Updated 5 & 20 Apr 1999
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Primary Sources: (a) hot-linked Combs Counties of Record; (b) hot-linked Combs Family Research Reports; and (c) The Combes Genealogy… by Josiah H. Combs.

Note: This Report is a second rough draft. Research is in progress.

Three elderly (born pre-1765) John Combs were in East Kentucky by 1810:

I. John Combs of Floyd Co, KY, described by The Combes Genealogy… as having "settled at the mouth of White Oak, on Carr's Fork." (p. 45)

John Combs, Sr., "father of the eight" (brothers of East Kentucky) according to The Combes Genealogy…. Note: Although it is documented that the above John Combs died in 1820 in Floyd County, that he was the same as John Combs, Sr. is apparently based primarily on (a) oral family tradition; and (b) Floyd Co, KY court records indicating that Elijah “8” Combs, Sr., s/o John Combs, Sr., administered his estate.

II. John Combs of Lincoln Co, KY, described by The Combes Genealogy… as having "moved from Lincoln (now Boyle) Co. to Carr's Fork before 1817." (p. 45)

RW John “8” Combs, b 7 Feb 1761, Virginia, d 27 Apr, 1848, Washington Co, KY; m 1782-1784, probably in Surry Co, NC, Margaret UNKNOWN. Documented son of (1) John Combs, Sr., father of the eight." Mistakenly identified by The Combes Genealogy… as a possible son of William and Seth STACY Combs, Sr., brother of John Combs, Sr. (both sons of Mason Combs, Sr. of VA and NC).

III. John Combs of Clay Co, KY, described by The Combes Genealogy… as having "settled near mouth of Line Fork, now Letcher Co., on the Kentucky River." (p. 45)

Ancestry undetermined at this time, but possibly h/o Sarah and s/o the above-noted William and Seth STACY Combs, Sr. Mistakenly identified by The Combes Genealogy… as "one of the eight."

The Combes Genealogy… conflicts itself in regard to the ancestry, marriages and children of (2) and (3) above. While in agreement that John Combs, Sr. was "father of the eight" (brothers) who came early to East Kentucky, the author was undecided about which of two other early John Combs of East Kentucky was the son of John Combs, Sr., and in some instances, whether the son of John Combs, Sr. was one John Combs or two.

In at least two chapters of the manuscript, the author describes two distinct John Combs with two distinct wives and families (Chapter VII, "John Combs, Sire of the "Eight Brothers," p. 45; and Chapter XVI, Some Unidentified Combses, p. 90). Elsewhere in the manuscript, however, these two John Combs and their children were "semi-merged" into a single John Combs (Chapter X, "The Eight Brothers Settle Down," p. 65; and Chapter XXII, General Table, p. 124) with the children of the incorrectly identified John Combs "of the eight" listed as children from a posited first marriage, and a number (varying) of the documented children of RW John “8” Combs listed as children by a posited second marriage to Margaret UNKNOWN.

The Combs Research Report for the family of RW John “8” Combs does not include any of the children from the posited first marriage since neither the marriage or any of the children have been documented. According to The Combes Genealogy…, p. 67, the "first marriage" children were: "Jeremiah ("Long Jerry"), born in Surry County, about 1782; Shadrach, born in the same county, 1784-'85 (Census of 1850); Mason, born probably around Kingsport, Tennessee, (1795-'96 (Census of 1850); Millie; [and] John." On this same page, it is stated that "Millie, a daughter, born in 1802… married, to William SMITH (b. 1800)."

Note: Although the author adds that "The parentage of the above mentioned five children has been established beyond question," the General Table, p. 124, lists only the first four children as issue of the "first marriage" with son, John, listed as the s/o Margaret (issue of the "second marriage"). John is also listed on both pp. 67 and 124 as h/o Rebecca Combs, daughter of Mason Combs (elsewhere identified as Mason “8” and Jane RICHARDSON Combs), but on p. 91, he is listed as John "Jack" Combs, husband of Elizabeth (probably based on the 1850 Owsley Co, KY census). This raises yet another question: Was John Combs who married in 1813, Rebecca Combs the same as John "Jack" Combs, s/o RW John “8” and Margaret Combs, who m 1847, Elizabeth HUNT Williams?

