The Combes Genealogy… by Josiah H. Combs
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Introduction [Part 2]


One of his sons, also named Marquis, married Gen. Leslie Combs' aunt. There have been a number of Marcus (Or Marquis C.) Combses in central Kentucky. "Danger Nick" Combs, a son of old Mason, and an uncle of Mason of the eight brothers, and who married in old Frederick [Co VA], named one of his sons Jeremiah C. ("Chunky Jerry"). "Chunky" was born in 1780-1781. Justice Marquis Calmes came from Williamsburg [York Co, VA] and settled on the lower Shenandoah, in Old Frederick (now Clarke) near Millwood [then Frederick, now Clarke Co, VA]; the location is several miles below Riverton, in Warren [Co, then Frederick Co. VA], where Mason Combs lived. (His family is sketched later, under Joseph of Stafford). (1)

.....The best guess for the initial S. is that it stands for Shelby. Isaac Shelby was a very conspicuous gentleman in the Holston River country of Tennessee, one of the heroes of King's Mountain, and active in the attempt leading up to and culminating in the abortive "State of Franklin". He came over to Kentucky and became the first governor of that State.

.....The name Jeremiah came into the family at the clost [close] of the Revolution, and at once became one of the commonest names for boys. It was in the days of the great Bishop Asbury, of the Methodist Church; religious revivals were shaking the entire Southern mountains. Under Bishop Asbury there rode forth a hard-hitting circuit rider, Jeremiah Lambert, in charge of the Holston Circuit, in the 1780's;  an equally redoubtable rider, Jeremiah Martin, was in charge of the Nolachucky Circuit at the same time. These crusading churchmen roamed far and wide over parts of three states: eastern Tennessee, Southwestern Virginia and western North Carolina. At this time "Danger Nick" Combs and some of the "eight brothers" were living on the South Fork of the Holston, around Kingsport [Sullivan or Hawkins Co TN]. Some of them were apparently moved by the Spirit, for pretty soon we find "Danger Nick", Henry (Harrison), John and some of their children, giving their sons Biblical names: Aaron, Enoch, Nathan, Moses, Wesley, Matthew, Isaac, Shadrach, etc., as well as Jeremiah. (2)

.....The aforesaid religious fervor mounted to even higher voltage about the turn of the century, when the irresistible Lorenzo Dow burst upon the scene. Dow was an independent, non-association, non-conference, free-lance Methodist, a Connecticut Yankee come evangelizing into the Southern mountains in the late 1790's. Caustically referring to the dogmas of his more conservative colleagues, he outdid himself when he cracked: "You can and you can't - You shall and you shan't - You will and you won't - and you will be damned if you do - and you will be damned if you don't". It was in the days of the "Great Revival", the reign of emotional disturbance and


the "jerks", and Lorenzo ranged far and wide. He invaded central Kentucky in 1803, and late in the summer of the same year, passed up the Kentucky River on his way to Abingdon [Washington Co], Va. "Long Jerry" Combs had just married, and "Bird-Eye Nick" Combs a little later. Enter, then: all the L.D.'s, Lorenzo Dows, Lorenzy Dows, Lourenzo Dows, Lourenzy Dows, Lorenzos, Lourenzos, Lorenzas and Lorenzys, and even Lou, for short. (3)

.....Massingill (usually shortened to Mart) is a strange-sounding name; there is however nothing mysterious about it. It is a well known old family name in England. In the family of Mason Combs (one of the "eight") it is common. Mason was living on the Holston, in the "State of Franklin" [TN], when one prominent gentleman, named William Massingill, signed a petition addressed to the General Assembly of North Carolina, in 1787. Col. William Preston and Isaac Shelby were also in the "State of Franklin", before Shelby came to Kentucky. Mason named one of his sons Preston. A few years before, or in 1780, Col. Preston was County Lieutenant of Montgomery County, Virginia, and some of our Combses over there on the New River probably knew him. It was in this same year that Indians attacked and wiped out a family of Roarks, between the headwaters of the Clinch and Big Sandy Rivers; several years later Sallie Roark married "Gen." 'Lige Combs, in Montgomery [Co VA]. Old Mason went strong on the Army "brass-hats". Others of his sons were: Washington, Clinton (named for Gen. Clinton), and Tarleton, named for the notorious Col. Tarleston [Tarleton], of the British Army! Also "Boney" for Napoleon Bonaparte. I have no explanation for such a name as Elhanon among the Combses. Remines comes from a family of the same name in Dickenson County, Virginia, later in Perry County, Ky. (4)

