Corrected 2 & 17 Mar 1999
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As is the case with all Combs Research Family Reports, when a source is not specifically referenced herein, the source can be found via a "hot link" to the applicable Combs County of Record, Revolutionary War Pension Files, Bible Records, etc.

Winnifred Combs zz(Mason, Sr., John, Archdale), born 14 May 1749, Overwharton Parish, Stafford Co, Virginia; may have d aft 1830 in White Co, TN; m (1) bef 1770, probably in Rowan Co, NC, Tory William RIDGE, Sr. (s/o Thomas RIDGE), b ca 1735, (probably in Spotsylvania Co, VA), d Aug 1780, Battle of Hanging Rock, South Carolina; m (2) 22 Dec 1784, Surry Co, NC (bond), Nathan ALLIN.

Ed Note: Although some might not think it fitting to label the widow of a Tory a "Revolutionary War Heroine," only the heartless would continue to maintain that opinion once they have read her story.

Documenting Winnifred Combs Ridge Allen

Winnifred is documented as a daughter of Mason Combs, Sr. by (a) the Overwharton Parish Register of Stafford Co, VA, which lists her 14 May 1749 birth as: "Winny Combs, daughter of Mason and Sarah Combs," and (b) various depositions in William Ridge's Estate File, a treasure trove of records spanning more than twenty years, and serving not only to document his widow's ancestry and descendants, but numerous other members of the Combs, Cody, Ridge and Stacy families, and more...

In regard to Winnifred, the strongest documents (genealogically) are the 1804 Hawkins Co, TN Deposition of Isabel BACON, and the 1802 Davidson Co, TN deposition of Peter SPENCE, in which each declares that Nicholas Combs was the nephew of William RIDGE (Nicholas was the s/o Winnifred's brother, John Combs, Sr., "father of the eight"). Other depositions also refer to Nicholas Combs and John GOINGS* (as having stolen from William T. LEWIS, Jr.), but the only others to include the relationship of nephew are John P. McCONNELL (1804 Davidson Co, TN) and David SPENCE (1804 Robertson Co, TN), neither of whom name Nicholas, but refer to him only as Combs.

*Several depositions also refer to one John GOINGS as a brother-in-law of William RIDGE, but none specify whether GOINGS was married to a sister of William RIDGE or a sister of Winnifred Combs (Seeking to learn given name of John GOINGS' wife as two daughters of Mason Combs, Sr. remain "lost:" Sarah Combs, b 1744/5 and Wilmot Combs, b 1751).

Numerous of the depositions refer to the CODY, Combs, RIDGE and STACY families as intermarried, and at least two refer to the fact that William RIDGE, Sr. was kin to them all:

The Deposition of Salathiel MARTIN (1806 Claiborne Co, TN) includes the statement that he believed that John, William, Biram and Jeremiah Combs, Thomas, Godfrey and William CODY, and John STACY were all Tories, and all relations of William RIDGE by marriage.* This (excepting only William CODY) was also stated in the deposition of John P. McCONNELL who further declared that Biram Combs had married a "baseborn" (natural) daughter of RIDGE. Others also referred to RIDGE as having been kin to Combs, CODYS and STACYS (although it has not yet been determined how William RIDGE was kin to either the CODYS or STACYS other than their having been in-laws of his wife, Winnifred).

*Of the above: (1) William Combs, Sr. was Winnifred's brother, and h/o Seth STACY. (2) John Combs was either John, Sr., also a brother of Winnifred, or John, Jr., s/o William, Sr. (3) Biram Combs was the s/o John, Sr. and h/o William RIDGE'S daughter. (3) Jeremiah Combs has not yet been identified. (4) William CODY was the h/o Sinai STACY (also a daughter of Simon & Judith TOLSON Stacy). John STACY was brother to Simon STACY (see below).

The Story of Winnifred Combs Ridge Allen

Winnifred "Winny" Combs, born 14 May 1749, in Overwharton Parish, Stafford Co, VA, was still an infant when her father, Mason Combs, Sr., brought his family from Stafford Co, VA to Frederick Co, VA shortly after 1751, and she probably spent most of her childhood in the latter county. At some point between 1763 and 1768, however, Mason moved yet again, and in 1768, he appears on the Rowan Co, NC tax list of Gideon WRIGHT, as do Winnifred's brother, William Combs, Sr. (m Seth STACY); her brother-in-law, Benjamin STACY (m Ann Combs); William CODY (m Sinai STACY); and William RIDGE, Sr.*

*Seth, Benjamin and Sinai STACY were all children of Simon & Judith TOLSON Stacy, Sr., also of Stafford and Frederick Cos, VA, and Rowan Co, NC, and long-time "migratory partners" of the Combs of those counties. In 1772, Surry Co, NC was established from part of Rowan, and Surry Land entries and deeds indicate that among those with land on Camp Creek, Mitchell River (in Surry Co, NC, but close to the Wilkes County line) in the 1770s and 1780s included not only the same individuals named above, but also John FIELDER, the LEWIS Family, Thomas PETTIT (second husband of Judith TOLSON Stacy) and by 1785, Winnifred's second husband, Nathaniel ALLEN.

