The Unusual Timing of the Events Following the Death of John Reynolds in 1795

           On 14 April 1795, the Green County court granted administration of the estate of John Reynolds, deceased, to Will Casey and, on the same day, the court ordered Owen McCaffrie, John Montgomery, Nathan Montgomery and John Harvie to appraise the same estate. On 24 October 1802, over seven years after the administration was granted, the estate of John Reynolds seems to have been sold. The sale record notes that William Casey was the administrator and that the appraisers were John Harvey, William McAfee and Robert Fletcher. Buyers at the sale were Simon McCafferty, Isaac Butler, James Young, Hugh Douglas, Phillip Wise, William Casey and others. Simon was listed first and purchased "sundry articles" for about eleven shillings. The items purchased by all other named buyers was followed by "and others". So it looks like Simon was given his choice of the items in the inventory, a common courtesy afforded to relatives in estate sales. This is the last record for Simon McCaf* Jr. in Kentucky that we have found. What is extremely odd is that William Casey did not submit the sale record to the county recorder until January Court 1811, about nine years after the sale occurred and about sixteen years after the administration of the John Reynolds estate was initiated. The record is odd in that it references the suit of Nathan Mongomery, plaintiff against Will. Casey, administrator of Reynolds*. Casey submitted estate  inventory and sales record and the principle of $43.37 to Nathan Montgomery who acknowledged receipt of same. William Casey died 1 December 1816. It seems that the sale was delayed until some event occurred. We have not found any record of John Reynolds's  wife or children; however, the death of his wife or a child reaching the age of majority might be a reason for the delay. The extremely long delay in recording the estate sale seems almost impossible and we have found no explanation for this situation. Additionally, we have have not found any record of John Reynolds as a landowner. Much has been written about the esteemed William Casey who seems to be at the center of these events; however, we cannot find an account that confirms all these facts and offers an explanation.  Casey submitted the estate record to the Green County court long after the area where he lived became Adair County in 1802. It was even after Casey County, which was named in honor of William, became a county in 1807. This might be a worthwhile project for an interested historian.
            *On 22 May 1801, Nathan Montgomery sued William Casey, administrator of Reynolds, dec'd. Nathan Montgomery was one of the people ordered to appraise the estate of John Reynolds in 1795. He was also one of the buyers in John Reynolds's estate sale in October 1802. The case was continued several times until settled by a jury trial recorded on 18 Mar 1802. The jury concluded that "said Reynolds in his lifetime hath not performed his covenant in the declaration specified but hath broken the same in a manner and form as the plaintiff against him hath declared". The jury assessed damages of 47 pounds and seven shillings to be paid by the estate administrator, who was William Casey. Neither the covenant or the declaration are recorded or explained, so it is unclear what had happened between Reynolds and Montgomery, although it is clear that Montgomery waited about seven years to file his suit. It did not seem to stop Simon McCaffree or Montgomery from buying items at the estate sale in October of that year. This event fits well with our suggested explanation below of the first delay; however, it is unclear if it had anything to do with the long delay in recording the inventory and sale record.

            In 1844, a Zachariah Holladay participated in an interview with Lyman C. Draper, the famous historian and creator of the prodigious Draper Manuscript Collection. Holladay alleged that John Reynolds had been murdered by the Indian Chief Doublehead near Casey's Fort. We have not been able to find the original Draper manuscript, but have found a transcription. Holladay's assertions were made some 50 years after the death of John Reynolds and they contain some very interesting details. He alleged that a fine horse, a rifle, 20 pounds of lead, 10 pounds of powder & about 500 dollars were taken from Reynolds by Doublehead. How & why did Holladay known these details? 500 dollars was a small fortune in 1795. Except for the estate administration court order, we can find no confirming sources for these assertions. Did Holladay just invent this story? If this is a fairly accurate description of the event, it may be connected to the Indian spying story related below. There were many Native Americans named Doublehead and numerous legends involving them. There has always been a tendency to blame Native Americans for any atrocity, whether true or not. They were convenient scapegoats. Prejudice runs very deep and lasts very long. Like most legends, there is probably some truth in this story, but what is it?    