.....Girls' names in my family, some of them also found in other Combs families in central Kentucky, have a sonorous, as well as a Classical flavor. I note Amanda (Manda), Armelda (Melda), Arminda (Minda), Arminta (Minta), Arinda (Rinda), Thehana, or Bethanie, Candesta (Desta), Calista, Clarinda, Clerinda, Clementina (Tina), Delphia, Diana, Dulcinea, Isabel(le), Leana, Letitia (Tish), Larcena, Lourania, Loodicea (Dicie), Malvina, or Melvina (Vina), Mahala, Minerva (Nerva), Parthenia, Paulina (Perlina, etc.), Pernelty, Pa(r)melia, Rusia (Pro. Rooshia), Sabrina, Surrilda, Lavinia (Vina), Malinda (Len).

.....The names John, Jeremiah (Jerry), Nicholas (Nick), and a few others, like Joseph and Benjamin among the descendants of Joseph, of Stafford Co., Va., have caused confusion, because there are so many of them. It became necessary at an early date to give them


nicknames; and so, we have "Danger Nick", "Bird-Eye Nick", "Squire Nick", "Shanghai Nick", etc. "Chunky Jerry", "Long Jerry", "Short Jerry", "Rebel Jerry", "Yankee Jerry", "Free Jerry", "Loose Jerry", "Round Jerry", "Curly Jerry", "Tight Jerry", "Slow Jerry", "Young Jerry", "Ram Jerry", "Beet-Nose Jerry", and others. There are numerous Isaacs among the descendants of old Henry (Harrison) Combs. These Isaacs have also been identified by their nicknames. One of them was called "Shootin' Ike". Another, a son of old William Mason Combs, of Breathitt Co. [KY], had the longest given-name I have yet discovered among any of the Combses in Virginia or Kentucky: Isaac Washington Morgan Beauregard. He was over six feet tall, and they called him Ike, for short.

.....From all this, as well as nicknames for still other Christian names, the necessity for distinguishing families, or "sets", becomes obvious. Thus we have: the "Dangers", or "Danger" set; the "Tights", or "Tight" set; the "Hacker" set, etc. Old "Danger Nick" was a Tory, or British sympathizer during the Revolution. He was sometimes referred to as "Nick, the Tory". It is not true that they called him "Danger" because of his Tory sympathies, but rather because of his quick, fiery, dangerous temper. One of his grandsons, Andrew, explains this, in Dickey's diary.

.....COMBS CHARACTERISTICS, PROFESSIONS, RELIGION, ETC. One sometimes hears something like this: "Yes, he's a Combs, all right; he has the Combs look, bearing, manner, build", etc. Such things are heard even when there is absolutely no relationship in question. The assumption of relationship is usually erroneous, since certain physical or physiognomic (or even mental) characteristics which may be noticeable in any individual family usually tend to disappear after a generation or two. There is, however, in my line, at least one distinguishing mark: that of stubborness [sic], and individuality. My set has always been pretty "sot" in its ways.

