Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Edward West (b. 1757; d. 23 Aug 1827)

Edward West (b. 1757;  d. 23 Aug 1827)

Compiled by Joy Ikelman, 2013. Disclaimers apply.

Edward West, is descended from John West (d. 1744) of Stafford County, Virginia, and therefore is a part of Family Group #5:

John West (d. 1744) m. Dorothy ________
Edward West (b. ca. 1730s; d. ca. 1791) m. Elizabeth Mills
                        Edward West (b.1757;  d. 23 Aug 1827) m. Sarah Brown (b. 1756; d. 7 Feb 1824)

This Edward West is often referred to as Edward West, Jr. He lived geographically close to his father in Virginia and also in Kentucky. He was also called “Ned.” There is an abundance of biographical information about West, as he was a highly regarded silversmith and inventor. This summary only touches on a few highlights of his life. Family researchers are invited to dig deep into land and other legal records for a better look at this ancestor.


Summary. Edward West married Sarah Brown or Browne (b. 1756; d. 7 Feb 1824). Sarah was the daughter of Samuel Brown(e) and Maria Creed. [1] They had twelve children (listed below). Edward and Sarah were originally buried on the grounds of the West home on High Street and Mill Street in Lexington, Kentucky. Then they were moved to the Presbyterian Cemetery. [2] In 1899, this cemetery was closed, and graves were moved to Lexington Cemetery. [3] The notice in the Kentucky Reporter : “Died – Last Week, Mr. Edward West, an old highly respectable citizen.” [4]

Edward West’s Migrates from Virginia to Kentucky. Edward West was most likely born in Stafford County, Virginia, home to his father and grandfather. Although some references say he came to Lexington from Fredericksburg, West’s son, John B. West wrote, “About the year 1785 or 1786 my father came from Falmouth, Virginia, to this place. He was 70 years old when he died. Mr. David A. Sayers administered on his estate, but I know not what became of his papers.” [5] Falmouth is in Stafford County, about 2 miles from Fredericksburg, on the north bank of the Rappahannock River.

Edward West, Sr. (his father) came to the area of Georgetown, Woodford County, Kentucky one year before, in 1784. [6] Georgetown and Lexington are about 15 miles apart. Both Edward Wests appeared in the Stafford County, Virginia, census of 1785 after they came to Kentucky. [7] The explanation may be that the census was published in 1785 (but compiled earlier), or that the census was based on land records, therefore “heads of families” as the whole title suggests.

The Stafford County, Virginia, census shows a “West, Edward” with 9 white souls, 1 dwelling, and 3 other dwellings. Three names down is “West, Edward, Junr” with 4 white souls and 1 dwelling. This would be Edward and Sarah, and possibly their first two children.
Bridwell [8] lists a land grant in 1783 in Fayette County, Kentucky assigned to Edward West. Other land grants include those in Lincoln and Bourbon counties. Bridwell has a seven land grants listed, with a total of 6,728 acres. I have not yet been able to prove this is his and not his father’s, or a combination of these men.

On 9 Aug 1788, the Kentucky Gazette announced, “Edward West, clock and watchmaker, opening a shop on High Street, Lexington” and on 13 Nov 1790, West was advertising for an apprentice “to the gun and silver smith’s business.” [9] Long time friend Samuel McCullough said West could “make a rifle or a gun, or he could mend one; within my recollection he could make or mend anything.” [10]

Edward West’s Inventions. In his spare time, West worked on mechanical inventions of many kinds. He finally applied for patents from 1800 to 1803, but the documentation papers “were burned by the British in our last war with England.” [11] These patents were for metal amulets, a machine for heading and cutting nails, a gun lock, steam boat, and distillation by steam in wooden or other stills. [12]

The distilling patent was taken out by Edward West, Dr. Samuel Brown, and Thomas West. Since the process could be used in distilling whiskey, “distillers using steam were warned in October, 1811, not to infringe on the patent right” of the owners. [13] Dr. Samuel Brown was a medical doctor, and a dear friend to West. Thomas West, also from Lexington, is possibly a brother to Edward West, Jr. However, there was another Thomas West in the area, living in Paris, Kentucky and running a tavern [14] that might have been the Thomas in the patent . He appears to be descended from an unrelated West family (from Maryland). Future DNA results may change this assumption.

