Henry Skaggs (1724-1810), Pioneer Kentucky Longhunter

  • Born 8 Jan 1724
  • Son of James and Rachel Susannah (Moredock) Skaggs
  • Died 4 Dec 1810
  • Buried Barren County, Kentucky

As an early Kentucky explorer, Henry Skaggs was discussed in the book Isaac Shelby: Revolutionary Patriot and Border Hero, Vol. 1, by Archibald Henderson, 1918 (p. 125):

For years, in fact since 1764, Daniel Boone had been exploring expeditions to the westward in the interest of the land company known as Richard Henderson and Company. Another explorer for Richard Henderson, who later made hunting tours and explorations in Kentucky, was Henry Skaggs, who as early as 1765 examined the lower Cumberland region as the representative of Richard Henderson and Company and established his station near the present site of Goodlettsville, in Davidson County, Tennessee.

Henry Skaggs was one of the founders in 1770 of a company of Kentucky longhunters, as discussed in Reuben Thwaites’ book Daniel Boone, 1902 (pp. 91-95):

. . . about forty of the most noted and successful hunters of New River and Holston Valleys formed, in the summer of 1770, a company for hunting and trapping to the west of [the] Cumberland Mountains. Under the leadership of two of the best woodsmen of the region, Joseph Drake and Henry Skaggs, and including several of Stone’s party, they set out in early autumn fully prepared for meeting Indians and living on game. Each man took with him three packhorses, rifles, ammunition, traps, dogs, blankets, and salt, and was dressed in the deerskin costume of the times.

Pushing on through Cumberland Gap, the adventurers were soon in the heart of Kentucky. In accordance with custom, they visited some of the best licks – a few of which were probably first seen by them – for here wild beasts were always to be found in profusion. At Knob Licks they beheld from an eminence which overlooked the springs “what they estimated at largely over a thousand animals, including buffaloe [sic], elk, bear, and deer, with many wild turkies [sic] scattered among them – all quite restless, some playing, and others busily employed in licking the earth; but at length they took flight and bounded away all in one direction, so that in the brief space of a couple of minutes not an animal was to be seen.” Within an area of many acres, the animals had eaten the salty earth to a depth of several feet.

Successful in a high degree, the party ceased operations in February, and had completed preparations for sending a large shipment of skins, furs, and “jerk” to the settlements, when, in their temporary absence, roving Cherokees robbed them of much of their stores and spoiled the greater part of the remainder. “Fifteen hundred skins gone to ruination!” was the legend which one of them carved upon the bark of a neighboring tree, a record to which were appended the initials of each member of the party. A series of disasters followed, in the course of which two men were carried off by Indians and never again seen, and others fled for home. Those remaining, having still much ammunition and the horses, continued their hunt, chiefly upon the Green and Cumberland Rivers, and in due time brought together another store of peltries, almost as extensive as that despoiled by the savages.

Not long after the robbery, when the Long Hunters were upon Green River, one of the parties into which the band was divided were going into camp for the night, when a singular noise was heard proceeding from a considerable distance in the forest. The leader, Caspar Mansker, commanded silence on the part of his comrades, and himself crept cautiously from tree to tree in the direction of the sound. Imagine his surprise and amusement to find “a man bare-headed, stretched flat upon his back on a deerskin spread on the ground, singing merrily at the top of his voice!” The singer was our hero, Daniel Boone, who, regardless of possible Indian neighbors, was thus enjoying himself while awaiting Squire’s belated return to camp. Like most woodsmen of his day and ours, Boone was fond of singing, in his rude way, as well as of relating tales of stirring adventure. In such manner were many hours whiled away around the
camp-fires of wilderness hunters.

The Boones at once joined and spent some time with the Long Hunters, no doubt delighted at this opportunity of once more mingling with men of their kind. Among their amusement was that of naming rivers, creeks, and hills after members of the party; many of these names are still preserved upon the map of Kentucky. At one time they discovered that some French hunters from the Illinois country had recently visited a lick to kill buffaloes [sic] for their tongues and tallow, which they had loaded into a keel-boat and taken down the Cumberland. In after years one of the Long Hunters declared that this wholesale slaughter was so great “that one could walk for several hundred yards in and around the lick on buffaloes’ skulls and bones, with which the whole flat around the lick was bleached.”

It was not until August that the Long Hunters returned to their homes, after a profitable absence of eleven months. But the Boone brothers left their comrades in March and headed for the Yadkin, with horses now well laden with spoils of their chase. . . .