.....The Combses in Colonial Virginia, and later, those in Kentucky - in the Highlands, the Bluegrass, Nelson County [KY] and elsewhere, have always been large land owners. Until recent years, my line has not gone in much for public life and the professions. It has been a family of pioneers, exploring, settling, and under the heavy pressure of civilization, shoving off to more distant parts. Its chief professions at present are those of the law and medicine. Among my Combs correspondents and acquaintances over the country there are numerous lawyers and doctors. In the field of religion, among those "drawing out the thread of their verbosity finer than the staple of their argument", only one has achieved any measure of nationwide promi-


nence: A Campbellite preacher in Kansas City [Clay or Jackson Co], Missouri. There have been numerous Combses in the profession of education over the country. Here are some of them:

Gilbert Raynolds Combs, late head of the Broad Street Conservatory of Music, Philadelphia [Philadelphia Co, PA]; (5)

Dr. Morgan Laffayette Combs, President of Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia, Fredericksburg [Spotsylvania Co], Va.;

Miss Irene Combs, President of the Mississippi State Normal College, Hattiesburg, [Forrest Co] Miss.;

Dr. Wm. Hobart Combs, Professor of History and Government, Michigan State College;

Professor W.B. Combs, College of Agriculture, University of Minnesota; (6)

Dr. Homer C. Combs, Washington University, St. Louis [MO];

Dr. Josiah H. Combs, Head of the Department of Foreign Languages, Texas Christian University, Professor of French, Mary Washington College [VA].

A. B. Combs, State Department of Education, North Carolina;

Dr. C. Murphy Combs, Medical School of Northwestern University ;

Dr. Eugene Elmer Combs, University of Missouri.

Two members of the tribe, in general, have gone to Congress: Geo. H. Combs, Jr., Missouri; J.M. Combs, a lawyer of Beumont [Beaumont] [Jefferson Co], Texas, representing the Second Congressional District.

.....As far as is known, most of the early Virginia Combses were communicants of the Established Church, or Church of England; that is, wherever they "communicated" at all. The early parish and church records (in Virginia) do not indicate that Combses were strong in any religious faith whatever; indeed, their names hardly appear in such records. In the latter half of the eighteenth century, Joseph Combs, of Loudon [Loudoun] County [VA], was a vestryman in Shelbourne Parish; but this does not indicate that he was necessarily a religious man, since the office was also a civil one. But once my people found themselves on the Holston (eastern Tennessee), and later, in Kentucky, many of them became Methodists, under the influence of the Methodist circuit riders. In the past, plug-hatted, tight-pants-fitting Mormon spellbinders were wont to come hoofing it on religious forays into the Southern Highlands; but almost no neophytes fell for their palaver. Nor have the Adventists, Zionists, Christian Scientists and other pathogenic-isms made any headway among the sturdy men of the Highlands.

.....I have been speaking largely of my own line and its forebears. Contrary to popular belief, all Maryland Combses were not Catholics; nor were all Nelson County [KY], northern and western Kentucky Combses of that faith. In Maryland there were sometimes numerous Combses of both faiths, in the same county. There were a number of


Protestant Combs families even among the early Nelson County [KY] families.

.....COMBSES IN THE REVOLUTION. The roster of Combs Revolutionary veterans in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina (and later in Kentucky) is considerable. Owing to faulty, inadequate records, and a dearth of them, the veterans are difficult to identify, that is, all of them except by way of tradition and family histories. Many of them migrated to States other than Kentucky: to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Georgia. But it is known that some of them were of my line, some of the Clark County [KY] line, and some of the Nelson County [KY] families. In 1884 a Congressional committee was asked to make a report on Revolutionary veterans. It reported that, even at that late date, there were five hundred of them living in the mountains of Kentucky alone.

.....Only three or four of the "eight brothers" were born early enough to have served in the Revolution; two of these, John, my great-great- grandfather, and William, are known to have seen service. Henry, George and William appear in the Revolutionary records of North Carolina, but it is not known that any of them are identical with three of the same names among the brothers. This William may have been John's uncle. Family tradition says that old John, father of the brothers, was in the Revolution; that is quite probable, since the records of the Adjutant General's office, War Department, Washington, show that one John Combs was serving (in 1776) in the same regiment and the same company as those of the above mentioned John, who enlisted January 1, 1777. The same regiment and company were at Valley Forge [PA]. Norris Keith Combs, one of my nephews, had at least three Revolutionary ancestors named John Combs.