Of the many inventions, the one that generated the most press was West’s steam-powered boat (1793). “With top hats bobbing up and down on the banks of the tiny town fork of the south Elkhorn Creek, the local dignitaries congregated to see Mr. West show off his boat.” [15] West made a prototype that worked quite well, but could not find financial backing to carry the invention to the next step. Much has been written about this invention in Kentucky history books. His most useful invention was “a machine which simplified the process of making nails.” By the end of the 18th Century, Lexington merchants were “selling cut nails to carpenters who were building the important frontier cities of Pittsburg, Louisville, and Cincinnati.” [16] He was paid $10,000 for this invention. “Other inventions for which West was given credit are a pistol, a wire-bound cannon, a hemp breaking machine, and a machine for cutting or pressing molding on tin gutter pipe.” [17]

Records from Fayette County. There are, most likely, court records to be discovered for Edward West, including several for land. Apparently, Fayette County Order Book “A” (page 19) directed Edward West to make the first Fayette County seal. District Court Book “B” (page 465) showed that Edward and Sarah West conveyed land for the German Lutheran Church (now a Methodist Church). Also, Edward West is listed in the 1820 United States Federal Census with 4 free white males, 2 free white females, and 5 slaves. One person (Edward) is “engaged in manufacturing.”

The Will and Inventory. Edward West had a Will, which I have not located yet. Inventory of his estate, filed November 27, 1827 includes personal items plus tools of his trade: lathes, shears, anvils, grindstone, bellows, hammers, and tongs. [18] In 1839, heirs of Edward West announced the sale of real estate: “Said property lies on Mill street, between Water and High streets; and has four good substantial buildings on it; two of them on Water street immediately opposite the head of the Rail Road, and well calculated for business houses; one on High street, a large and commodious family residence.” [19] His land was probably divided among his heirs.

Children of Edward and Sarah West

Edward and Sarah West had twelve children. This is a very brief synopsis. More information is available on-line. [20]
1. Jane West, m. 25 Aug 1806, Joseph Woods. No children. Moved to Nashville. Last residing place of William Edward West, her brother.

2. John Brown West (b. 1786) m. 30 Jul 1812, Jane C. Murdock. Children. Moved to Nashville. [21]

3. William Edward West (b. 10 Dec 1788; unmarried; d. 2 Nov 1857 in Nashville). He was an acclaimed artist.

4. Catherine West (d. before 1818) m. 11 Jul 1809, Dr. Arthur Campbell. At least three children: William, Norvell, Edward.

5. Maria Creed West, m. 4 Oct 1810, Samuel Price; child Samuella Price. Samuel married

6. Edward West, d. at age 19.

7. Thomas Lewis West (b. 1796?; d. 14 Apr 1806, age 10)

8. Sarah “Sallie” Brown West, m. May 1818, Robert Woods. Moved to Nashville. Six children: Josephine, James, Jane, Robert, Joseph, Julia.

9. Hannah Retta West (b. 29 Jul 1795; d. 10 Nov 1856), m. 1 Mar 1814 in Nashville, Moses Norvell (1786-1853). Eight children:  Emmeline, Henry, Aduella, Joseph, Alexander, Ellen, Martha, Imogene.

10. Eliza Mills West (b. 4 Jan 1800; d. 10 June 1833, Lexington); m. 15 Nov 1818, Simon Bradford (b. 6 Sep 1797; d. 6 Feb 1865 in Memphis).  Eight children: Eleanor, Joseph, Sarah, Edward, Franklin, Cleora, Charles, Eliza. Simon Bradford married again. [22] Note: This is the second instance that a FG#5 individual has married a descendent of the Bradfords of Fauquier County, VA. The other is Leonard West who married Phoebe Morgan (Bradford descendent) circa 1798 in Sumner County, Tennessee. [23]

11. Benjamin Franklin West, unmarried.

12. Patterson Bain West, unmarried.

(Photographed) Portraits by William Edward West, their Son

Edward West, Jr. at:

Sara Brown(e) West at:


1. Bridwell, Margaret M., 1947: “Edward West: Silversmith and Inventor.” Filson Club History Quarterly, Vol. 21, p. 301-308. Bridwell’s is the most-quoted of the published works; unfortunately, some errors of previous researchers were continued in her manuscript. The most important error relating to our Family Group #5 DNA results was her reference to Reverend William West. His ancestors, a different John West of Stafford County, are in a different DNA Family Group. In 1960, Mabel Van Dyke Baer attempted to correct the misunderstanding in her article, “The Ancestry of Edward West of Lexington, Kentucky, 1757-1827,” The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society; Vol. 58, No. 4, p. 354-363.

