland, the website gives an excellent accounting of both her Rowland and Hairston ancestors.

As we discussed in an earlier post about her husband and the Litterals in general, John, Elizabeth and her children Newcarrius, Hairston, Daniel and George moved from Southwest Virginia to Eastern Kentucky abt 1815. John Litteral, Jr. was born to them in Kentucky in 1818.  They bought property in what was then Floyd County but was later in Johnson County when Floyd was divided in the 1840’s.

John Litteral and family appear on the 1820 Floyd County Census.  While that census only lists the heads of household by name, it does list the ages of the remaining members of the family and they do indeed fit what we know about the family. There are three males age 0-10. That would be Daniel born 1811, George born 1815 and John Jr. born 1818. There is one male age 10-16 which would be Hairston. And one male age 26-45 which would be John himself.  For the females, there is one aged 0-10. I am not sure who that would be. Perhaps there was a daughter that we do not know about or that died as a child.  I have seen some females erroneously attributed to John and Elizabeth but perhaps there was one not so incorrect. Another possibility is caring for a neighbor child which was not so uncommon an occurrence. There is a female aged 10-16 which would be Newcarrius and finally one female aged 26-45 that would be Elizabeth.

On Page 22 of the 1830 Floyd County Census, we find the John Litteral family on line 21.  Their neighbors were their son Hairston, and David Conley who we will see living near the Litterals in Oil Springs in following census records. Another neighbor is a Jacob Salyer, a farmer in his 20’s whose family only includes a wife of the same age group.  I am making another educated assumption that this is the same Jacob Salyer that married Elizabeth’s daughter Newcarrius in 1823. Their ages are correct and we will see them as neighbors to Elizabeth later on.

On the 1840 Floyd County Census, John’s entry consists only of himself as one male age 50-60, and Elizabeth listed as a female aged 40-50.  They are living next door to their son Daniel and his family.  This will be the last census including John as he passed away on October 4 of 1840.

Parts of Floyd County was divided into new counties in the 1840’s.  The Paint Lick area where John and Elizabeth settled became part of Johnson County in 1843.  In 1844 the first Johnson County tax list was created.  John Litteral had died in 1840 but apparently his land, or a portion of it anyway, passed to Elizabeth.  We see Elizabeth Litteral on the 1844 Johnson County Ky TaxList. Unfortunately we do not have any details of the property available from usgwarchives yet where I found the index.

On the 1850 Johnson County Census, which would be the first census collected after Johnson County was formed in 1843, Elizabeth Litteral, age 58 is listed as the head of household of house #282.  A notation on the census states that Elizabeth is the widow of Daniel Litteral.  I believe that this is a mistake and should note her as the widow of John Litteral.  Also living with Elizabeth in her household are William Litteral, age 18 and Milton Litteral, age 16.  I believe that there is a misspelling and “William” is “Wiley”.  Wiley and Milton were the older sons of John and Elizabeth’s second son, Daniel. Daniel’s wife, Sarah Conley, died about the same time as John Litteral did. Daniel remarried to Elizabeth Burke in 1845 and moved to another county.  It is possible that his sons would remain to help their widowed grandmother on the farm.  Wiley and Milton’s ages, as well as Elizabeth’s age makes this very probable.  The household is not far from the David Conley Farm which appears on the same page of the census.  Also not far away is the household of Elizabeth’s son-in-law, Jacob Salyer, and his wife Newcarrius Rowland.

By the 1860 Johnson County census, we find that Elizabeth is living with her son-in-law, Jacob Salyer, age 54 as head of household #790.  Included in his household are his sons Jacob, age 14 and Benjamin, age 11. Also living with Jacob is his mother-in-law, Elizabeth (Rowland) Litteral, age 70, Rowland Litteral, age 21 and a Jilson Blanton, age 18.  Rowland Litteral would probably be the son of Daniel Litteral and Sarah Conley and the younger brother of Wiley and Milton Litteral mentioned above.  Jilson Blanton is unrelated to the Litterals or Salyers, at least as I can tell thus far.  He could have been living there to help with the farm or perhaps was orphaned.  A Jackson Blanton, age 22, is living with Elizabeth’s son Hairston Litteral nearby in household #788.  Between them is David Conley again, but this one is younger than the David Conley living nearby for the last three censuses, perhaps his son.  Elizabeth’s daughter Newcarrius, Jacob Salyer’s wife, had passed away a couple months before the census was taken and of course is not listed. It is clear that Jacob’s mother-in-law continued to live in his home beyond the death of his wife.

