52 Ancestors: #34 James INGRAM, Where Did You Hide the Key?

“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is entry #34 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

#34 James INGRAM, Where Did You Hide the Key?

Oral tradition, passed on through the generations, can help our genealogy research but it can also be a hindrance. When I started my Facebook page, more than a year before I started blogging, I wrote short summaries about my brick walls. My 4th great-grandfather James INGRAM, born between 1771-1774 in Virginia and died fall of 1865 in West Virginia, was the subject of the post I wrote in December 2012. Unfortunately, no headway has been made on his parentage. One of these days I’ll find the key to open the door in the INGRAM brick wall.


Ester INGRAM (also seen as Esther and Easter) may have been the mother of my James INGRAM. She is the first INGRAM to be found in Greenbrier County Personal Property Tax Lists in 1792 suggesting that she was a widow by this time.1 She sold a 95-acre land grant received in 1795 in 1800 and had at least two daughters who married in Greenbrier with her permission.

  • Patience INGRAM and David STAY
    Jim Talbert of the Greenbrier Historical Society confirmed on 8 August 2006 that there is a marriage permission slip for Patience INGRAM in the Greenbrier records. Easter INGRAM signed for “my daughter” on 19 May 1790. David STAY and John KING went bond. Easter’s husband was not named in any of these records.
  • Elizabeth INGRAM and Francis STORY
    Nancy C. Story Adkins obtained a photocopy of the original marriage bond from the Greenbrier Historical Society. Elizabeth’s mother Esther INGRAM gave permission. The couple married on 20 December 1798.

I had a slight panic attack when I was pulling this together and realized that Ester could have been the first name for a male. I checked the original land grant for the 95 acres that she sold in 1800 at the Library of Virginia and it shows that she was a female.

Virginia State Land Office. Grants A-Z, 1-124, reels 42-190; Virginia State Land Office. Grants 125- , reels 369-. Mentions: Ester Ingram (grantee) assignee of James Dyche; land near Richard Humphries, John Viney and Thomas Cooper 1795. Library of Virginia. Archives.

Was Ester INGRAM the mother of our James INGRAM? Who was the husband of Ester INGRAM? Was James the brother of Nancy INGRAM (md. 1787 William SLAVEN) and Parnal INGRAM (md. 1793 Eliza Carmons) who also married in Greenbrier? Note: Nancy has been listed as the daughter of Abraham INGRAM but without supporting evidence.

Speculation Aside, Let’s Have a Look at His Life

James INGRAM is first found in Greenbrier County on a list of rangers in 1793. The Rangers militia was organized to protect the frontier and its settlers from Indian attacks. On 27 May 1793 Captain Hugh CAPERTON’s company of rangers were at Fort Lee on the Elk and Kanawha Rivers guarding the Kanawha Valley settlers near what is now Charleston, West Virginia.2 “Mad Anthony” WAYNE’s victory over the Indians in 1794 ended the Indian threat in what is now West Virginia.


James INGRAM was not with the rangers on 6 May 1792. Was he too young at the time?

In 1795 and 1797 James is seen in the Greenbrier County court orders:

◉ 31 March 1795 – John MATHEWS vs. James INGRAM in debt

◉ 1 April 1797 – Jonathan MATHEWS assee of James INGRAM vs. William GILLILAND in debt

James was on a Personal Property Tax List on 16 April 1799 in Greenbrier County with 1 tithable and 2 horses. This was the first time he was on a list. His surname was spelled INGRIM. Also on this list was a John INGRIM with 1 tithable and 1 horse. No further trace of him has been found. Was he a brother?

Taxation: Virginia began keeping records of residents’ payments of personal property and land taxes in 1782. The Library of Virginia has these on microfilm. Published abstracts of some of these can be found online. I am convinced that this may be the key to opening the doors in many of my brick walls in Virginia. Living overseas I can only hope that the full collection will someday be found on the internet. I want to be able to look at each year, study the neighbors of each ancestor, and see the things that may not have been included in the abstracts.

A month later, on 28 May 1799, James was “on jury” in Greenbrier. He was next seen on the 1803 (below) and 1805 tax lists of Greenbrier County, both times with 1 titable and 1 horse.