Of the first four children, the author describes them on p. 124 as: "Jeremiah ("Long Jerry"), b. cir. 1781-3.; Shadrach (Shade) b. 1784-85. Lived in Letcher Co.; Mason, m. Matilda WATTS; b. 1795-96. Lived in Breathitt Co.; and Millie, m. William, son of Rev. Richard SMITH."

Whether Jeremiah, Shadrach, Mason, Millie and (possibly) a second John Combs were the children of this third John Combs (John Combs III), or even whether the four were siblings, remains undocumented; however, given that (a) there is no evidence whatsoever that they were the children of RW John “8” Combs, and (b) that some evidence exists that they were not his children (or at least not by an earlier marriage),* only his documented children (all probably by Margaret) have been assigned to the Revolutionary Soldier. FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY, those children claimed to have been from the earlier marriage, have instead been tentatively included here.

*The birth year range for the children of RW John “8” Combs by the "second marriage" is 1782-4 to 1807. The birth year range for the children of John Combs III is 1781-3 to 1802.

As noted above, it appears quite possible that John Combs III was the s/o William and Seth STACY Combs, Sr., in which case, he probably came to Clay Co, KY from Russell Co, VA (research in progress).

The 1807 Clay Co, KY tax list includes two John Combs, one of whom appears to have been John Combs III of Clay, with the other still unidentified (Neither of the two was RW John “8” Combs who was still in Lincoln Co, KY). In 1808, only one John Combs is on the Clay Co, KY tax list, his name on the same page as Shadrick, Mason, Jeremiah and William Combs. The latter was possibly William Combs, Sr., h/o Seth STACY), and at least two of the first three were the posited sons of The Other John Combs (Mason is thought to have been Mason “8” Combs, h/o Jane RICHARDSON). In 1809, Shadrick Combs is missing, and John Combs is listed between William Combs and (one of two) Jeremiah Combs.

The 1810 Clay Co, KY Census includes only one John Combs, listed immediately between Elijah “8” Combs, Sr. and Shade Combs:

p. 153
08 John Combs 21101-01001-00
1 m b pre-1765 [John]
1 f b pre-1765 [Sarah?]
1 m b 1784-1794 [????]
1 m b 1795-1800 [Mason, b abt 1795 per 1850 Breathitt Co, KY Census?]
1 f b 1795-1800 [Millie, b 1796-1802 per census & marriage bond?]
2 m b 1801-1810 [???? & ????]

The above John Combs, b pre-1765, is neither RW John “8” Combs (in Lincoln Co, KY this year), nor John Combs, Sr. (if The Combes Genealogy… is correct in stating that John, Sr. was on the 1810 Floyd Co, KY Census). Immediately following this entry (Line 09) is that of Shade Combs, b 1784- 1794 (but born pre-1788 since he was taxable in 1808), and on line 16 is Will Combs, b pre-1765 (who is not RW William “8” Combs who was on the Casey Co, KY Census in 1810). Note: Jeremiah L. Combs is on the 1810 Floyd Co, KY Census, listed adjacent to John Combs, b pre-1765. John and Jeremiah Combs of Floyd were both also on the 1810 Floyd Co, KY tax list (We do not yet have any other Floyd Co, KY tax lists).

According to The Combes Genealogy…, Chapter VII, amongst the statements made by the author in reference to John Combs III (some of which may have applied to RW John “8” Combs), are: "… The old Land Grants show that he [John] took up land on the North Fork of the Kentucky River, in what is now Letcher County, late in 1816;* that is the year of the survey, but he had probably built his "improver's cabin" on the land several years prior to that date… the next reference to him (Perry Deed Books) is when he buys land at the mouth of Bear Branch, near the mouth of Line Fork, now in Letcher County, in 1831. This, with the fact that his son Shadrach lived later a short distance away might indicate that his patent of 1816 was around the mouth of Line Fork… It is apparent that some time soon after 1831… [John] had moved below Hazard, and was living in the "bend" of the River, on what is now known as the old Joe Brewer place, around the mouth of Meadow Branch…"

*This is apparently the 50 acre Clay Co, KY survey dated 8 Nov 1816.