By the time of the 1870 Johnson County Census, Elizabeth has moved to the home of her oldest son, Hairston.  She as listed as age 80 and “too old to work”.  The other members of Hairston’s household include himself, age 61, farmer, His wife Catherine Ramey, age 62, housewife, his children Lindsey, 24 and Elsie (William), 21.  Also living in his household is another family of children with the last name of Coward.  They are Catherine, 14, Lorenza, 10 and Emeline, age 3.  The final member of the household is a black child named Ben Jackson. Ben is 14 and is listed as a farm laborer and was born in Tennessee.

Elizabeth will pass away on 7 MAR 1878 and thus will appear in no more censuses.  Over nine decades of life she unfortunately had to bury her husband, three of her children and several grandchildren.  Most were taken by the Civil War which raged through the hills in that part of the state.  Elizabeth was buried in what is referred to as the Old Judge Litteral cemetery.  It is located in Oil Springs on what was once probably litteral property.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day

My grandfather, Wiley Litteral, served in the U.S. Navy from 1921-1953.  As was tradition in those days, all sailors of Irish heritage not on combat duty received the day off for Saint Patrick’s Day. As such, he always volunteered to be Irish.  Part of me wonders if he would be slightly disappointed to know just how Irish we really are, as in its not as much fun if your not getting away with something.

As descendants of John Litteral (abt1790-1840) we are also descendants of James Luttrell, often referred to now as “the immigrant”, who landed in Maryland about 1671/72 and promptly established himself in Virginia.  While we’ll discuss James further in a later postits important to know that he (which means we) came from a long line of Luttrells from what some refer to as the “Irish Branch” of the family.  Since the reign of King John, the Luttrells had been a significant part of the English Pale and the government in Ireland.  John had sent Sir Geoffrey De Lotrial as a minister to Dublin in 1204 and by 1210 A.D. he had been granted the lands of Luttrellstown, about 8 miles from Dublin then.  


It is not clear rather the Irish Luttrells descend from Sir Geoffrey’s son or brother but the Luttrells, loved or hated, were a fixture of Irish history from the middle ages until the dawn of the 19th century.  

James Luttrell, the immigrant, was the great grandson of the progeny of a second marriage, which meant the children of the first marriage inherited the castle, lands and titles.  By the time James came to America, he did it the old fashioned way: by indentured servitude.  While Luttrell’s from the wealthier, inherited branches did eventually immigrate, James’ grandchildren were already Virginia landholders by the time they did.

Being distanced from the rest of the family in Ireland wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  A contemporary, Col. Henry Luttrell (1655-1717) was assassinated in Dublin after supposedly making an enemy of the locals. Later, in 1798, Henry’s grandson, Henry Lawes Luttrell, 2nd Earl of Carhampton, served as Adjudant General of Ireland and was instrumental in putting down the Irish Rebellion of 1798.  He was so hated by the populace that a mob broke open his grandfather’s tomb and bashed the corpse’s skull.  You got to make someone pretty mad in order for them to dig up your relative that had been dead 80 years and mutilate the corpse.  

The name in America went from Luttrell to Littrell, Literal and Litteral following the American Revolution. I had always assumed it was because of illiteracy but maybe it was intentional considering what was happening with the Luttrell’s back home.

So, if you are a Litteral and find yourself celebrating in an Irish pub tonight, be sure to raise your Guiness or Whiskey at the proper toasts, wear your green socks or what have you but, depending on your company, you might want to maybe reconsider telling your name, just in case.

John Litteral, Father of Eastern Kentucky Litterals

There are several of our ancestors that stand out or serve as a focal point in the story of our family. One example would be Sir Geoffery De Lotrial that is credited with establishing the family duringthe reign of Kings Richard and John.  James Luttrell, sometimes referred to as “the immigrant” is another as he established the line of our family in the new world.  I would make the same argument for John Litteral that was the progenitor of the family in Eastern Kentucky.