Source: http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/Greenbrier/1803PersonalB/10.jpg

On 28 February 1809 John CONNER and his wife Mary sold 120 acres for $1.00 to James INGRAM on Meadow River and Sewel on the ridge opposite Buffalow Lick in Greenbrier County.

Later in the year, James INGRAM married Margaret KINCAID, daughter of John KINCAID and Elizabeth GILLESPIE, on 24 October 1809 in Greenbrier County. They were married by Rev. Josiah OSBURN of the Baptist church.2

James and Margaret were not found on the 1810 census as Greenbrier was one of the “lost” counties. He was still in the county as he is on the 1810 Personal Property List B with 1 titable:

1810 Personal Property List B > Greenbrier County, Virginia. Source: http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/FreeSample/CDR-000484/1810/1810PersonalB/06.pdf

James and Margaret’s first child, a son James Jr., was born about 1811 most likely on the land in Greenbrier County that James bought from the CONNERs in 1809.

On 25 February 1812 James and wife Margaret sold the 120 acres that James bought in 1809 for $1.00 to Newbury STOCKTON. The land, conveyed to James INGRAM by John CONNER in 1809, was “on point of ridge that leads to Buffaloe Lick in Greenbrier County.”

During the War of 1812 (18 Jun 1812-24 Dec 1814) James and Margaret’s second son, Joshua (1813-ca.1861) was born. His birth has been estimated at about 1813 in Greenbrier. In 1815 James was on the Personal Property Tax Lists of Greenbrier with 1 tithable, 3 horses, and 5 cows. The next child, a daughter, born during the 1810s, was followed by my 3rd great-grandfather Robert (1819-1902) born about 1819 in Greenbrier.

1820 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Greenbrier [ancestry.com]
James was listed in the 1820 census of Greenbrier County with the following persons in his household: 3 males under 10 yo (James Jr., Joshua, Robert), 1 male over 45 yo (James), 1 female under 10 yo (unknown daughter), 1 female over 45 yo (Margaret, her age would be ca. 26 per 1850 census), 1 person engaged in agriculture, 6 persons in household.

Three more children were born during the 1820s: John about 1820, Matthew on 9 January 1824, and Cynthia on 25 March 1828.

Ingram Cabin

“A century and a half ago, a pioneer cabin stood in a little valley drained by a branch that flows down from cotton Hill to New River at the Narrow Falls, opposite and slightly above the mouth of Cane Branch. The little stream was known as Ingram Branch, from the name of the family that lived in the cabin. Two surveys made there in 1829 refer to Ingram’s house, to his road leading down to the river, and to Ingram Branch, the tiny tributary of New River. Though the first name of the settler is not given, it may be suspected that this was James Ingram who married Margaret (Peggy) Kincaid, daughter of John and Elizabeth Kincaid, who settled on the opposite side of the river at Cane Branch as early as 1811, and who patented land there and at the mouth of Gauley.
Ingram apparently took no steps to secure formal title to his improvement, however, and in 1829 two residents of Kanawha Falls set up rival claims to Ingram’s improvement and to some hundreds of acres surrounding it, by reason of entries and surveys made for them in that year. The map accompanying these surveys shows the location of the Ingram house to be on the branch approximately one hundred thirty poles above its mouth. This was doubtless the first cabin in that little nook of the hills. Ingram was not a permanent settler, however. He was succeeded there by Andrew and Mary Blake, and soon after the above date, James and Margaret Ingram appeared as settlers on the upper part of Loup Creek at a branch which also came to be called Ingram Branch. There they were permanent settlers and the name has survived both as a place name and family.
Ingram, also written as Inghram and Ingraham, was originally Ingelram, a Norman-French personal name.”3

It is said that James probably settled on Loup Creek (also seen as Loop Creek) at about the same time as James KINCAID (1792-1852), brother of Margaret, or soon after. The place he selected was at the mouth of a branch three miles farther up Loup Creek than Kincaid’s cabin. The branch is now called Ingram Branch. The 120-acre tract, including Ingram’s improvement, was patented by his sons, Robert and Matthew, in 1843, several years after the settlement. The move may have been in the 1820s.  Ingram Branch become part of Fayette County in 1831 when the county was formed. At the time of the 1830 census, it was most likely part of Kanawha County as the family was on the census of that county.