Although the author states that John died "not far from 1840," he also admits that this date is based on the 1840 Washington Co, KY census record of RW John “8” Combs (who d in 1848 in this county). Since no other elderly John Combs has been located as yet on the 1840 Census, John Combs III was probably already dead. The author adds, apparently based on Oral Family History, that John "…was buried on the opposite side of the River, on the old Matt CRAWFORD place, where Sam Combs now lives (1947). The grave is behind the smoke­house, and a garden covers the spot."*

*Question: Who owned this property pre-1840?

One John Combs is on the 1811 Clay Co, KY tax list (listed between George “8” and Mason “8”), but in 1813 through 1815, two John Combs are listed, one designated Jr. and the other designated Sr. These two John Combs seem likely to have been RW John “8” and his son, John "Jack" based on (a) John "Jack" was b ca 1792, and would have turned 21 in 1813 (per his 1850 Owsley Co, KY Census Record); and (b) several Clay Co, KY marriages that follow over the next few years, beginning with the Dec 1813 marriage of a John Combs to "Becca" (Rebecca) Combs (no bondsman), who were, according to The Combes Genealogy…, John "Jack" s/o RW John “8” Combs and Rebecca, d/o Mason “8” and Jane RICHARDSON Combs.* In 1814, the two John Combs were again listed below George “8” Combs, but this year, a Jeremiah and Shadrach (in that order) are listed below them. In 1816 and 1817, there are still two John Combs on the Clay Co, KY tax list, but neither is designated Jr. or Sr. (In 1817, the two John Combs are entered with a Benjamin and a Jeremiah listed between their names, and a William and Shadrach below).

*In Aug of 1814, Hardin Combs (s/o RW John “8”) m Nancy Combs in Clay Co, KY (according to The Combes Genealogy…, also a d/o Mason and Jane RICHARDSON Combs). In Apr of 1816, Benjamin (s/o RW John “8” Combs) m Jane BROWN.

On 20 Apr 1816 a marriage bond was issued in Floyd Co, KY to William SMITH and Nicholas Combs for a marriage between SMITH and Nelly [sic] Combs. The consent was signed on 19 Apr 1816 by Sarey Combs and witnessed by Jeremiah and Nicholas Combs (Other sources have transcribed her name as Millie Combs and Nellie appears to have been a mistranscription since she is listed as Millie on the 1850 Letcher Co, KY census and in other published transcriptions of the marriage).

William SMITH was the s/o Richard & Elitia Combs Smith, and witness Nicholas Combs was probably either William's uncle or his grandfather (Elitia the d/o Nicholas “8” and Nancy GRIGSBY Combs, Sr.). Presumably, witness Jeremiah Combs was Jeremiah L. Combs, Sr., brother of Millie according to The Combes Genealogy…. This record, of course, not only gives John Combs III a wife named Sarah, but also raises two additional questions: (1) Was John Combs III's last appearance in Clay Co, KY due to his having moved to Floyd? (2) Did Sarah sign this consent as a widow? (3) See also the Jeremiah L. Combs, Sr. Family Research Report re his wife, Nancy, having possibly been the sister of an unidentified Millie Combs. If so, then the possibility must be considered that Millie was not the d/o John Combs III, but was instead Jeremiah's sister-in-law and both Nancy and Millie the daughters of Sarah Combs.*

*Sarah's signing the consent implies that either her husband was already deceased, or out of the area at the time. Further confirming that Milly was not the d/o RW John “8” Combs is the fact that the consent was dated the 19th, and the bond the 20th, and on the latter date, also in Floyd Co, RW John “8” Combs signed his consent for his daughter, Elizabeth, to marry Nicholas Combs, Jr. (s/o Nicholas “8”). According to Adeline BRASHEARS Combs (The Combes Genealogy…), Jeremiah L. "Long" Combs, Sr., m "Nancy, sister of Millie Combs;" i.e., it is possible that two Millie Combs have been confused (or created from) one.