The book Kentucky Mountains by Mary Verhoeff, 1911 (p. 82) mentions the creek in Kentucky that has gone by the name of Skegg’s Creek, also known as Skaggs Creek:

The name was given it, probably, by Henry Skaggs, who hunted there before 1775. This was an old Indian trail . . . . According to Collins, “Skaggs trace” was “plainly visible” as late as 1873 in Rockcastle County.

Henry Skaggs is mentioned in the Draper manuscripts in connection with the longhunters’ station camp in Green Co., KY in 1771:

Henry Skaggs and brothers were a noted family of hunters, and nothing but hunters; and keeping pace with the advancing settlements, they pushed forward to Clinch River, and were in 1777 at Shadrack White’s Station in the neighborhood of Maiden Spring Fork of Clinch. In 1779, Henry Skaggs, accompanied by upwards of twenty men, started for Kentucky, were attacked by Indians in Powell’s Valley, lost part of their horses, when all returned, save Skaggs, his son John a mere youth, and a man named Sinclair. With eleven horses they went to the Green River country to hunt, and during the succeeding hard winter Sinclair got lost, probably drowned in Green River, and young Skaggs sickened and died, and amidst the severities of the season a hollow log was his burial place. His father was left alone to finish the hunt, and return home with the horses, pelts and furs. He settled on Pitman’s Creek in the Green River country, within the present Taylor County, Ky., in 1789, with his children and connections around him, sharing freely in the Indian difficulties of the times; and there he died in 1808 or ’09, aged upwards of eighty years. Possessing a large and bony frame, he was bold, enterprising and fearless. His brothers Charles and Richard also settled in that region, lived to a good old age.


36 responses to “Henry Skaggs (1724-1810), Pioneer Kentucky Longhunter

  1. henrys greatgrandson is buried on the skaggs family cemetery in taylor co , ky. I have pixof his tombstone,william david skaggs 1831-1912 he was my great grandfather. he was married to nancy l. Sutton his 2nd. wife. who is also buried there beside her son james franklin skaggs, & my dad William e. skaggs. my dad made the skaggs name sign above the gate. he grew up on that farm.

  2. Hello….can anyone clearify for me IF there was indeed two (2) men in the Barren / Green Co. KY area that BOTH went by almost the SAME NAMES of Henry Skaggs and Henry Skeggs (one surname spelled with an “A” and the other with an “E”???
    The reason I ask, is that in the “The Edwards Family of Barren Co., KY, Part 3″ by Cyrus Edwards 1924 and in “Cyrus Edwards’ Stories of Early Days”, Edwards tells a story of a Murder at Frenchman’s Knob in April 1788 and states that there was a Henry Skeggs a man of mystery that had lived with his Grandfather, Cader Edwards (and his wife and children) from 1765 while the Edwards made their home in the New River and upper Holston Settlements in Virginia and through the period that the Edwards Family moved to Barren Co., KY.
    Edwards’ states that Henry Skeggs was the same man referred to in Kentucky history as one of the “Long Hunters”, and a companion of Boone, Kenton, Logan and the McAfees. That this Skeggs was a SINGLE man with NO WIFE or NO CHILDREN. Skeggs would usually be gone from early Spring to late Fall.
    In addition, there was the famous SKAGGS BROTHERS as mentioned in several books and several web sites (Henry, Richard, Charles, Moses, James and several others)….Henry being the famous “Long Hunter” (1724-1810), who died in Barren Co., KY.
    This Skaggs family intermarried into my Perry and Pierce family in the early 1800’s in Kentucky and in Indiana……My 4th ggf was “Richard Ankrum PERRY, Sr. (b. 1775; NC – d. 1860; Morgan Co., IN) married November 1803 in Green Co., KY to Rebecca PIERCE, daughter of William Pierce and Anne Tunstall of Barren Co., KY (Wm and Ann had Land Deeds in the 1770’s in Culpeper Co., VA and possiable also lived in Rowan Co., NC before KY). Wm and Anne Pierce had a son (James m. Elizabeth Skaggs) and a daughter (Mary Polly m. Wm [Squire] Skaggs) in 1803 and 1802 in Green Co., KY.
    Seeking verification that there was indeed two (2) different Henry Skeggs/Skaggs who lived in the same area of Barren / Green Co., KY. Any information is most appreciated. Please e-mail me at: prrysus@aol.com. Best Regards, Susan Perry

  3. I have information on the family of William “Longhunter” Pittman who hunted with Mr. Skaggs.

    • From what little DTP (Definitive Tangible Proof) I have been able to acquire, My SKAGGS Ancestors are as follows:

      Grandparents:
      Arley Allen SKAGGS (1911-1997)
      Evelyn Viola GREGORY (1920-1978)

