Monday, October 6, 2014

The 1876 Journal of Rev. James W. Crewdson

Ben West submitted a photocopy of a page in the 1876 journal of Rev. Crewdson stating that Agness West was the daughter of Amos West. The page was posted on Nov. 18, 2002 by Ben in the "West, Fike & Affiliate Families."  Three years later, Ben started an interesting discussion that is posted in this blog.  The discussion is very interesting to read!  JGW

Amos West: The Merchant in New York

This page was copied from the 1876 journal of the Rev. James W. Crewdson, a descendant of Agness (West) Milliken (1762-1848). In this journal, Rev. Crewdson records that the father of Agness West was named Amos West. I myself have located no evidence in public records to confirm that the name of Agness West's father was Amos sadly. To expound, Agness West's brother Leonard stated that he was born in Granville County, North Carolina in 1760, and I have never located evidence of an Amos West who resided in that county or in neighboring counties in that year.


Ben West Dec 28, 05
Dear researchers,

We have all talked very little about this finding, the excerpt from the journal of the Rev. James W. Crewdson, the grandson of Agness (West) Milliken. Sometime before 1876, when he wrote this excerpt of West family history for his journal, James Crewdson received information from his brother William N. Crewdson regarding William's findings from old family records. The story mentioned in this journal entry presumably came from these records. James Crewdson also spent time with his grandmother Agness (West) Milliken (1762-1848) when he was a boy, from whom he may have learned some family information.

I have transcribed several pages from this journal, which I hope to post sometime in the near future. They contain many family stories about the Millikens who are descended from Agness (West) Milliken and Amos West (Ca. 1766-1819). The journal entry scanned above is remarkably similar to the story submitted by James Crewdson's brother for inclusion in Gideon T. Ridlon's Milliken family history book. However, William Crewdson's story states that the grandmother of Agness (West) Milliken was in New York, not her mother. How can two brothers tell such a remarkably different story? Which one of them is right?

In the scanned journal entry above, James Crewdson writes: "(Mother's Father) married Agnes West. This Agnes West. My Mother's Mother, was a daughter of Amos West, who when a young man was a merchant, and bought his goods in New York."

In my opinion, formed only from a cursory glance at other information on the Crewdson family that has been uncovered, the Crewdson journal contains some inaccurate and exaggerated information. From where did James Crewdson receive his information that Agness (West's) father was named Amos West? From his brother, the one who submitted a different story for Ridlon's book? From some other source? Strangely enough, James Crewdson states that his family came from LOUISA COUNTY, VIRGINIA on another page. Could the West ties to Louisa County, Virginia be a distortion inserted from Crewdson family history?

I still believe that Richard West is the most probable father of Agness (West) Milliken. However, if I had to pick a second theory, I might suggest something like the following. A young merchant named Amos West of North Carolina, either a much younger brother or an older son of Thomas West, Sr. of Granville County, North Carolina, traveled to New York on business, met a woman there and had three children:  Leonard, Agness, and Amos West, who may have been born in North Carolina. The older Amos West and his wife died, and a Miss Lucy Fike or a Mrs. Lucy (West) Fike presumably related somehow to the Thomas West, Sr. family adopted these three children to rear.

I feel like my Richard West theory is much more probable. The only reason I that I posted this seldom mentioned second theory comes in light of a question that I have been meaning to ask John and others for years but that I just keep forgetting to ask. Were there other men roaming around the Granville County, North Carolina area that you believe are related to Thomas West, Sr. who were not enumerated on tax lists? Do you think that there were several men who were lost to history whose names simply did not appear in public records, and if so, could this older Amos West have existed? I have long been bothered by the very marked differences in the names of Leonard, Agness, and Amos West as compared to the other proven and probable descendants of Thomas West, Sr. Other names are repeated, even Ignatius, but the only time that the name Leonard appears among the more probable descendants of Richard West (and also probable descendants of Thomas) is in the name of James Leonard West, youngest son of James (1772-1844) and Mourning (Howard) West. Of course, Leonard, Agness, and Amos could have been named for family members of a possible first wife of Richard West, and this could account for the naming difference.