.....Mason Combs, Jr., saw service in North Carolina; he was an uncle of the "eight brothers". Old John S., "Danger Nick's" grandson, says (Dickey Diary) that "several" of his ("Danger's") brothers were in the Revolution. "Danger" had four brothers: John, Josiah, William, Mason, Jr. Josiah was in the Frederick [VA] militia in 1758, French and Indian War, and may have been in the Revolution: also William. Mason, of the "brothers", was undoubtadly e [undoubtedly a] pacifist; more about this, later. The Clark County [KY] families were in the Revolution in a big way, a number of them having been officers in the Continental Army, in Virginia. (7)

.....Certain peculiarities of speech have been common in my line in the Kentucky Highlands, also snatches of old ditties and songs, things which I have not remarked in other families. My grandfather,


William L. Combs, married a Kelley, a sister of old "Uncle Bole" (Wash.), and some of these speech habits may have come from that source. Uncle Bole and Peggy spoke with a Hibernian accent, and their father must have come directly from Ireland. Among my uncles, aunts and cousins I used to hear such intensive expressions as: "I know. I know." "I just know!" "I feel to know!" "I know, in reason!" A "patchitoler" was a cat. A flip-and- go-Jinny" was a noisy woman.

.....THE FIRST COMBSES IN KENTUCKY. The first Combses to come over the mountains and into the great wilderness of Kentucky were not John and Nicholas and their families. It is not known for sure who the first one was. Benjamin, Cuthbert, Ennis and Joseph, sons of John of Stafford [Co, VA], and second cousins of the "eight brothers", came to what is now Clark County [KY], in May, 1775. This same year we find a Mrs. William (Jane) Coomes at Ford Harrod (Harrodsburg) [then Lincoln, now Mercer Co, KY]. She is supposed to have been the wife of William Coomes, mentioned at Harrodsburg the following year. As far as we know, Mrs. Coomes was the first school teacher in Kentucky. She was a Catholic. At Harrodsburg, Kentucky, October 13, 1935, she was honored by the International Confederation of Catholic Alumnae (Kentucky Chapter), where a tablet was unveiled to her, in replica of her little hewn log schoolhouse. At this gathering twenty-one people named Coomes were present. The records indicate that Mrs. Coomes was of a Maryland Catholic family. There is record of a William Combs at Cave Spring [then Nelson, now Breckinridge Co, KY], on Salt River, in 1778. The Catholic Combs center of Kentucky is, or was, Nelson County. But Protestant Combses are also numerous in that County. It is as well to mention here that among the early families on the upper Kentucky River, in the mountains, are the following: Combs, Campbell, Caudill, Cornett, Amburgey, Couch, Eversole, Grigsby, Jent, Jett, Stacey and Williams. (8)

.....ON THE ORIGINS OF FAMILY NAMES: Later on in this work I discuss the origin of the name COMBS, first as a common noun, and later on as a family name, in Europe. For the uninitiated I append some remarks (not all original) concerning the origin of family or surnames. In general the ancient Greeks bore only one name, corresponding somewhat to a given name. A boy was usually named for his grandsire, and sometimes for his father. A girl was usually named for her grandmother, sometimes for her mother. The Jews and early Christians had only one name, a given name. In some countries the Jews have adopted family names only during the past century. The ancient, upper class Romans had a magnificient [magnificent] system of names. The Roman had a praenomen, which was a first or given name, for 


example, such as Caius; following that, a nomen, which was a gens, clan or tribal name, corresponding somewhat to our family name, such as Julius. For various causes or reasons a third, or cognomen was usually added later to a man's name, for example, Caesar. Thus (Gaius) Julius Caesar. In our English way we would call him a Julius, just as we say a Smith, and we would refer to his clan as the Juliuses, or the Julian clan. But the Romans called him Caesar, and we refer to the Caesars, and look upon the word as a family name, which it is not. (The Caesars were simply a branch of the Julian family). That is why we have come to apply the word cognomen to our family names. Among the Romans the cognomen was adopted often because of some physical or mental characteristic, military glory, and so on. Thus we have: Quintus Horatius Flaccus, or "Flop-Eared" Quintus Horatius; Marcus Tullius Cicero, or Marcus Tullius "The Wart" - cicer meaning a chick pea; Cicero had a wart on his face, about the size of a chick pea.