      Great-Grandparents:
      James Thomas SKAGGS (1868-1934)
      Emily Jane NEELEY (1874-1937)

      2xGreat-Grandparents:
      John Milton SKAGGS (1846-1893)
      Lavina BAILEY (1848-1924)

      3xGreat-Grandparents:
      Thomas Patterson SKAGGS (1825-1915)
      Mary THOMPSON (1823-1878)

      4xGreat-Grandparents:
      John SKAGGS II (1800-1871)
      EDNA ENNIS (1801-1881)
      [Note: I have only found documentation, on the above named individuals, after this my information is based on the accumulation of "Other People's" research &/ postings online.]
      —————————————————————————
      5xGreat-Grandparents:
      John SKAGGS, Sr. (1762-1839)
      Katherine HICKS (1765-1842)

      6xGreat-Grandparents:
      Richard SKAGGS (1738-1818)
      Elizabeth WELLS (1735-1811)

      7xGreat-Grandparents:
      James SKAGGS (1700-1798)
      Rachel Susannah (surname/maiden name, Unconfirmed) (1705-1789)
      [Note: James SKAGGS was born, on "Open Waters", from Ireland to Virginia]

      8xGreat-Grandparents:
      Richard Thomas SKAGGS (1674-1766)
      (Spouse Unknown)
      [Note: Richard Thomas SKAGGS was born in Londonderry, Ulster, Ireland]
      ———————————————————————————-
      9xGreat-Grandparents:
      Thomas Bussell SKAGGS (1640-1740)
      Ann WOLLARD (1640-1740)

      10xGreat-Grandparents:
      William SKAGGS (1600-1680)
      Mary HATCH (1600-1680)

      11xGreat-Grandparents:
      Ire SKAGGS (1580-1680)
      Moira TENNY (1580-????)

      As you can see, my information, is quite limited, that’s why I keep an open mind, and open eyes, looking for more “documented” research.

    • I am the ggggg grandaughter of William”Longhunter” Pittman. I know a lot about him. Do you have any special info. I wouldn’t have?

  4. Does anyone have record of Mary “polly” Skaggs, daughter of Henry? I’m still trying to confirm if she married a William Combs, probably in Green Co. KY. I believe I’m a desendent from this line (I have records that trace my Combs’ roots to Green Co. KY in the early 1800s). I’m trying to connect the William Combs/Polly Skaggs back to NC and/or possibly VA? Help!

  5. Alishia michelle (Skaggs) Wathen

    Wow thisis one of my greatgrandads. No wonder I can’t get lost. And have the hunting sense of a beagel.

  6. Does anybody know the name of the cemetery and the location of said cemetery where Henry, Charles and Richard are buried? Thank you…

  7. http://www.public.asu.edu/~moore/archibald/archibald.html

    Transcription of Archibald Thompson’s Diary. Some of the children of Henry ‘The Longhunter’ Skaggs and Mary Thompson, his wife and sister to Archibald Thompson are listed.
    Will Record of Green County Ky 1796-1824, published by Elizabeth Prather Ellesberry,some changes made according to listing in James Skaggs and Anna McCologen Skaggs book by Michael Miller.
    Book 1 Page 56 will of Henry Skaggs
    Written 5 April 1809
    I leave all my estate real and personal to my beloved Wife.
    My grandson, John, son of James Skaggs
    My sons: David and James
    My daughter, Sarah
    To Sylvia Roark and Stephen Skaggs
    My children: Solomon, Lucy Stacy, and Rachel Ray, Nancy DSpane, and Polly Combs.Ecsecutors
    James, my son and Eliaz Barbee, Witnesses: Elias Barbee, John Barbee, Larkin Durettes, James Rafity, and William Barbee.
    Probated: 4 December 1810
    Henry’s wife Mary survived him.. his will was later contested due to poor management of property, I take it, by Mary. I don’t know what the outcome of that was?

  8. I have just begun my research on my Maternal Family of SKAGGS, and learning more about my ancester, Richard, brother of Henry

    • hi my name is Vickie. my birth name is Vickie sue skaggs. my dad is a skaggs his dad is Oscar lee skaggs and his dad was named henry skaggs from Kentucky, he married a lady named jane eason I think that is how it is spelled.they came to mo. from ky,to cape and my grandmother came trough the trail of tears/ meet a man named henry minson

      • My name is Judy Foley. My gr.gr….. grandfather was William “Longhunter” Pittman from Green County,KY. I believe your Henry Skaggs and my gr. grandfather were buddies and hunted together. I’m thinking he was the Skaggs that died at “Pittman’s Station” in Green County,KY? I know I have another Skaggs marriage in my line somewhere and I’ll have to look that up. I live in Clarksville,TN.