John Litteral was born abt 1790 in Southwestern Virginia to Daniel Littrell and Abigail Bayless. Daniel and Abigail were married in Lee Co., Virginia.  John was the oldest of eleven children.  John’s father Daniel was born abt 1755 in Prince William County, Virginia and died 1809 in Lee County, Virginia. John’s mother Abigail was born abt 1758 in Virginia. Unfortunately that is all I know of Abigail Bayless. She has a few contemporaries that share her name and they are all sometimes confused in family trees I have seen.

Daniel Littrell and his wife Abigail are mentioned in the book Early Settlers of
Lee County, Virginia and Adjacent Counties Vol. II. by Hattie Byrd Muncy
Bales. I have not seen this book but there supposedly is a copy in the Lee County, Virginia, public library.  As of this writing, parts of it are posted under this link.  According to the book, Daniel purchased land along Indian Creek in Lee County on April 12, 1796.  He and his wife lived there until their deaths.

The children of Daniel Littrell and Abigail Bayless are:

  1. John Litteral. Born abt 1790 and died 4 OCT 1840.
  2. Samuel Litteral. Born abt 1793 and died March, 1833.
  3. William Littrell. Moved to Clairborne County, Tennessee.
  4. Daniel Littrell, Jr.. Born abt 1796 in Lee County Virginia. He married Mary Polly in Lee County, Virginia in 1817. He died 9 JAN 1862.
  5. Ewing Littrell, born abt 1798 and died 12 DEC 1857 in Wayne County, Kentucky.  He married Rebecca Jane “Jincy” Rowland in 1817 in Tennessee.  Jincy Rowland was the younger sister of Elizabeth Rowland that married Ewing’s older brother, John Litteral.
  6. Charles Litteral.
  7. Susannah Litteral. Born abt 1805, Lee County, Virginia.
  8. Polly Littrell. Also Mary Polly Littrell. Died abt 1835. Married Emmanual Sandusky.
  9. Abigail Litteral. Moved to Wayne County, Kentucky.
  10. Isaac Littrell.
  11. Bayless Littrell.  Born 2 FEB 1809 and died 23 JAN 1883 in Lee County, Virginia.  He was buried on the family property and his grave is marked. Bayless Married Polly Ann Lorton. She was born abt 1811 and died in 1878 in Lee County, Virginia.  According to the above mentioned book, Bayless acquired all of the shares of the property that had been divided among his brother at the death of Daniel. His mother Abigail continued to live with him there while most of the family moved West.

John Litteral was to have served in the War 1812 in the Virginia Militia. There is a John Littrell listed on the muster rolls of the 41st Virginia Militia.  A Corporal John Littrell also appears on the War of 1812 payroll presented by the Online Catalog Library of Virginia.  I will have to research his military records to see if it is our same John Litteral. It is unclear if his wife Elizabeth ever filed for a pension under John after he died.

John Litteral passed away on 4 OCT 1840. His wife Elizabeth would live on for another 38 years and there is no record of her ever remarrying.  John’s legacy is in his sons, Hairston, Daniel, George and John, Jr.  These men stayed in the Johnson-Magoffin region and are the ancestors to probably most, if not all, Litterals that still live in that region today.


British Battles

While researching the Battle of Guilford Courthouse from the American Revolution that will be mentioned briefly in an upcoming post about one of our ancestors, Michael Rowland, I ran across a fantastic website called

This website is dedicated to several of Great Britain’s greatest battles ranging from The Battle of Medway, which took place against the Roman invaders not long after the crucifixion, up through World War 1. Some of Britain’s most historic conflicts are highlighted on this website including the wars in America, India and the Napoleonic and Peninsular Wars.

I have always been fascinated with 18th century warfare, particularly between the British and Americans during the Revolution and against the French during the French and Indian War.  As to the former, there were several Luttrells participating on both sides as well as Luttrells serving in militia and with regulars during the French conflict almost a generation before the Revolution.  This website contains a wealth of knowledge on all participants of the greater conflicts of that time.