.....Sometimes a fourth name, a sort of honorary title was added, such as in Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (because of his victories in Africa). In speaking of Roman celebrities we do not always call them by their third names, or cognomens, such as the Caesars, or Ciceros; sometimese [sometimes] are known by their second or clan or famly [family] names, such as Horace or Vergil (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, Publius vergilius Maro.) A Roman woman had only one name, as a rule, and it was usually the feminine form of her father's clan or family name, or that of her husband's family name. For example: Julia, from the family of Julius, and Cornelia, from the family of Cornelius.

.....Came then, with the fall of the Empire, the reactionary influence of the early Church. Single, Bible names, and names from Church history and the saints supplanted the fine system of Roman names. Out, then, such logical names as Caius Julius Caesar, Marcus Tullius Cicero, and the rest. For seven hundred years and more people all over southern and western Europe had to struggle along with a single, first, or given name. To be sure, the "Barbarians" had single names. But they were more colorful and full of meaning than the limited Bible names which the Christians palmed off on Europe.

.....Thus, the confusion due to a lack of surnames must have been something frightful during most of the Middle Ages. Sometimes in a single family a number of children would bear the same name! S. Baring-Gould, in his Family Names and Their Story, speaks of a petty German king, who, in the late Middle Ages, had six or eight sons named William. Mr. H.L. Mencken, in his The American Language, notes from the will of one John Parnell de Gyrton (1545): "Alice, my 


wife, and Olde John, my son, shall have Brenlay's land." (It was hard to get out of the habit, even after surnames came in.)

.....The Welsh, for a long time (and possibly yet) had a sort of prefix, or patronymic, ap (son of) to avoid confusion. Baring-Gould quotes a seventeenth century wag's definition of cheese, as a Welshman might have done it:

....."Adam's own cousin-german by its birth,


Baring-Guld also tells the story of an Englishman who was riding at night in Wales, and who heard some one crying out down in a ravine: "Help, master! help!" "Who are you?" asked the Englishman. Came the reply: "Jenkin-ap-Griffith-ap-Robin-ap-William-ap-Reese-ap-Evan". Said the Englishman as he rode on, "Lazy fellows that ye be, to lie rolling in that hole, half a dozen of ye; why, in the name of common sense, don't ye help one another out?"

.....Our Celtic and Saxon forebears had various ways to avoid confusion in families. The familiar O', Mac, - son and -ing are well known among the Irish, Scotch and English as patronymic prefixes and suffixes. They make up about two thousand of our cognomens. It is estimated that, all in all, there must be around forty thousand surnames in our language.

.....The Church, officially, still refuses to sanction family names. Popes, bishops and archbishops still bear one name; kings, queens and princes bear only one name. Nobody is supposed to say "George Windsor", but George VI. The Church of England baptized and christened him George, and George he remains, like all his royal ancestors. Yes, in the Roman Catholic Church, and in most of the Protestant Churches, one is always baptized simply as John, Mary, etc.

.....But the laity, after going nameless (as to family names) for centuries, finally began to throw off this ecclesiastical stupidity. Signs of change sprang up as early as the late tenth century, as distinctive appelations [sic] to describe physical and moral qualities, habits, professions, etc. added, of course, for purposes of identification. The habit had already begun in France by the time of William the Conqueror. After the Conquest (1066) it began to take root in England. But in France the secondary title or cognomen was used chiefly among the nobility, which had come to recognize it as a distinguishing mark of people of consequence: the title was a boast of power, or of the possession of estates, etc. It was not necessarily hereditary.