a certain Tract of Land, containing one hundred and twenty acres: lying and being in Fayette County on Loop creek and bounded as follow, towit Beginning at a white oak and gum corner to John Kincaid, on the Left hand side of the creek & with crossing the same S6W54 poles to a sugar tree & beech corner to same and leaving S67W60 poles to two chestnut oaks on a point S88W106 poles to a white oak North 48 poles to a white oak on a ridge N19W66 poles to a maple and hickory N48 W24 poles to a maple and beech N8W (crossing the creek) 34 poles to two chestnuts on a South hillside S69E230 poles to the beginning with its appurtenances. [Virginia State Land Office. Library of Virginia. Archives]

First Ingram Child Married in 1829?

During this period of time, James INGRAM and his family were the only family of this name in the area of Greenbrier, Kanawha, Monroe, and Nicholas counties. I have not done a complete study of all Ingram, Ingrum, Inghram, and Ingharam in the early censuses of Virginia. There were Inghram and Ingharam individuals in Lewis, Wood, Tyler, and Ohio counties. Lewis and Wood bordered on Kanawha County in 1829 (see Interactive Map of West Virginia County Formation History).

Charles WALKER married Elizabeth INGRAM on 4 August 1829 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia. No further information has been found on this marriage or couple. Was Elizabeth the unknown daughter listed in the 1820 census?

1830 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Kanawha [ancestry.com]
James was listed in the 1830 census of Kanawha County with the following persons in his household: 1 male under 5 (Matthew), 1 male 5-10 (John), 2 males 10-15 (Joshua & Robert), 1 male 15-20 (James Jr.), 1 male 50-60 (James), 1 female under 5 (Cynthia), and 1 female 40-50 (Margaret), 8 persons in household.

James and Margaret’s youngest child Ruth was born about 1832 in Fayette County. Between 1831 and 1835, the oldest son, James Jr., died in early manhood without marrying. He is buried in the Kincaid Cemetery in Kincaid, Fayette County, West Virginia.

In 1834 James was listed as having an account with Mr. LANDCRAFT, a store owner. I discovered the September 1834 inventory and appraisement of the estate of Melitus J. Landcraft while searching through the early Will Books for Fayette County. Mr. LANDCRAFT appears to have been a merchant (goods are listed) and many of my Fayette County relatives had accounts on his books and/or notes of debts. Very helpful are several “son of” mentions following the names.

In an election held on 1 April 1835 in Fayette County to determine the location of the new Court House and County Seat, “James INGRAHM” and his son “Joshua INGRAHAM” voted for Kanawha Falls.

In 1839 James INGRAM’s name appears on the Fayette County jury list.

1840 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Fayett [ancestry.com]
James was listed in the 1840 census of Fayette County with the following persons in his household: 2 males 10-15 (Matthew & John), 1 male 15-20 (Robert), 1 male 60-70 (James), 1 female 5-10 (Ruth), 1 female 10-15 (Cynthia), 1 female 50-60 (Margaret), 7 persons in household, 2 engaged in agriculture. James’ oldest living child Joshua had his own household nearby.

Following the 1840 census, James’ sons began to marry. Geraldine Dempsey Workman wrote, “….pages are missing from the Marriage book at the courthouse.” We can only assume that Robert married Huldah JOHNSON (1817-1880) about 1841 and Joshua married Mahala C. STEELE (1823-1888) bet. 1841-1845 and that their marriage records may have been on these missing pages.

According to family tradition, James’ son John was the first to leave the area. He moved to the Poca River in Kanawha County before the 1850 census.

In 1850 James, age 70, a laborer, unable to read or write, is in the household of John TINCHER, a widower with three young children and his widowed mother. At the same time, Margaret INGRAM, 56, is with her/their children Ruth, 18, Matthew, 25, and Cynthia, 23 living next door to her/their son Robert. Was James boarding with the family while working away from home? Or were James and Margaret separated?

