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”.