Best regards,

John West Dec 29, 05 
Ben, the "mother/grandmother" differences in the stories could have happened by typo omission by the typist for Ridlon's Milliken History. Mistakes like this happen often and is why family tradition can not be a reliable source - only possible clues!

Your last paragraph, you wonder if other West men related to Thomas West, Sr. were in the Granville County area. The answer to that is: yes! There are records for them in neighboring counties, as well as, in Granville, Orange, & Chatham County. I do not think there has been any real research done on locating the records of these men.
Joy Ikelman Dec 29, 05
Ben wrote:
However, William Crewdson's story states that the grandmother of Agness (West) Milliken was in New York, not her mother. How can two brothers tell such a remarkably different story? Which one of them is right?

I vote for grandmother. And possibly New York might be a mistake for York, Virginia (really close to Williamsburg). The Ridlon version doesn't mention "New York" does it?

I also vote for Louisa County (still, after all these years). And that both parents died. But of course you know that I hold on to that belief. So, apparantly, I digress.

And finally, I think we may be in error to try to trace all these good ancestral folk directly and specifically to Thomas West, Sr in the geographic region of NC. I'll betcha he had a bunch o' brothers AND other relations. Thomas West (the elder, Sr.) may even be a second-generation American.

I believe we are taking this male line back to arrival in the mid to late 1600s. It could be brothers, uncles, etc. coming to America where they could get a new start. And maybe in the 1700s the various West uncles/brothers/sons scattered to various parts of VA, then NC.

DNA! We need more DNA!

The names Amos and Leonard are definitely suspect in their oddity, and in Farley's they have bracketed dates where the other children of Richard West do not. Including Angus (aka Agness). Why?

I surmise that "Leonard" and "Amos" (names) may be coming from a maternal line.

I look forward to reading other parts of the journal. I believe that we have all learned that such written or oral history has exaggerations or misplaced names. Things get confused or altered over the years. But the stories are still so interesting and often contain a bit of truth.

John West Dec 29, 05 
Joy, although I do not have any type of proof or even tradition to go by, I have always felt that Thomas West, Sr. was born in America and I felt like he was at least a second generation American if not a third or fourth. I suspect that this line of West came in the 1600's to America. This is mere speculation, guessing or better - just a feeling that it may be true. I agree that Thomas West, Sr. is not the common progenitor of all of these West families. I think if we can get back one, two or even three generations and follow that back down - we will be able to put most of these VA/NC West families together. That is why I keep digging & prodding others on to find the next generation and more!

Ben West Dec 30, 05

Thanks for your response, but I asked my question in a different sense. I wanted to know if there were other West men in the Granville County area around 1760 whose names were not documented in public records, like tax lists. I know that there were other West men whose names also appear in public records like John West and his sons Isaac and James West on the Granville County tax lists. I just wanted your insight as to whether there could have been an older Amos West or other men like him whose names simply did not make it into the historical record.

Here is another question: Where would or could a traveling merchant like this supposed Amos West be taxed? I know very little about colonial history, but I assume, as a merchant, that he might have had some sort of a mercantile "home base." I know very little about the details of colonial history as it pertains to public records.

I have not searched for other related West men in any North Carolina counties surrounding Granville, Chatham, and Orange Counties. However, I did make note in my North Carolina research of most every West that I encountered in Granville, Orange, and Chatham Counties. Here are some names found in records that I did not document (several John Wests, and Alexander West, a Solomon West, and maybe and Issac West? of Orange County, North Carolina and a Jesse West and a few other younger Wests whom I assumed to be related to Thomas West, Jr. of Chatham County, North Carolina). Perhaps for my research to be comprehensive in the fullest sense, I should have made note of these men. I, however, assumed from various GenForum postings that these Orange County men were part of a different family of Wests and that the Jesse West was related to Thomas West, Jr. based upon your family history web site. Definitely other counties like Bute and Warren should be checked for other West men who are possibly related to ours. There are, if I recall a few William Wests in nearby Edgecombe County, and there is also one in nearby Franklin County.