             *In 1793, William Casey caused to be opened and taught the first school ever taught within the bounds of Adair County. At least it was the first school of which there is any record or tradition. He employed Arthur Hopkins for the period of one year in Casey's and Butler's Stations and in Casey's Station on Butler's Fork. For this service Casey agreed to pay Hopkins the sum of fourteen pounds and Isaac Butler, John Reynolds, Francis Pelham, John Harvey, Henry Rennick and William Butler jointly agreed to pay him ten pounds. When the year's teaching had been finished, Isaac Butler, William Butler, Reynolds, Pelham, Harvey and Rennick paid to the teacher the ten pounds, which they had promised him, by giving to him orders upon Casey for the amounts due them for their services as spies upon the Indians. Casey was then the commander of the militia in the county. Casey discharged the twenty-four pounds due Hopkins by conveying land to him. The lands, which were conveyed by Casey to Hopkins, were afterwards levied upon and sold to satisfy an execution in favor of one Settles, which was issued upon a judgment recovered in the Quarter Sessions Court of Green County in favor of Settles against Hopkins.*
            *The information above was compiled and published by Mike Watson, Adair County Historian. Since Adair was formed from Green in 1802, we assume the events described occurred in Green. We have condensed Mr. Watson's account slightly. The point we make is that, if the Zachariah Holladay story above is basically true, then John Reynolds seems to have been a paid spy and this may be the reason he was in possession of the items alleged and the reason Reynolds was robbed and killed in 1795; however, other details can be derived from the account. We note that Reynolds seems to have been more than a little interested in education and his home may be were some of the McCaffree family lived and acquired literacy. This is virtually all we know about the life of John Reynolds.           

A Suggested Scenario that Fits Most of the Facts of the 1st Delay

            The following is mainly conjecture, but it is based on many facts. It is our story that attempts to explain the events that occurred in Kentucy in the late 1700s. Virtually all of these facts are detailed in the "William McCaffrey of Loudoun County, Virginia and Fayette & Scott Counties, Kentucky" section of the McCaffrey Family Roots home page.
            There must have been some reason the Owen and Simon McCaffrey/McCaffree participated in the events that followed the death of John Reynolds. We suggest that reason was because John Reynolds and his likely wife probably assisted in raising the orphans of Simon McCaffrey Jr. It follows that this possibility arose because of two seemingly equally inableing scenarios. The first secenario that John may have married the widow of Simon McCaffrey, the assumed father of the Green County McCaf* orphans. The second scenario  is that John was the husband of an unrecorded sister of Owen McCaffree. Because there does not seem to be any record that even suggests that John was married, neither of these possibilities can be proven; however, one of them is probably the reason that Owen and Simon Jr. were involved the the John Reynolds estate settlement and the reason that Owen bought property in Green not long after the recorded 1793 death of his father, William McCaffrey Sr., in Clark County, Kentucky. On 31 October, 1793, Owen paid William Roberts of Shelby County, Kentucky 75 pounds for 380 acres on Butler's Fork of Russell's Creek. We suggest, without proof, that the funds that Owen used for his Green County land purchase came from an unfound official or unofficial estate settlement between Owen and Margaret McCaffree, the widow of William McCaffrey. We also suggest that of their agreement was that Owen promised Margaret that he would use these funds to provide a home for the orphans of his brother, Simon McCaffree Sr, who was killed not long before the death of their father, William McCaffrey Sr. We further suggest that Owen purchased the Robert's property in Green because John Reynolds was living on this land and that some or all of the McCaffree orphans were living with him. On 11 March 1794, Owen sold Simon Jr. 100 acres of his newly acquired land, even though Simon Jr. was probably not yet 21. Such a sale to a minor was unusual, in no way illegal. Land ownership by minors usually occurred by the minors inheritance, but not always. This parcel probably contained the home where John Reynolds and the McCaffree orphans lived. In 1795, John Reynolds died and Owen was ordered to help appraise his estate. This order surely implies that Owen had some sort of relationship with John. The 1802 record of the sale of the John Reynolds estate strongly implies that Simon McCaffree Jr. was a relative or had a close relationship with the deceased. Simon resold his 100 acres to William Casey on 1 April 1797, perhaps with the proviso that any remaining orphans could remain for a few years. On 15 July 1800, Rebecca McCaffree married Peter Dillingham in Green. Polly McCaffree had already married William Butler in 1795. In 1805, both James and William McCaf* were first taxed in Green; however, they were both likely several years older than this taxation implies. Simon McCaffree Jr. was surely older than James or William. We suggest that one or more of these events that triggered the John Reynolds estate sale in 1802.
            We note that neither Owen or Simon McCaffree were enumerated in the 1796 Green tax records. Green County deed records show that Simon Jr. owed 100 acres and Owen owed about 133 acres at this time; however, Simon Jr. probably was not 21, therefore not taxable. We also note that in 1796, a John Butler was enumerated the Green County tax lists with 100 acres on Russell's Creek. In this alphabetically arranged record, Wm Butler was also listed with no land. William Butler was married Polly McCaffree at this time and John Butler had provided part of the bond. The bond also states that Owen McCaffree provided consent as Polly's guardian. We think that John Butler probably paid the tax due on the Simon McCaffree land; however, we cannot find a similar taxpayer for the Owen McCaffree land. Owen McCaffree was the grandson of a tailor and we do not think he ever engaged in farming and did not need or want farm land. His brother Simon Sr. was killed while guiding settlers to Kentucky and we suggest that Owen was also a guide and likely a scout/spy.
            We do not know why William Casey delayed some nine years before reporting the inventory and sale of the John Randolph estate; however it seems to be related to a suit filed by Nathan Montgomery. It is possible this event had something to do with Owen and/or Simon McCaffrey Jr. Owen and Simon Jr. seem to have been recorded in the 1807 Randolph County, Indiana Territory census. This is the last record we have found concerning either man.
            The sixteen year saga of the John Reynolds estate settlement is a very interesting story on its own; however, our primary interest is in finding and using additional facts to expand our knowledge of Owen and Simon McCaffree.