      • Does anyone have any information on Wallen family who were longhunters with Scaggs and Boone? Thanks, Kat

      • Jeffery Pittman, I have very much information on the Pittman line. If you’d like to email me, or find me on facebook, I will share with you. We are related(vaguely) but blood is blood…

  9. This is interesting to learn about the family tree. We just started doing this about 3 weeks ago and have learned alot about the Skagss family.

  10. I am interested in how Old Peter Skaggs fits with the Skaggs family of Virginia and Kentucky. I set up a blog to share information about Peter Skaggs.

  11. I gathered from the Archibald Thompson Diary that Henry married Mary and Charles was married to Lucinda… Thompson sisters. I had read many years ago and can’t seem to find now, a story about Lucinda Thompson Skaggs’ sons taking papers from her to file for Indian land, but not getting to where they were going in time. ? Wondered if there are any dna studies from lineage of Thompson females that might show American Indian blood?
    I say this because I was under the impression that it was the sister’s mother that carried the American Indian blood, not the father John Thompson.

  12. http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?skaggs::thompson::2988.html here is the link or information I was talking about with the Thompsons.

  13. It’s my understanding that Henry and Charles married Sarah and Mary Thompson… The Thompsons were Cherokee.I’ll have to dig awhile before I can tell you where I read this, but I think it was on http://www.genforum/genealogy.com

  14. Henry The Longhunter is my 5grgrandfather, through his son James who went to Madison Co.,MO and then grandson Samuel H Skaggs also from Madison Co.,MO.
    I would like to visit the area where Henry lived/settled. Suggestions on places to see and go, much appreciated.

  15. Yes, Nancy Skaggs was the daughter of Solomon and Rhoda. ME BAD!

  16. Rev. Donald R. Smith

    To Dottie Rayhawk,
    Looking back over my notes I see that you are absolutely correct. I looked over that generation.

  17. Susan Skaggs Hopkins

    I am the 7th great neice of Henry Skaggs, the Long Hunter. I am enjoying discovering all this rich history of my paternal side of the family. My Father is Hargis Lloyd Skaggs (1921-1963) and my Grandfather is Dr. John Elbert Skaggs who died in Paintsville Ky. in 1962

  18. CLYDE JERIL DEWEESE

    CLYDE JERIL DEWEESE,IS RELATED TO JAMES SKAGGS B.1700,WIFE IS RACHEL MOREDOCK.ON MY MOTHERS SIDE SHE WAS A RENFROW,HER MOTHER WAS A PHELPS.HER MOTHER WAS A LOGSTON. HER MOTHER WAS A RHODA SKAGGS.HER DAD WAS RICHARD SKAGGS.HIS PARENTS WAS JAMES SKAGGS AND RACHEL MOREDOCK.QUESTION:HAS THE MOREDOCK OR SKAGGS GOT NATIVE AMERICAN BLOOD IN THEM?

    • Clyde, Are you a member of the Deweese family that married into the John Martin m. Anna Page family? I descend from William “Longhunter” Pittman and have Phelps of Butler County,KY and I know I have Renfrow somewhere in there?

      VAALBEMA-L Archives

      Archiver > VAALBEMA > 1999-10 > 0939746445
      ——————————————————————————–

      From: “Doris M. Phelps”
      Subject: Re: [VAALBEMA-L] MARTIN family
      Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 12:40:45 -0400

      Ancestors of John Lewis Martin

      Generation No. 1

      1. John Lewis Martin, born 27 November 1806 in Amherst County, Virginia;
      died Aft. 1885. He was the son of 2. John N. Martin and 3. Anna Page. He
      married (1) Sarah A. Cole 11 June 1829. She was born 10 October 1809 in
      Warren County, Kentucky. She was the daughter of Ebenezer Cole and Mary
      Romans.

      Generation No. 2

      2. John N. Martin, born about 1760 in Amherst County, Virginia; died 1820 in
      Gerrard County, Kentucky. He was the son of 4. Steven Martin. He married 3.
      Anna Page 22 November 1797 in Amhearst County, Virginia.

      3. Anna Page, born about 1774 in Amherst County, Virginia; died 1844 in
      Gerrard County, Kentucky.

      Children of John Martin and Anna Page are:

      i. Elizabeth Martin

      ii. Lucinda Martin

      iii. Margaret Martin, married Christopher R. Pitman 10 August 1831 in Butler
      County, Kentucky; born about 1811 in Kentucky.