.....The Normans added impetus to the habit in England, and in time there was a mad scramble to adopt family names. But it was some time before what we know as genuine, family names became a fixed custom among all the people. By the early twelfth century it is evident that a man of prominence, wealth or power was supposed to carry a family name, or some sort of secondary title. There is a story that Henry I (1068-1135), son of William the Conqueror, proposed to have his "royal bastard son", Robert, marry Mabel, daughter of one Sir Robert Fitzhamon. But Mabel balked at the proposition, since the natural son, Robert, had no secondary title, or family name. (England and France were full of such offsprings [offspring]  in those days). According to a metrical romance of the time, the doughty damsel replies to the king:

"So vair eritage as ich abbe it were me gret ssame vor to abbe an louerd bote he adde an toname."

("So fair a heritage as I have, it were to me great shame For to have a lord unless he had a family name.")

.....Then the king:

". . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . thous seist well in this cas, Sire Robertd le fiz haym thi fader tuo name was, And as vair tuo name he ssal abbe."

(". . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . you see well in this case; Sir Robert Fitzhamon, your father, had two names, And it is fair that he (my son) two names shall have").

And so the king gave him the family name of Fitzroy (Son of the King). Incidentally, the name Fitzhamon is a patronymic (Son of Hamon), Fitz being an English corruption of the French fils, son.

.....Family names were pretty well along by the thirteenth century, especially among the upper classes. But they may be said to have become common only after the age of Chaucer. This does not mean that everybody adopted surnames, even as late as the fifteenth century. Gentlemen of the cloth, and all those closely affiliated with the Church persistently pooh-poohed surnames. English history and literature are full of examples. Geoffrey of Monmouth (died c. 1154);Layamon (Laweman), the son of Leuca, author of Brut (c. 1250); Robert of Gloucester wrote late in the thirteenth century; William of Shoreham wrote in the first quarter of the fourteenth centur; John of Trevisa died about 1413. The Protestant Reformation (sixteenth century) in England was a sad blow to Bible given names. Since that event great freedom has been exercised in the bestowing of praeno-


mens. In America this freedom has tobogganed off into license of late, with but scant regard for taste and common sense. Girls sometimes carry boys' names, and boys may bear girls' names. Onomastic mayhem is all too frequently perpetrated upon considerations of distinction in gender. A late governor of the he-man State of Kentucky bears the effeminate name of Ruby Laffoon! A few years ago there was a girl student in Texas Christian University named Jesse James Outlaw (her family name was Outlaw)! Outlaw as a surname, is bad enough; her parents "done her dirt" by casting additional stigma upon her already unsavory name. Among the girl students there was a whole bevy of "Billies", "Billyes", "Willies", etc. Many of these cuties bear affected, double names, such as Billye Jo, Mary Bob, and so on.

.....The habit has also taken on among the boys, for the fond mama thinks it's just too cute for anything, this double name stuff. (I refer to the habit of calling them by double names, in every-day speech.) I hope all these softies succeed when they get out into this cruel world, on their own; they will have to stand on tiptoe to chin their obligations. Oh, yes, and in certain affected families, families with long bank rolls and short family records, families with no traditions to fall back upon save the lucky accumulation of wealth, we may behold a pseudo-smacking of nobility in such stuff as Alastir I, Alastir II, and Alastir III. Within a few more generations this sham refinement in family nomenclature is destined to become pretty cumbersome in some families. (Additional details as to the origin of family names will be found later on in this work).

.....SOME FINAL REGRETS. The primary aim of this work was the compilation of a family history. I hope, therefore, to be pardoned for talking so much about my line of the family, also about other things which may, in a sense, be considered digressions. Members of the Clan of COMBS may now be found in every State in the Union. I regret that it has been impossible to consider more lines; for that task, an encyclopedia would be necessary, and one would have to live a number of lives to accomplish such a task. My story in the New World begins in Tidewater Virginia, and I must of necessity concern myself principally with my own family, and a few collateral families. I am sorry that I am not able to include more lines, Catholic and Protestant, in northern and western Kentucky.