Winnifred had married William RIDGE, Sr. before 1770 (based on ages of their six children), probably in Rowan, and their life was likely pleasant and prosperous during the early years of their marriage. Even after war was declared, and the Cody, Combs, Ridge and Stacy Families determined to stand by the British, the families probably had few concerns since North Carolina was a "Tory hot bed." (1) By 1780, however, when RIDGE marched off to his death at the Battle of Hanging Rock, the tides of war had already began to turn, and his death was definitely a case of "bad timing" - not only for himself, but for his widow and children. He had been a man of substance, but as a Tory, all of his property, both real and personal, was subject to confiscation, and a series of hurried machinations involving John FIELDER, Jr. (m Winnifred's step-daughter, Nancy RIDGE) and William Terrell LEWIS, among others, were undertaken, involving transfers of personal property, including slaves.

William and Winnifred's six children (Mary, Elizabeth, Seth, William, Jr., Thomas and Winnifred) were all minors, and following his death, Winnifred's father, Mason Combs, Sr., was one of the security for their guardianship. The deposition of Patience JONES (1804 Davidson Co, TN) refers to an occasion when Mrs. RIDGE (Winnifred Combs) was at the house of "old Mason Combs." Others of her family members and neighbors also stepped forward to help, including the (infamous?) William Terrell LEWIS, or at least so he claimed (See John FIELDER Deposition).

On 22 Dec 1784 in Surry Co, North Carolina, Winnifred re-married (bond), to Nathan ALLEN (a.k.a. ALLIN), Silvanus PIPES Nathan's bondsman. Shortly thereafter, her new husband assumed guardianship of all six of her RIDGE children as well as administration of the RIDGE estate, and on 6 Aug 1785, Nathan ALLIN also purchased property at Camp Creek of the Mitchell River in Surry, 400 acres that was adjacent to Thomas PETTIT, step-son of Judith TOLSON Stacy.

Although the situation may have appeared to be idyllic, that was apparently not the case. If their marriage was ever idyllic, it was not so for long. By May 1786, the RIDGES were back in court, with Winnifred's elder daughters, Mary and Elizabeth selecting new guardians, William COOK and Jonathan HAINES.* Among the securities for COOK and HAINES was Henry SPEARS, whom Winnifred had possibly known since early childhood in Frederick Co, VA.

*Since Mary and Elizabeth were still underage, they were born after 1764 (between 1765-1771). Since the younger two children still were not choosing their own guardians, all were born after 1772).

By August 1786, Winnifred was again summoned to Surry Court yet again, both in regard to estate matters as well guardianship concerns, the apparent result of Nathan ALLEN having mismanaged her estate. In a deposition she gave on 29 Aug 1792 in Surry, Winnifred stated:

"...sometime after I married to ALLEN he became a guardian to my children and he conducted himself so bad that he got in debt and made very little to support the family with that he sold & destroyed the chief of what estate I had in my hands of my husbands estate, and carried it away together the articles as near as I can remember as he made way with are these following, one horse four heads of grown cattle, eleven head of sheep, some hogs, in the whole to the value of thirty five or £ 40 in my judgement. And then he run away and left me as bare and as poor as well could be of anything to live on and then Wm T. LEWIS in a short time got Cate and her children from me.. as to the fellow Jack[,] Wm T. LEWIS was trying to get him and had him executed once for £15 that he had got against me and myself and children were afraid that LEWIS would get him into his hands, and we being destitute of any house or home agreed to let him go for a piece of land and plantation that we might have a house and home to live on, bargained away by Wm COOK one of the guardians and myself with the consent of my children, as to any thing I have done contrary to my childrens interest of myself I deny, but what has been done by ALLEN I could not help it as I am but a woman..."

Following ALLEN'S departure, William COOK and Jonathan HAINES, as guardians of the orphans of William RIDGE, sued William T. LEWIS, Jr. and won, with judgment awarded by Aug 1791 when LEWIS provided receipts* to the court (Surry WB2:184a). Immediately thereafter, William COOK spent 150 pounds of the monies on behalf of Winnifred's sons, William, Jr. and Thomas, in the form of the purchase of 200 acres on the south side of the Yadkin River "opposite the mouth of Fishers River" (Surry NC DBE:143) *Negro Jack.