2. Ibid, p. 307.

3. Edward West [1757-1827] Find-a Grave.

4. Kentucky Reporter, September 1, 1827. Provided by: McGuire, Marilyn, 2002: “Re: Edward West of Fayette Co.,” GenForum. (Notes from Kentucky Gazette and Kentucky Reporter). His son’s grave marker in Nashville also has a historical marker describing Edward West, Jr.:

5. McCullough, Samuel D., 1859: “Interesting Reminiscences of an Early Experiment in Steam Navigation.” The Scientific American, Vol. 1, No. 1, New York, p. 4. Letter from John B. West.

6. Gano, S.F., “History of Georgetown,” in William Henry Perrin, ed., 1882, History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison, and Nicholas Counties. Chapter VII, p. 180. Also reprinted in B.O. Gaines, History of Scott County, Vol. 2, 1898 and 1905. Available through Kentucky Digital Library,

7. U.S. Census Bureau, First Census of the United States; Heads of Families – Virginia, 1783-1786. Stafford County begins on page 107 and contains approximately 450 names; the header gives the date of 1785.

8. Bridwell, p. 301. Her source for this information was Jillson, Willard Rouse, 1925: The Kentucky Land Grants: A Systematic Index to All of the Land Grants Recorded in the State Land Office at Frankfort, Kentucky, 1782–1924. Louisville, KY.

9. Back issues of the Kentucky Gazette can be accessed at the Kentucky Digital Library:  - The issues are searchable.

10. Klotter, James C., 2012: Bluegrass Renaissance: The History and Culture of Central Kentucky, 1792-1852. University Press of Kentucky, p. 241.

11. McCullough, p. 4. Letter from John B. West.

12. Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents. “Patents for Edward West.”

13. Cottingham, Wayne, 1917: “Distilleries Once Rated Among Bourbon Industries,” Kentuckian-Citizen, Paris, Kentucky. Reprinted in 1957.

14. Ibid (Web page, above). The article says “Thomas West who had a part, perhaps a financial interest, in the distilling patent had moved to Paris, Kentucky, before 1788 where he conducted a tavern opposite the courthouse. Serving Bourbon to his customers and chatting with the makers had convinced him, no doubt, of the usefulness of the invention.” The article is referring to Thomas West (1756-1820) who was a son of John West, Jr. and Rachel Perry of Montgomery County, Maryland.

15. Clark, Thomas D., 1942: The Kentucky. Henry Holt and Company. University Press of Kentucky, reprint of 1992, p. 157-158.

16. Ibid, p. 156.

17. Bridwell, p. 305.

18. Ibid, p. 303. Bridwell listed the estate items, therefore a Will might be available in Fayette County records.

19. Kentucky Gazette, August 22, 1839.

20. References include Bridwell, p. 307;  McGuire; Find a Grave; Thomas, Jane Henry, and Leona Taylor Aiken, 1897: Old Days in Nashville, Tenn: Reminiscences. Publishing House, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Nashville, Tennessee; and many more names located with Google searches.

21. Hiden, Mrs. Philip Wallace, 1945: “The Bradford Family of Faquier County, Virginia.” Taylor’s Quarterly, Vol. 27, p. 200. The year of John B. West’s birth was found here.

22. Ibid. A portrait of Simon Bradford, by artist William Edward West (Bradford’s brother-in-law) is found on page 202.

23. Research of Joy Ikelman, September, 2013. 

1 comment:

  1. 31 Oct 2013. UPDATE to Thomas West comment and Reference #14, "However, there was another Thomas West in the area, living in Paris, Kentucky and running a tavern [14] that might have been the Thomas in the patent . He appears to be descended from an unrelated West family (from Maryland). Future DNA results may change this assumption."

    The West Family DNA Project places him in Family Group #13, descended from Joseph P. West, 1662, Maryland. See

    The question still remains: Is this Thomas West (of the distilling patent) Edward West's brother? (FG#5). Or, is this Thomas West, son of John West and Rachel Perry, who was living in Paris, KY at the time? (FG#13)