Sorting out the Lewellen family has been a time consuming and confusing enterprise, made all the more difficult by the lack of consistency in the spelling of the surname .Variations include Llewellyn, Lewellyn, Luellen, Luallen, Lieuwellen, Lewallen, just to name a few. For lack of documented evidence (I have not yet found it, but am still looking) I have had to rely on geographical proximity, naming patterns of children and a couple of undocumented sources to arrive at a “preponderance of evidence” upon which my conclusions regarding the family roots of William G. Lewellen are based.
The first undocumented source, a 21-page booklet published in 1910 by Reverend Josephus Asbury Lewellen entitled “A Condensed History of the Lewellen Family in Wales and the United States” traces my line from Thomas Lewellen, born in Loudon County, Virginia, a son of Samuel and “the widow Jones” Llewellyn. Supposedly Thomas married twice, and the William G. Lewellen line descends through Samuel, the second son of Thomas and his first wife, supposedly named Tabitha. Samuel married Elizabeth Gough in Monongalia County, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1799 and had 11 children, of which William G. was the sixth.
Reverend Lewellen’s short booklet follows the traditional 19th century practice of opening with a lengthy description of the geological, geographical and political history of the area where the family story begins – in this case Wales. He then presents some information on the line of descent from Samuel Llewellyn, a portion of which follows. (My comments are in brackets.)
“In the state of Delaware, in the early part of the 18th century appears the first tangible and certain history of the family, so far as I have been able to ascertain. There was a Mr. Llewellyn (Samuel by name) who married the widow Jones, who was the mother of Jacob Jones, the progenitor of the Jones family of this country. After the marriage of Llewellyn with Mrs. Jones, they migrated to Loudon county, Va. bringing young Jacob Jones with them. After their removal to Virginia, there was born to them a son, who they named Thomas. It is not known whether there were any other children. Thomas married a young woman named Tabatha. I have not been able to get the family name of the young woman. Thomas and Tabatha were the parents of four children, two sons and two daughters. Have not the name of the oldest daughter, but she married a Mr. Swick. Rachel married Samuel Jones, a son of the said Jacob Jones. Samuel married Elizabeth Gough and Thomas married a second time to a woman by the name of Jennings.” [BB note: the Reverend does not give the name of the second son. Reference here to Thomas marrying a second time is Thomas, husband of Tabatha, father of Rachel and Samuel and another daughter and son. My research shows that the daughter who supposedly married a Mr. Swick may have been named Rosanna, and the second son’s name was Thomas. He married Mary Gough in Monongalia County, Virginia in 1804. Mary was the sister of Elizabeth Gough, who married Thomas’ brother Samuel. Thomas and Mary had 11 children and settled in Athens County, Ohio in the mid 1830’s. Thomas, the elder’s, second wife’s name was likely Susannah Jennings.]
Continuing with the Reverend’s story:
“To them were born three children: Phillip, David and Mary. Phillip married Mary A. Osborn: to them were born seven children: Thomas O., Julia A., Drusillia, Alpheus J., Zerah M., Josephus and Phillip W.
David married Abigail Jones. To them were born 12 children: Jabish, Priscilla, Elizabeth, Eliza, Mary, Benjamin, Jesse, Thomas W., James S., Rebecca J., Jonathan M. and David M.
Mary was united in marriage with Jabish Jones, and to them were born three sons, the names of whom I failed to get.
The following, which relates to the first appearance of the Llewellyn family in the state of Indiana, is gleaned from the authentic history of Randolph county. It is here related that a Mr. Llewellyn, at the time in advanced age, came to Randolph county and settled on the Mississinawa river somewhere near Dearfield, and was the first settler in Franklin township, coming there in the year 1817.
His son Mesheck married Hannah Brooks and there was born to them Mesheck, Deborah, Haney, Mary, Rachel, Benjamin and Isaac.
Mesheck died single; Deborah married a Mr. Miller; Haney united in marriage with James Addington; Mary married David Hammer [12 January 1826, Randolph Co.]; Rachel married Abraham Renbarger [28 November 1824, Randolph Co.]; Benjamin married Jane Doty [or Jane Sutton 20 March 1823, Randolph Co.]; Isaac married (name of lady not known). [Her name was Sarah Miller and they married 3 May 1824, Randolph Co.] There were born to the union two sons and one daughter: Mesheck Shadrach and Hannah. Isaac and the two sons, young men, died with cholera while crossing the “plains” on their way to Oregon in the year 1849. Hannah married Absolom Addington whose relatives lived at or near Ridgeville, Indiana, and some of them live there now. Benjamin and Jane Doty were the parents of eight children: three daughters and five sons. The eldest, Hannah, married Mr. Babb; Jeremiah married Rebecca Ann Weyland; Phebe married William Hammer; Jeptha married Jane Jones; Mesheck and Abednego (twins), the former died in infancy; David and Martha. Whether David and Martha were married we do not know. Benjamin Lewellyn and his whole family moved to the state of Kansas some time in 1850 to 1855; the exact time we do not know, and do not know anything of the family at this time.” [BB note: I have not found a connection between the first Llewellyn family described - that of Thomas - and the last one described as settling in Randolph County, Indiana in 1817, however it is possible there is a tie, and that is why I have included the Reverends comments regarding the individuals in this family. Reverend Lewellen next devotes a number of pages to describing the killing of an Indian by the Randolph County Llewellyn family, then returns to Thomas’ line.]