It is not yet known what happened to the land which Nathan ALLEN had purchased (possibly lost back to Lewis?), but it appears that (if the same), he had not run far, since the records of the Yadkin River Baptist Church (in now-Caldwell Co), North Carolina, include the statement that in August 1790, one Nathan ALLIN was "received by experience."

Note: It is not yet known if this was the same Nathan ALLEN who was h/o of Winnifred Combs Ridge, but one month later, in Sep 1790, one Elizabeth STASY left the church in "disorder" (not yet identified).

The children of William and Winnifred Combs Ridge are documented by both >Surry Co, NC Guardian Bonds and numerous depositions in the William RIDGE Estate File.

The May 1792 Surry Co, NC deposition of Jonathan HAINES lists the children of William and Winnifred, all then residing in Salisbury District, NC, as follows:

i. Mary RIDGE: twenty years or thereabouts [b ca 1772]
ii. Elizabeth RIDGE: Eighteen years or thereabouts b ca 1774]
iii. Sythe RIDGE: sixteen years or thereabouts [b ca 1776]
iv. William RIDGE: fourteen years or thereabouts [b ca 1778]
v. Thomas RIDGE: twelve years or thereabouts [b ca 1780]
vi. Winneford RIDGE: ten years or thereabouts [b ca 1782]

Clearly, these dates can't all be accurate since William RIDGE d in Aug 1780. It is known that Mary and Elizabeth were born 1766-1771 since they were both 14-19 in 1785 (1785 and 1786 Surry NC Guardian Bonds). It is known that Seth, William, Thomas and Winnifred were born 1773-1780 since they were all still under 14 in 1786 (ibid.).

According to a deposition made by William Terrill LEWIS in Surry undated, but labeled 1792, and in response to the 1792 deposition of Jonathan HAINES, he states in reference to RIDGE'S estate that "The money recovered from this defendant for KATE & her children has as this defendant has also been informed divided betweeen the Complainats the daughters & when delviered to him or kept by said [William] COOK for their use, Mary, Elizabeth and Sythe being of age have rec'd their parts..."

The Oct 1792 deposition of William COOK, however, does not state that they are of age, but that he "let the three eldest girls have about forty pounds a piece which have enabled them to live and tend their own Plantation and make corn for themselves, that they are now able to live like their neighbours... "

It is assumed, despite the discrepancies, that HAINES at least knew the children well enough to know their birth order, and that Mary was close to her majority in 1792, thus a more accurate estimate of their ages would be: Mary, abt 1770; Elizabeth, abt 1771; Seth, 1773-1777, William, 1774-1778, Thomas, 1775-1779 and Winnifred, 1776-1780.

Winnifred and her children apparently resided in Surry Co, NC until at least 17 Feb 1797 when her son, William RIDGE, Jr., m in that county, Sarah, d/o Richard HORN. By 1808 at the latest (and probably earlier), William Jr., Thomas, Mary, and Sitha RIDGE (neither Winnifred nor daughters, Elizabeth and Winnifred, Jr., were mentioned) were residing in White Co, TN (Lewis Deposition Notices)

No more is known as yet of Elizabeth and Winnifred, Jr. after 1792, nor of Mary and Sitha RIDGE after 1808, but Thomas RIDGE is seen in White Co, TN records with his brother, now-Capt. William RIDGE (Jr.), who was apparently well-to-do, and engaged in numerous land transactions, not only in White Co, TN, but in Jackson, Bledsoe, Overton and other TN counties.

In Jackson Co, TN, William RIDGE, Jr. is found with land on Caney Fork that is adjacent to that of Martin & Sarah Combs Johnson, her ancestry unknown, but closely associated with (Winnifred's brother?) Mason Combs, Jr. of Hawkins Co, TN.

This Jackson land may be the only evidence of contact between the Combs and Ridge families found subsequent to the death of Winnifred's father in 1784-5 in Surry. Winnifred herself is not found in any records after 1792, and it is not yet known when and where she died; however, it is possible that (a) she had a son, Nathaniel, by Nathan ALLEN, and (b) was living in his 1830 Jackson Co, TN census household.

Important! This last is Totally Speculative, but being actively researched since Nathaniel ALLEN'S household included: 1 male born 1790-1799; 1 male born 1815-1819; 1 male born 1820-1824; 1 female born 1800-1809; 1 female born 1825-1830, and 1 female born 1750-1759.