Back in Clay Co, KY, on 13 Dec 1817, a W. M. Combs married Sarah Combs with a John Combs, bondsman. Sarah was the d/o Mason “8” & Jane RICHARDSON Combs; and W. M. was William Combs (not further identified). In 1818, a second William Combs appears on the Clay tax list who may have been this William Combs.

In 1818 in Clay Co, KY, three John Combs are on the tax list, the first with no designation, the second and third John Jr. and Sr. respectively with a William listed above them, Hardin (s/o RW John “8”) between them, and a Byrom (Biram) below. In 1819 in Clay, there are again three John Combs, but this year two are designated Jr. and the third Sr. The first Jr. is listed below Shadrach and a Jeremiah, and above two Williams, and the other two are listed between Nicholas Jr. (s/o Nicholas “8”) and Henry, Jr. (s/o Henry “8” Sr.) The 1820 Clay tax list included only one John Combs (listed above one of the Jeremiahs with no title), and the 1820 Clay census included no John Combs b pre-1776 (the eldest age range in 1820). This John Combs could be John "Jack" based on his age, but the children in the household don't match later ages. If any elderly John Combs was in this census, then he was apparently in a non-Combs HH.

In 1820 in Floyd Co, KY, there is also only one John Combs on the census, and both he and his wife were born pre- 1776, but no one else is in their household (The RW Pension application of RW John “8” Combs indicates he had at least seven women in his household in 1818). The 1820 Floyd Co, KY census included only one John Combs, again in the eldest age category, and presumably he was the John Combs who had died by Dec 1820 (According to The Combes Genealogy, this was John Combs, Sr.).

Also on the 1820 Floyd Co, KY census was:

Line 339 Sally Combs 000100-00001-01
1 f b pre-1776 [Sally]
1 m b 1794-1802 [Mason?]

Line 336 was the entry for Jeremiah L. Combs, Sr., Line 337 the listing for John Combs (b pre-1776) and line 338, a William Combs, b 1776-1794, with two males and one female under age 10 and one female b 1794-1804 (Was he possibly the William M. who married Sarah Combs in 1817 in Clay? Might he have been the male b 1784-1794 in 1810 Clay household of John?).

Later this same year, Perry Co, KY was established from Clay and Floyd, and it appears that all the Combs of 1820 Clay and Floyd lived in the parts of those counties which became Perry in 1821. In 1830, only one elderly John Combs has been located in the Perry Co, KY census, b 1760-1770 with a wife born 1770- 1780, and they "appear" to have been RW John “8” and his wife, Margaret. If so, the Other John Combs has either moved or died, and nothing more is known of him. No elderly Sarah Combs is listed on the 1830 census (page 357, line 11), although an elderly female (b 1750-1760) is included in the household of William and Millie Combs Smith who might be her mother, Sarah. Moreover, in 1840, the Perry County census household of Mason & Matilda WATTS Combs, includes a female, b 1750-1760.

Although The Combes Genealogy… states several times in the manuscript that John Combs (apparently in reference to John Combs III) died in 1840 in Perry, it appears that the author may have "advanced" his death date due to the 1840 census record. This record, however, was apparently the 1840 Washington Co, KY record of RW John “8” Combs (The 1840 Perry Co, KY census includes no John Combs born earlier than 1800, thus it appears that the reference to the 1840 census was to RW John “8” Combs (1840 Washington Co, KY Census). Moreover, the author had stated that John died "not far from 1840…" indicating that he did not, in fact, know when John Combs died.

Food for thought: If the author did not know when John Combs III died, did he know when John Combs, Sr. died? If not, then consideration should be given to the possibility that the Nancy Combs who married 29 Apr 1811, Floyd, might have been Nancy HARDING, widow of John Combs, Sr. (although hardly likely at est. age 86 <g>).