1850 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Fayette [ancestry.com]
In 1851 James INGRAM and his wife Margaret saw three of their children marrying and setting up housekeeping. On January 9, Ruth was married to John DARLINGTON, the youngest son of Benjamin DARLINGTON and Mary JOHNSON, and lived at various places on Loup Creek. On February 13, John married Lucy Jane SKAGGS, the daughter of Joseph Preston SKAGGS and Mary LEWIS in Fayette County. On March 23, Cynthia INGRAM married John “Johnny” TINCHER, the son of William and Patsy TINCHER of Loup Creek.

In 1852 Matthew followed his brother John to Sissonville on the Poca River in Kanawha County. Robert bought Matthew’s interest in the 120-acre grant and became the sole owner. Matthew was the last of James’ children to marry on 20 August 1854 in Meigs County, Ohio, to Sarah Francis MARTIN, the daughter of Dio Clesian MARTIN and Catherine KIDD.

James’ son John, who was widowed in the 1850s, married Delilah CRAIG (1826-1869) on 12 July 1860 in Kanawha County.

1860 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > District 4 > Rock Hill > Page 126/422 > HH # 917-864 [ancestry.com]
In 1860 James is, once again, not living with his wife Margaret. He is listed as 86 years old and a laborer living alone in between James and Eleanor BERRY and John and  Lovina GODDARD in the Rocky Hill P.O. district. Margaret may have been living at the home of her nephew James Gillespie KINCAID Jr. in Kincaid as this is where she died about 1865 according to family tradition.

James’ son Joshua died between 1860-1862. The death record has not been found however his widow Mahala C. INGRAHAM remarried on 23 August 1862 in Meigs County, Ohio, to Isaac E. LEWIS, a veteran of the Mexican War.

According to family tradition in the summer of 1865, after the death of his wife, James went to live with his son Matthew in Sissonville in Kanawha County. James may have held his youngest grandchild Absolam, son of Matthew, born 30 September 1865, in his arms before the child died on 3 October 1865. James died in the fall of 1865 at the home of his son Matthew. He is estimated to have been about 90 years old and may be buried near the Methodist Church in Sissonville but this has not been proven.

James INGRAM was survived by his sons Robert, John, and Matthew; his daughters Cynthia TINCHER and Ruth DARLINGTON, and at least 30 grandchildren and possibly a great-grandchild through his son Joshua’s eldest daughter Mary.

The family would continue to grow with a total of 42 grandchildren. Son John, once again widowed, married a third time to Mary F. LEGG (1843-1870) on 1 December 1869 in Kanawha County. He died before 1880. Daughter Ruth died before 1900. Son Matthew died on 12 July 1900 in Sissonville and was buried in Pauley Cemetery on Little Sandy in Elk District in Kanawha County. Son Robert died about 1902 at the home of his cousin Preston KINCAID. And finally daughter Cynthia died on 3 May 1910 and was buried in the Carter Cemetery in Dempsey, Fayette County.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

  1. 1792 PPT 
  2. J.R. Cole, History of Greenbrier County (published 1917 in Lewisburg, West Virginia) pg. 35 
  3. L. Neil Darlington, Cabins of the Loop and Environs of the Southern Half of Fayette County Virginia (Now West Virginia)” (December 1987, McClain Printing Company, Parsons, West Virginia, 1988) pg. 222-223 

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

9 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: #34 James INGRAM, Where Did You Hide the Key?”

  1. I was fascinated with everything you found and wrote about James Ingram. I wonder if he’s related to the Ingram family of Franklin County, Virginia? Another thing that jumped out at me was a name on the 1793 list of Greenbrier County Rangers. James Kelley is listed as a Private. I know he’s not my ancestor, James Kelley, because James had finished serving in the Rev. War, was married and living in Bedford County at the time…but I was startled when I saw the name because there were other Kelley men (and they spelled “Kelley” with the “Ey”) in Greenbrier County, also supposedly not related to my family…very interesting! You do a fantastic job, Cathy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed this history very much. I am the widow of Richard Henry Ingram, born in Charleston WV, 1/22/55. His father was Omri Cornelius Ingram, born in Fayette county, 12/1912. We visited Ingram Branch once but my husband had no idea how long the family had been there. Thanks for filling in some gaps for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Josi, for taking the time to comment. I didn’t know your husband had passed away. My condolences to you and your family. I knew your sister-in-law Sharon Ingram Williams passed away in 2018 but I had not updated my information on Omri’s family. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed reading about the Ingram family.


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