      1 iv. John Lewis Martin, born 27 November 1806 in Amherst County, Virginia;
      died Aft. 1885; married Sarah A. Cole 11 June 1829.

      v. Rebecca Ann Martin, born 1815 in Gerrard County, Kentucky; died about
      1879 in Butler County , Kentucky; married Samuel Phelps 01 December 1836 in
      Butler County, Kentucky, by Benjamin Burden; born 1791 in Green County,
      Kentucky; died Bef. 1860 in Butler County , Kentucky.

      Generation No. 3

      4. Steven Martin, born about 1745.

      Child of Steven Martin is:

      2 i. John N. Martin, born about 1760 in Amherst County, Virginia; died 1820
      in Gerrard County, Kentucky; married Anna Page 22 November 1797 in Amhearst
      County, Virginia.

      —– Original Message —–
      From:
      To:
      Sent: Monday, October 11, 1999 3:53 PM
      Subject: Re: [VAALBEMA-L] MARTIN family

      > Lonny,
      >
      > Thanks. Do you or anyone else recognize this as the same family?
      >
      > It is taken from:
      > Kentucky: A History of the State, Battle, Perrin, & Kniffin, 2nd ed.,
      > 1885, Butler Co.
      > JOHN LEWIS MARTIN, Butler County, was born November 27, 1806,
      > in Amherst County, Va. In 1809 he removed with his parents to Garrard
      > County, Ky., and in 1830 located in Butler County, where he has since
      > resided. His
      > father, John Martin, a native of Virginia, died in 1820, aged about sixty
      > years. He married Anna Page, of Amherst County, Va., who died about 1844,
      > aged seventy years. Their children are Elizabeth (Cole), subject, Lucinda
      > (Cole), Margaret (Pitman), and Rebecca A. (Phelps). June 11, 1829,
      subject
      > was married to Sarah A., daughter of Ebenezer and Mary (Romans) Cole, of
      > Warren County, who was born October 10, 1809. To them have been born
      > Isabelle (Cardwell and Winkfield), Green, Ann (Deweese), Woodford R.,
      John,
      > Warren N., Sarah (Romans), Anthetta (Renfrow), and Euclid C. Mr. Martin
      was
      > brought up on a farm, and has always followed farming. He owns 400 acres
      of
      > good land, 200 of which are in the Green
      > River bottoms, and very valuable. He has divided 650 acres among his
      > children. He and wife started about even with the world, but by industry
      and
      > frugality, have attained to independence. He is a member of the Methodist
      > Church, and in politics is independent.
      >
      > Martin Page Cole Pitman Phelps Romans Cardwell Winkfield Deweese Renfrow
      > =
      > Amherst-VA Warren-KY

      • Jeffrey Pittman

        I am trying to find the father of an Anderson Pittman, who was born in Butler County, Kentucky in 1843. Is he related to William Pittman?

  19. Henry is my 5 great grandfather. His son James is my line. I live in Oregon. Yehaw! I know why I have the wanderlust to ride my horse in the mountains forever.

  20. Annette ( Johnson) Braswell

    I have found a geology that my father started and they have a Henry Skaggs as my 5th great grandfather…he is the father of Nancy Skaggs, is this the same Henry? I would really like to get some information on this if anyone can help.
    Thanks.

    • Rev. Donald R. Smith

      Yes. Nancy Skaggs Wadsworth was the daughter of Hunting Henry Skaggs.
      She is my ggggggrandmother. She is buried in Raglesville Cemetery, Raglesville, Daviess County, IN.

      • Dottie Rayhawk

        Rev. Donald Smith
        I too am descended from Nancy Skaggs and Thomas Wadsworth through their daughter, Margaret who married Peter Ragle. I have Nancy as the d/o Solomon and Rhoda, Hunting Henry’s son.
        Would like to compare notes.
        Dottie Rayhawk

  21. My wife Judy Carol Skaggs is related to Henry The Long Hunter Skaggs,
    we live in Graves County, Kentucky, her dad is Connie W. Skaggs.

    11-27-2010

  22. dang proud to be from such stock

  23. Henry Skaggs is my 5th great grandfather!! Man I love my family history!!

  24. My husband Jim Wilkerson is a descendant of Henry Skaggs through Henry’s marriage to Susan Scott. Their daughter Nancy Skaggs married Peter DeSpain. Of that union a son, John DeSpain married (3) Mariah Perkins. John and Mariah’s daughter Mary Elizabeth DeSpain married John W. Whitmore, a Medal of Honor recipient in the Civil War. The DeSpain and Whitmore families settled in Des Moines County near Pleasant Grove, Iowa.

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