I am also a fan of the Sharpe Series of historical novels by Bernard Cornwell.  The books follow Richard Sharpe on his long career in the British army from India in late 18th century through the major fights of the Napoleonic wars.  Example of noteworthy battles of the fictional Mr. Sharpe include Assaye in India, Copenhagen, Trafalgar, Talavera, Barossa, Waterloo and more.  Bernard Cornwell also gives us a glimpse into the life of Medeval England during the 100 Years War in his novels involving Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt, all covered in great detail on this website.

My next post on John Litteral may be delayed as I am stuck now in The Battle of Hastings, 1066 A.D.

A Pioneer Family

We call them pioneers but probably ‘settlers’ is a better descriptive term. While they did brave harsh wilderness, it was already pioneered a couple of decades before and was relatively free of hostile savages, at least until The Civil War. Local governments, courts and churches were already established and state land grants were readily obtainable. They did not have to mark a tree to claim land or build a blockhouse for defense as Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton had done in their grandparent’s generation but let us not trivialize what early frontier life would have been during the state’s first 25 years of statehood.

John Litteral was born ca. 1790 in Virginia, probably in Lee County. Western, rural Virginia was comprised at the time of rather large counties that were being divided into smaller counties and, as with Kentucky, what county you were from or lived in was sometimes a question of the date as much as it is a question of geography. John Litteral is the son of Daniel Littrell and Abigail Bayless. According to some counts, John served as a Sergent in the 41st Virginia Militia during the War of 1812.

John Litteral married Elizabeth Rowland in about 1807. I have seen listings of their marriage in Tennessee on the internet but have yet to find the actual record of it. If anyone runs across it, please let me know. Elizabeth Rowland was born in Lee Co. Virginia in 1786. She is the daughter of Michael Rowland and Elizabeth Hairston.

In 1809, John Litteral appears on the Lee Co., Virginia tax list. By 1816, John Litteral is established enough as a property holder in Floyd Co., Kentucky to appear on their tax list (copy needed). So sometime between the end of John’s service in the War of 1812 and 1816, John and his family moved from Western Virginia to settle in an area of Floyd County, Kentucky that will later become part of Johnson County.

More than likely, the family came to Kentucky via ‘The Pound’. There were two primary routes out of Russell County, Virginia (and the surrounding region) into Kentucky. The Pound Gap, which was discovered in 1751, led North out of Virginia and into Eastern Kentucky. The more famous Cumberland Gap led Westward into the middle and Western parts of the Commonwealth. The family that settled into Kentucky abt 1816 consisted of John, Elizabeth and four children, Newcarrius, Hairston, Daniel, and George. The remaining member of the family, John Jr., will be born in Kentucky in 1818.

The 1830 Floyd County, Kentucky census has John Litteral with a household of three free white males. These are 1 aged 40-50 which would be himself. 1 aged 15-20 (George) and 1 aged 10-15 (John, Jr.). Women were not included in the census before 1850, which also began listing by name more than just the head of the household. Also as neighbors to John we have his son Hairston and a David Conley. David Conley will appear near John’s family on the censuses throughout the 19th century in Oil Springs, Kentucky. Also appearing in the 1830 Census just a few farms away is John’s second son, Daniel who is living as head of a household next to John Conley, who is probably Daniel’s father-in-law.

Sadly, John Litteral will not appear on any more censuses as he died on October 4, 1840. I have not found mention of his burial. His widow Elizabeth, who we shall discuss the next time, lived on until 1878 and is buried in what is known in Oil Springs as the “Judge Litteral Cemetery”.

Hello Litterals!

Welcome to the first post of a brand new site dedicated to the genealogy and history of all things Litteral.  There’s not much here to look at at this point but I hope to grow it in the coming months and years.

I have grand plans for it but being a Litteral, you know how that tends to work out.  I plan to begin soon with a post about the pioneer family of Litterals that first settled Eastern Kentucky at the dawning of the 19th century. I would like to add links for family genealogy as well as expand into a history of the surrounding area that is still home to descendants of the original family today. Finally it is important to note the rich history of the family as Luttrells in early America and back through the centuries in Ireland, England and Europe.

The artwork on the top of the main page is from the Luttrell Psalter, an illuminated book from Medeval England that has been invaluable at giving the world a glimpse of the 14th century.  Our Litteral ancestors that were farmers in Kentucky 400 years later probably did very little different than those farmers depicted in the scene, perhaps save for mules instead of fat oxen.

Please check back often.