“We return now to consider the Indiana history of our more immediate ancestry. Samuel Lewellyn, who was the son of Thomas and full brother of Rachel, and another sister by the first marriage, and half brother of Phillip, David and Mary, came to Indiana and settled near the western border of Randolph county about 1838 or 1840. [BB note: It is more likely that Samuel was in Indiana by 1836 as there is record that he purchased a tract of land in the northeast corner of Liberty Twp., close to the Randolph County border in that year.] Samuel Lewellyn was the father of ten children: Rolla [Rawley], Abigail, William, John, Thomas, Felix, Susan, Mary, Elizabeth, Rebecca. Rolla and Felix emigrated west, and took up their abode in Missouri. [St. Clair County} Mary was Langfitt 13 April 1843 in Randolph County, VA in marriage with John Williams and so far as I know had three children: Franklin, Samuel and Martha. Elizabeth married George Washington Currant. They were the parents, so I am informed, of three children: John W., Eliza and Emma. I have no information concerning the other children of Samuel.” [Information on all of Samuel’s children follows this account.]
“Phillip, the eldest son of Thomas, by his second marriage, and a half brother to Samuel just mentioned, was born in Virginia, January 14, 1794, and moved to Indiana in 1836, and settled on the banks of Campbell creek, [Delaware Township, Delaware County] and with the aid of his oldest son began the herculean task of making a farm out of the heavily wooded land, and at length succeeded, but not until he was too much broken down and worn out to enjoy the fruits of his toil for any length of time. He soon after abandoned the farm and moved to Smithfield, [Liberty Township, Delaware County] and engaged in the hotel business, and remained there until the time of his death which occurred April 10, 1859. [Cemetery records indicate he died 23 Apr 1859, age 64 years, 6 months and 12 days, which would make the birthdate given by the Reverend incorrect. If the death date and age at time of death are correct, Phillip was born 11 Oct 1794.] He was the father of seven children: Thomas O., Julia A., Drusilla, Alpheus J., Zerah M., Josephus and Phillip Westley. His wife, Mary Ann, whose maiden name was Osborn, was blind for thirty years in this world, and never saw her youngest child. David Lewellyn, full brother of Phillip, married Abigail Jones, and came from Preston county, Virginia, in a wagon in 1835, and found a home in Henry county, Indiana. They were the parents of twelve children: Jabesh, was wedded to Mary Macy, and settled in Henry county. Priscilla married David Macy, took up their abode in Randolph county, and are still living. Elizabeth, married Michael Houck and chose their abode in Henry county. Eliza married Thorton F. Rogers and settled also in Henry county. Mary was married to John W. Lake and abode in Henry county. Benjamin married Lyddia Beeson, and migrated to Howard county, Ind. Jesse was united in marriage with Susan Lake and remained in Henry county. Thomas W. married Elizabth Houck and chose Howard county, Ind., for their home. James S. was united in marriage with Arah Davis, and still lives in Henry county. Rebecca J. died in infancy. Jonathan M. was married to Hester Seemer, and settled in Henry co. David M. married Lydia Bales and took up their abode in Randolph county, Ind. There are still surviving of this family Priscilla, Benjamin, Jesse and James.
Of Mary, the sister of Phillip and David and who married Jabesh Jones, I have no further history.
Jabeth married Pollie Lewellyn, sister of Phillip Lewellyn, moved to Iowa about 1836. To this union were born three sons: Benjamin, Thomas, and Peter Malott. Benjamin married Sarah Tharp, Malott married Susan Jones. Thomas never married. All died in Iowa.” [BB note: This paragraph is quite confusing, but my interpretation is that ‘Jabeth’ is actually ‘Jabesh,’ and ‘Pollie’ is ‘Mary, both referred to in the previous paragraph. Earlier, Rev. Lewellen had said that “Mary was united in marriage with Jabish Jones, and to them were born three sons, the names of whom I failed to get.” Why he now suddenly has the names is perplexing.]
“The children of Phillip and Mary Ann Osborn were married and settled as follows: Thomas O. married to Eliza Langfitt and became the parents of nine children and lived and died on the same farm entered by their father Phillip in 1836. Julia married a Mr. Ketteman and had one child. Drusilla married Nelson Leonard and was the mother of five children; their home for the last twenty-five years is Ft. Wayne, Ind. Alpheus J. was married to Eleanor Kypert and both are deceased. They were the parents of several children, only one of whom survives. Zerah M. united in marriage with Sarah Ann Truitt, and there were born to them six children. Their life time was spent in Delaware county, Ind. Z.M. was married a second time to Elizabeth Truitt, a sister of his first wife. Josephus married Mary Jane Truitt and had three children. He died when but a young man, about thirty. Phillip Wesley married a Miss Widener and emigrated to Clarinda, Iowa, where he was engaged in the practice of medicine until the present summer. He again removed westward and settled down to live in New Mexico….”