.....I hope that the data presented herewith may enable most of the Combses in the Kentucky mountains, central Kentucky, in northern and western Kentucky and in western Virginia, to draw a bead on the origins of their families. I have not listed all the children and


grandchildren of my cousins; family data have been brought down to a date so recent as to obviate that necessity. No apology is offered for the bold task which I have undertaken, since I descend, through both parents from one of the "eight brothers" and, through my mother, from "Danger Nick" Combs; also, among my brothers and sisters I am the only one to have been born in Hazard, Perry County, Kentucky, the "Combs capital of the world". I am also the only boy in the family to bear one of the old Combs names, a name which comes down from Josiah Mason, (King George), of Stafford County, Virginia.

.....After some observations and generalizations already made, and a survey of some comparative philology bearing on the name COMBS, my detective story will begin. And a detective story it is. Tracing a family back through four hundred years is no easy task: it involves an investigation into history, geography, topography and thousands of records, documents, etc., etc.; in the present case, one is led into London, and a number of English counties, and into various States and counties in America. County histories and family histories have been looked into; old family Bibles, and diaries have been dusted off and examined; hundreds of individuals have been interviewed by myself, and by others during the past fifty years.

.....In this little story of detection, I have tried (with the help of some able collaborators) to carefully scrutinize the background, characters and plot. The characters are confusing, here and there, because of a never-ending repetition of given-names in families, and a lack of adequate data bearing upon them; and because of scant attention to women in the early records. The plot, to be sure, is the crux of the whole matter: which might be defined, here, as an unbroken, four century chain, all of whose links are present and accounted for. Now, most unfortunately, the records extant do not permit the forging of a totally unbroken chain. Under such circumstances, one must, wherever feasible, call a sort of "presumptive evidence" to the witness stand. That may appear in divers shapes and guises: names, dates, localities - and family traditions. Family traditions are not to be scoffed at, if they come from the right sources, if they are old enough, if they are persistent enough.

.....Any member of any family "clan" who sets out to trace his family history may easily fall into the error of formulating certain pet theories; then, of trying to make certain facts conform to his theory, or theories. He should, of course, see to it that his theory conforms to the facts. Most family histories that attempt to look far back into [the] past are replete with conclusion-jumping. Looking into some of them, one may discover some remarkable, bioligical [biological] phenomena: peo-


ple getting themselves married before they were born; men and women marrying before they reach their teens; children older than their parents; brother marrying sister, or even mother, etc.; pure carelessness and lack of accurate observation and research.

.....The history of the formation of certain counties and parishes, and their exact limits in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Virginia have caused much confusion. In those days the records were stated sometimes in terms of a parish, sometimes in terms of a county. The exact limits of both were none too certain, and changes were made from time to time. Some vestry records might include (in a parish) parts of two or more counties. No wonder, then, that the hapless amateur genealogist may have a man living in two or three different counties at the same time; or that he may kill him off even before he is born.

.....It is a matter of small import to me, as to whether my Colonial ancestor came to Jamestown [James City/County, VA], or to Old Rappahannock [Co, VA]. Most certainly, it was one or the other. However, certain related facts point to Jamestown [VA], and I shall look in that direction, hoping that the conclusion reached may appear as logical and as convincing to you as it does to me. At any rate, all members of my "clan" may easily agree upon one salient point: that JOHN COMBS was born, somewhere, at an early date, and of mixed parentage!



All those Combses of the past: from whose eyes the twinkle has vanished, from whose cheeks and lips the fresh color of life has sped, whose voices are heard only in the wailing winds and the surging tides, whose bodies have returned to the bosom of Mother Earth - but not totally forgotten.


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Introduction [Part 1]
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List of Photographs, p. xxx

To "The Combes Genealogy," Full Name/Location Index
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