 atDNA Matches

            We have posited that Mary DeHart was the daughter of Simon DeHart of Berks County, Pennsylvania. If this is correct, Simon was my 6th great grandfather. Even if Mary was the daughter of one of Simons brothers or a very near cousin, my closest relationship would be a 6th or 7th cousin. claims that their matching process achieves an 11% chance of detecting a 6th cousin relationship and a 3.2% chance of detecting a 7th cousin match. FTDNA claims a much lower (relastic, in my opinion) success rate with 6th cousins being less than 2%.  Records show that some of the Berks County, Pennsylvania DeHarts had moved to the western area of Virginia by the the 1750s. They married into the families of many of my other Virginia ancestors, so this makes proving the source of my atDNA matches very difficult or impossible. I have many cases of six or more pairs of Common Ancestors (CA) in this region and one case of ten pairs of Common Ancestors; however, the atDNA protocol used by FTDNA and especially, results in a situation that makes proving the identity of a distant Common Ancestor atDNA match a virtual impossibility. The overwhelming majority of people that try to analyze their Common Ancestor atDNA matches do not understand this situation. Their atDNA match usually only proves that they are related to their match, but that is usually all that is proven. In the the case of modest atDNA match segments (say, 200 cM or more), some experts in atDNA analysis are qualified to use atDNA to attempt to prove a specific relationship; however, their analysis usually requires the atDNA results of several/many living members. Since does not provide the actual chromosome location of an atDNA match, it is virtually impossible for anyone to prove the identity of a Common Ancestor utilizing a small atDNA match segment. I have a very small probability of have any atDNA match with any Dehart. To reduce the probability of multiple Common Ancestors, I have searched for atDNA matches with alleged descendants of DeHarts that did not move to Virginia. I have found several very small atDNA matches with such people. Since I have attempted to reduced the probability of multiple Common Ancestors, these matches increase the probability that my match and I share a tiny bit of Dehart atDNA, but all that is really proved is that my match and I are related. These matches do not prove that our common atDNA was from a DeHart. The match can only be used as a bit of circumstantial evidence to add to all the other evidence accumulated. If, in the future, the exact locations of atDNA matches are revealed by DNA testing companies, this technology can be used to prove ancient relationships, but ever increasing privacy issues make this possibility very remote. In my opinion, patient digging in the increasing available records base is, by far, the most likely way tto add more knowledge to the above narrative.

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Created 11 Jan 2021
Revised 3 Feb 2022

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