Joy Ikelman Dec 30, 05
Ben wrote:
Here is another question: Where would or could a traveling merchant like this supposed Amos West be taxed? I know very little about colonial history, but I assume, as a merchant, that he might have had some sort of a mercantile "home base."

I believe the story refers to the grandparents of Agness. Thus the date would be perhaps in the early 1700s or maybe even a little earlier, into the late 1600s.

If it is a person buying goods in southeastern Virginia or northeastern NC in colonial times, it would likely be Williamsburg or maybe Norfolk, VA. That's why I think if there is a York involved, it is York, VA. Even though it was historically a fairly small town, I'm sure it had at least one tavern, perhaps with boarding! (i.e. the hotel)

To the north, a merchant might go to the port of Baltimore; further north, Boston and maybe New York. But this would be a long way to travel for goods.

I doubt the "New York" reference. As for the timing, the Dutch ceded New York to the English in 1667, and I think that's when New Amsterdam was renamed New York, after James, Duke of York. It became a royal colony in 1685. So, with regard to generations and dating the event of a merchant going to New York, it could be possible, if said merchant lived in close proximity to New York.

There were Wests who settled in Pennsylvania who might conceivably had roots in New York or New Amsterdam, and might actually travel to New York for goods, but they aren't in our DNA Group, as far as I know.
Hal Beumer Dec 31, 05

There was extensive trade up and down the coast from Halifax down to the Carolinas in the late 1600's early 1700's. I have lateral family members (Northey) who sailed from Salem MA down to Pasquotank, NC on a regular basis back in the early 1700's and eventually settled there before 1716. There are a number of New England families who have disappearing relatives who settled in the South. A merchant from New York could easily have been from New England. Please note the the Wests "Matthew, William et. al" were in the Tobacco Trading business so there might be a connection here. There was major trade in Tobacco with Europe. In 1760, Pierre Lorillard establishes a "manufactory" in New York City for processing pipe tobacco, cigars, and snuff. P. Lorillard is the oldest tobacco company in the US. There was in fact an Amos West from Rehoboth, MA b abt 1748 son and grandson of Henry Jr and Henry Sr who was born abt 1680 in Rehoboth. There were another 2 Amos Wests in MA descended from Francis West (W20 in the West DNA and no match to us). With regard to York being York, VA - there is a Yorktown, VA in York County - consider also York County PA which is where a number of Wests came from before settling in VA or NC. The city of York, PA itself wasn't established until about 1761, however,.

Joy Ikelman Jan 2, 06
Hal this is super information. Thanks for sharing it. I was not thinking so much about the tobacco trade and the whole economic set up. I was considering "merchant" in much smaller terms, such as "general merchandise" needed by settlers or towns. You are correct, much of the West business was the tobacco trade. I am now motivated to know more about the tobacco business in colonial times.

I have discoverd the "William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine" online, and printed out a whole bunch of stuff to read at my leisure (whatever that means). One article I found last week was Vol 14, No., July 1905, "Yorktown." York, and Yorktown, was quite the place at one time. The article says in part, "On October 8, 1630, the Council of Virginia determined to plant a settlement in the Indian district called Chiskiack, on the south side of York river. The leaders of the settlers were two councillors, Captain John Utie and Captain John West, brother of Lord Delaware, who were allowed 600 acres a piece on York river, at opposite sides of the mouth of King's creek...." The article says that the court for all the settlers in the region was was held in York. The town of Yorktown was created in 1698 about three miles above York. The article continues:

"Yorktown continued to develop until the incident occurred which at once proved its glory and destruction. It became the scene of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis in 1781, but by the war it was reduced to a mass of ruins, and has never since regained the trade which it once had."