The Children of John Combs III ("by his first wife")
(according to The Combes Genealogy…)

According to The Combes Genealogy…, the children of John Combs "by his first wife" were:

  1. Jeremiah L. "Long" Combs, Sr. (John), b 1780-4, Virginia, d 1843, Perry Co, KY; m (1) bef 1804, Nancy Combs(?)*, b 1784-1791; d bef 1838, probably in Perry KY; m (2) bef 1838, Sarah "Sally" WHITLEY, b ca 1810, VA; d aft 1860, probably in Perry Co, KY.
  2. Shadrach "Old Shade" Combs (John), b ca 1784, in the State of Carolina (probably North), d aft 1850, apparently in Letcher Co, KY.

    • Notes: Shadrach was apparently already widowed in 1850 (Letcher Co, KY) and the name of his wife is not yet known. He first appears on Clay Co, KY tax lists in 1808 (missing in 1807), and by 1810, he had married (he and wife both b 1784-1790) and had one daughter, b 1800-1810, according to the Clay Co, KY Census. He also appears on the 1820 Clay census and both the 1830 and 1840 Perry Co, KY Census enumerations. The Combes Genealogy… adds: "Shadrach (old Shade) patented on the [Kentucky] River in 1815 and 1822, probably in lower Letcher. He owned land on Short Creek and Smoot Creek (Letcher) in the 1840's and has numerous descendants in that county today." He was taxed in Letcher in 1843 for land on Smoot Creek (patented on Sep 1843) and also appears on the 1848 Letcher Co, KY tax list.
      • According to The Combes Genealogy…, Shadrach's children (none documented as yet) were:
        • Polly Ann Combs, b 1806-1810 (per 1850-1870 Perry Census), m. John L. Combs, son of Jeremiah L. "Long" Combs, Sr.
        • Elizabeth Combs, b abt 1810 (per 1850 Perry Census), m. Clinton Combs, s/o Mason & Jane RICHARDSON Combs.
        • Shadrach Combs, Jr., b ca 1812, KY (per 1850 Letcher census)
        • John Wesley Combs, b ca 1815 (per 1850 Letcher census), m. Mary HOGG, dau. of James HOGG
        • George Hacker Combs, b ca 1828 (per 1850 Letcher census)
        • Tipton Combs (not located)
      • The 1820-1840 census enumerations indicate he may have had as many as 14 children. If he named any children Sarah, Mason, Millie or Jeremiah, they have not been identified. He died sometime after 1850. Not known when or where.
  3. Mason Combs (John), b 1795-1796, KY, d 1850-1860, KY, probably in East Kentucky; m bef 1829, Matilda WATTS, b 13 Jun 1805, KY; d 25 Feb 1870, probably in KY.

  4. Millie Combs (John), b 1796-1799, KY, VA or TN; d 1875, Letcher Co, KY; m 20 Apr 1816, Floyd Co, KY, William SMITH (s/o Richard & Elitia Combs Smith), b 1795-1802, TN, d 1876, Letcher Co, KY; both buried Knott Co, KY.
    • Notes: See also the Richard & Elitia Combs Smith Family Research Report and note that William and Millie Combs Smith are also of record in Clay and Perry Cos, KY. Her age and birth location is based on: the 1810 Clay Co, KY Census, b 1795-1800; 1850 Letcher Co., Millie age 48 b. ca 1802, Ky; 1860 Letcher Co., Milly age 65 b. ca 1795, VA; 1870 Letcher Co., Milly age 76 b. ca 1794, Tenn; and fact that she was under 21 in Apr 1816. It may be significant that they named their eldest son, John, and eldest daughter, Sarah. One son was also named Jeremiah, and a daughter, Matilda, may have been named after Matilda WATTS Combs (w/o Mason) who was living adjacent to William and Millie in 1860 in Letcher.
  5. John Combs (John).
    • Notes: The Combes Genealogy… conflicts itself regarding John Combs as a possible son of John Combs III (as vs. RW John “8” Combs). It is possible that each had a son, John, and that one son married Rebecca Combs (d/o Mason & Jane RICHARDSON Combs) and that the other married Elizabeth HUNT Williams (See John "Jack" Combs of Owsley Co, KY, documented son of RW John “8” Combs).
  6. Also Note: A number of "extra" early William Combs are found in the records of East Kentucky, any one of whom might be the son of John Combs (III), particularly if (a) he existed; and/or (b) was the s/o William and Seth STACY Combs, Sr.