The second published source of information to which I referred in piecing together the family of William G. Lewellen is “The Geneology [sic] of the William Lewellen Families,” by Mrs. Jerry Lewelleyn, Sr., copyright 1976. In the preface she says, “In 1932 I was elected Historian for the Lewellyn and Lewellen reunions held at Kokomo, Indiana; since then have written many letters and several telephone calls to parents, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, hoping to bring each family to 1976. As I have been unable to get only a few documented records my hope is that what is recorded herein is correct, bit if an error is found I wish to apologize.”
The most glaring error within Mrs. Lewellyn’s genealogy is that she failed to include Benjamin Franklin as the eldest child of William G. and Mary (Rector) Lewellen. I’m not certain quite how to explain the oversight. Had Mrs. Lewellyn looked at the 1850 Federal Census for Indiana, Liberty Township, Delaware County, page 312, family 279, she would have found Benjamin F., age 18, farmer, born Virginia, listed right after William G. Lewellen and wife Mary. (Other children appearing with the family: Rebecca, Bruce, Melissa, Josephus, Homer and Emily. Also, in the 1860 Federal Census for Indiana, Stony Creek Township, Randolph County, page 626, family 642 Benjamin’s brother Josephus is living with him and his family in Randolph County. Why Mrs. Lewellyn was unaware of William's and Mary's eldest child is unknown, but perhaps her dearth of information stems from the fact that Benjamin moved to Randolph County shortly after marriage, while all of the other siblings remained in the Howard/Tipton/ Grant Counties area. There may have been limited contact after around 1855. Also, Benjamin died at an early age (33) and his wife and children may have then lost contact with his family.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Lewellyn does present substantial details on the seven other children of William G. and Mary and their descendants. She also presents an interesting story she says had been handed down by word of mouth and acknowledges that she was unable to find any records to prove or disprove the story. It is:
' William, a farmer in Taylor Co., VA (now WV) married Mary (Polly) Rector, born 1811 in VA, date of marriage not known. Early in 1846, William sold all of his property and with his wife and four children, migrated to Indiana in a covered wagon. On the way, their fifth child was born somewhere in Indiana. They settled in Tipton Co., where their sixth and seventh children were born in 1850 and 1852. Soon afterward, they moved onto the Howard and Grant Co. line, near Slash, now named Normal, where William had a saw mill and made shingles for roofs. Sometime between 1855 and 1860, William made a trip back to Virginia to his mother's funeral. The exact place and his mother's name is not known. On his way back to Indiana, crossing the Ohio River on a ferry, there were sick people. By the time William arrived home he was very sick with the Black Plague, now called smallpox. Eventually the complete family was stricken with the dreadful disease. A man traveling through the country came by and saw the condition of the family. He stayed with them and by taking away all meat from their diet and giving them only vegetables and herbs found on the land, he was able to save all but the father, William. William was taken out in the night in the dead of winter and buried in the woods on their property, the date is not known although the writer has seen the place and the board marker, but the date was not readable.'
Since the federal census for 1850 shows William’s first five children (four by Mrs. Lewellyn’s count) as being born in Virginia, the family tradition that William and his wife and kids migrated to Indiana around 1846 is likely correct. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find William G. in the 1840 Federal Census and thus can’t prove his presence in Virginia, or anywhere else for that matter, in 1840. Although his father and uncles had migrated to Indiana and Ohio around 1836, it is not impossible that William would stay behind in Virginia for a full ten years before also making the trek, particularly if his wife had close family ties to the area. The notion that William made a trip back to Virginia between 1855 and 1860 to attend his mother’s funeral is exceedingly unlikely, even if William’s parents weren’t already living in Indiana. In this period it would have taken a number of days to make the journey from Indiana to Virginia, and no deceased person would have been kept above ground that long. It is believable that William contracted smallpox and died and was buried in the woods on his property, although I have not been able to confirm that fact. Certainly one would have to assume that the board marker, if it exists, is not the original one after some 140 years of exposure to the elements.
Oral family traditions, such as the story presented by Mrs. Lewellyn, are quite common, but unless verifiable by evidence should always be taken with a grain of salt. Facts can be changed or distorted over the course of years and many tellings. The greatest value of oral family traditions is that they do often provide clues that unltimately can lead to the truth.
What follows is my Lewellen lineage, based on Rev. Lewellen’s account, Mrs. Lewellyn’s genealogy, research in such sources as census records, the Mormon’s International Genealogical Index and Ancestral File records, and various state vital records.