Kevin West Jan 3, 06
Joy, I agree that we need more DNA testing. The gentleman who "apparently" descends from the Sussex Co. DE Wests submitted his samples for DNA analysis last Wednesday. I know that it's somewhat premature to be speculating but, should his DNA match ours in Group #5, it may open some interesting lines of research. In your reply to Ben you stated that, "The names Amos and Leonard are definitely suspect in their oddity. . ." Well, Ancestry contains a will for an Elijah West, which was probated 1791 in Sussex Co. DE, that lists a son named Amos. I know this document's Amos would be more of a contemporary with your Leonard, Agness, and Amos. But, the use of this "more unusual" first name in this will establishes another possible link between the Sussex Co. DE Wests and yours.

Ben West Jan 3, 06
Hal and Joy,

Thanks for your responses about where merchants would have been. Hal, you are right, it is interesting to note that Matthew West was in the trading business.


Joy Ikelman Jan 3, 06
An intriguing thought. It will be very interesting, indeed. I just now checked the West DNA site:­corn/westdna/ -- Looks like five tests are at the lab right now.


  1. The above is a great discussion about the comments in Rev. Crewdson's 1876 journal. Many points were made that calls for additional research. The mission of the West Family DNA Project - FG #5 is to identify & coordinate research questions to resolve them in the hopes of connecting the various branches of Family Group #5. Joy Ikelman has been working on the Judah West branch and has published quite a few articles on this blog. We could use someone to do the same in those NC counties Ben mentioned: Bute, Warren, Franklin, Granville, Orange, Chatham (including some counties neighboring these) for families of West to determine how they relate to one another. Are some of these West related to Thomas West, Sr.? Can we learn by DNA if they are related or not? All of the counties I mentioned, were formed from Edgecombe County. Early West families are recorded in Edgecombe County that had connections to the Pollock family who had many prominent NC individuals including a Governor. I believe that they can be excluded by DNA results.

    1. This was an interesting discussion. A good discussion brings up more research opportunities.

      The siblings were Leonard (b. 1760), Agness (b. 1762), and Amos (b. 1766). What I have learned since then (2005-2006) is that "Amos" was not an unusual name at the time (1760s) but "Leonard" was quite unusual. Where did the name "Leonard" come from? We want to believe it was an ancestor or family member--that's a good lead to follow. But wouldn't we be surprised if it was just a name the parents liked! The name "Leonard" appears in descendants of this Leonard.

      Also, it is significant that Crewsdon wrote that Amos West, "when a young man was a merchant, and bought his goods in New York." This would be about the 1720s, maybe. There were other ports of entry at this time, such as Boston, Baltimore, or even Norfolk. These would have been more convenient for a VA/NC merchant. So we are to wonder, where did Crewsdon find this information?

      In studying a little about John West of Stafford (on this blog; he d. 1744) that the family properties and deeds were close to northernmost part of the Rappahannock River (VA). This sometimes indicates a 2nd or 3rd generation American, based on settlement patterns. So it is very likely that we have several FG#5 Families in the British Colonies by the 1700s, connected to a common ancestor in England, possibly in the 1500s. As far as we can tell at this point, there is no DNA connection to MD or DE Wests of the early 1700s.

      Another thing I've learned is that Revolutionary War pension applications--the treasured source of information for genealogists--are not always correct. There may be errors in the age of applicant, birth places/years, and memories of the service. Widows (of soldiers) applications also have problems, as they are reporting sometimes 50 years after the service. As an example, in Leonard West's application, he says he was born in Granville County, NC. Future researchers need to study the counties in NC, but also in border counties in VA.

      Despite it's controversy, I am still a big fan of oral and written "traditions" in families. They often carry some clues for us. However, the goal is to verify every bit of key tradition with an actual legal document, which is an enormous challenge!

      In my study of the Judah West line in MA/CT/NY, I have been paying very close to the West Family Group #5 members who end up in neighboring Dutchess County, NY. Another FG#5 West line "begins" its history there. I can hypothesize until the cows come home, but actual documentation must be found to link the families. When data are found, it often verifies DNA results! As an example is the close geographic location of FG#19 and FG#5 families in CT. Same names, same migration patterns, but different DNA. The documentation definitely shows the differences between the two families. Fascinating!