Major Update Feb 28 1999 & Updated 7 Apr 1999 - Correction July 7 2001
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Introductory Note: For a number of years, beginning in the 1870s, The Rev. John J. Dickey traveled the state of Kentucky, particularly Eastern Kentucky, maintaining diaries which have been preserved, and which include interviews by Rev. Dickey of local residents, particularly the elderly. This report is an attempt to gather interviews of Combs-related interviews into one location - not only for their interesting reading, but also because in some instances, they are the only documentation of the relationships of various of our Combs and Combs-Associated Families. The source for the various interviews is not always the same and thus has been included with each interview.

All of the Eastern Kentucky Combs interviewed by Rev. Dickey were descendants of (New) John Combs, Sr., "father of the eight" (brothers who came first to East Kentucky). Combs Researchers have identified most of the Combs mentioned below (as indicated by footnotes and/or hot-links to corresponding Combs Research Reports).

Important! A comparison of some of the transcripts to microfilmed copies of the original diary pages has revealed that in some instances, some transcribers may have added words inside (parentheses) for purposes of clarification. In other instances, those parenthetical additions were made by Rev. Dickey himself. Because the addition of these words can affect the original meaning, we have converted them to red font to indicate they were apparently not part of the original words taken down by Rev. Dickey.

The only other changes made to the transcriptions are by Combs Research:

  1. CAPITALIZATION of Surnames
  2. Annotations added in [brackets]
  3. Hot-Links to individuals, records and/or locations for whom Combs Research Reports exist

Warning! In addition to potential errors in transcription, the contents of the Dickey Diary Interviews are also subject to error by the interviewee and/or Rev. Dickey. The Dickey Diary interviews should always be used in conjunction with other records whenever possible.

For a "straight text" version of the Dickey Diaries, click dd.txt.

Index to the Interviews (Interviewee Only)
BAKER, Robert N. (New Feb 1999)CORNETT, Elijah Combs
BOLLING, Jason WalkerCORNETT, William
Combs, AndrewDUFF, Matilda Lewis
Corrected Mar 2 1999
Combs, John S.LYTTLE, D. Y. (New Feb 1999)
Combs, Margaret LewisLYTTLE, Wood
Combs, Napoleon BonaparteMAGGARD, Rita Boggs Combs
Combs, William M. (1) (2) (3)WHITE, John D.

Primary East Kentucky Counties

The Interviews

Andrew Combs Hazard [Perry Co], Kentucky. April 26, 1898 (J. J. Dickey Diary, Reel #3, pp. 2267-2273, transcribed by Darlene Sizemore and Phyllis Hefelfinger.)

I was born in 1806. My grandfather lived at the Long Islands of Holston River, a good while. He and my father went there several times. My grandfather married Nancy GRIGSBY. I have been at the Long Islands of Holston myself. My mother was a sickly women and I went back for medicine. I took my mother to Salt Creek, Indiana to see her mother, Mrs. HICKS. I am a brother of John S. Combs who lives on this creek. I knew that General Leslie Combs was kin to us but I do not know weather he was Uncle William's son or not. I saw my uncle William often. (1) He used to come from about Lexington [Fayette Co, KY] to see us. My Grandfather Nicholas Combs came first. He built a cabin and left his wife and went back for provisions etc.

I think Sam CORNETT was the oldest of the CORNETT'S. My grandfather was detained on his first trip back to (the) Long Island of Holston and he feared his wife would starve or die before he could get back but when he came up to the point of the mouth of Carr, he helloed and she answered him. His heart leaped with joy at the response. the deer were all about the cabin but she did not know how to shoot. The women were not marksmen. I knew my mother to kill bear and deer. the old CombsES were property plenty. They owned slaves. They went back to Tennessee. I crossed New River when I went to the seashore. I think old Thomas GRIGSBY came out with my grandfather; he was his brother-in-law, brother of my grandmother. Old Mason Combs married a terrible women. Martin Combs was his son, on Carr; also Preston on Middle Fork and Bony at Booneville. (2) the Indians used to scout through the settlement and do devilment. My wife was Polly FELTNER, they were Dutch people. My wife is four years my junior. She has a brother on Lot's Creek called Jacob FELTNER, pretty well preserved. The FELTNERS came from Tennessee. They were here when I was born. I was born in this county. My mother was a SUMNER. They came from the Long Islands of Holston. There is a island in the river a mile or two long, just below Bluntsville [Sullivan Co, TN]. I am pretty certain my father married in this state. My brother, Mose was the eldest child. He was a man grown when I was a boy. My wife had brothers and sisters as follows:

William, Henry, Rebecca (OSBORNE) in Indiana, and Jacob. My father in law died and is burried at the Squire Nick Combs, place near L.D. Combs. She had a sister Nancy, married a RICHIE. Old Richard SMITH married Nancy Combs, my aunt. (3) He was a Baptist preacher. He would drink liquor and fight. He whipped a bully and got his nose and ear bitten off. He was a blacksmith. He could not be whipped. I have traveled a great deal. I got my eyes hurt in a fight when on the road to Indiana. A fellow imposed on my brother and I whipped him. The Dr. told me my eye would fail when I was old and now the sight is gone. I have had many fights but not on my own account.

I never was whipped. Some of the old CombsES belonged to the church. My father did. He made a great deal of liquor. My grandfather and he were great workers, never stopped. They both got well off. My father made money making flat boats and selling to Clay's Ferry to boat tobacco to New Orleans. He sold one for $200. The CombsES were usually tall. My father was called "Chunky" Jerry. He was like the GRIGSBYS.

He had $10,000 worth of land in Perry County when he died. He had land all over the county. My grandfather was the richest of all the CombsES. All had negros and a great deal of property. My father used to boat coal to Clay's Ferry. I remember when they began to boat coal from here. It was when I was a boy. I remember when he took empty boats down. I am not certain but I think my father Jerry Combs, took the first boat load of coal down the river. I remember when they began to take timber off on rafts. They took walnut first. John AMY (AMIS), Sam DAVIDSON, old Billy STRONG, the preacher the BEGLEYS, and others were involved in the 'cattle war' the middle forkers got the worst of it. Old GILBERT was with AMY (AMIS) he rode up amongst the Grapevine boys. Some of the SIZEMORES were in it. CALLAHANS and DAVIDSONS came from Clay to help the Grapevine boys. AMY (AMIS) was an overbearing man. Joel ELKINS set his gun behind the door of the Court House and at the picked time shot AMY (AMIS). 1807.

They called William Combs of Fayette, "Old Buckery". They said he was doing well. He was a farmer. I have been to his house in Fayette. My grandfather was a wild man, would fight in a minute but was very kind hearted. Old General Combs sent a negro man to bury a negro of his own who had died in a swamp below Squire Nicks burying ground. He had laid down on a log in a swamp and fell off dead. His little dog was lying between his shoulders when he found him. General (Elijah) told the negro to put a chain about the dead negros neck and drag him out and dig a hole and put him in it. My grandfather (Nicholas Combs) found it out and was about to thrash the negro for doing such a thing. They both carried (it) (him) to the graveyard and buried (him) in a coffin. General and grandfather had some hard words about it. General did not care for such treatment of others nor did he fear anybody, but my grandfather was too strong for him. The FELTNERS came from Long Islands of Holston but came later then my grandfather but not much. I have seen old General Elijah Combs at muster in his regimentals. (4) I have been sick nine month but have had no physician. I have no confidence in the doctors we have. Then I thought I was old and must soon die and it was no use to try. I am in a peculiar condition. I do not believe anybody could do me any good.


  1. Uncle William, a.k.a. William of Fayette, a.k.a. "Old Buckery" was RW William "8" Combs.
  2. Old Mason Combs was Mason "8" Combs. Martin Combs was a.k.a. Massingill Martin Combs, and Boney a.k.a. Napoleon Bonaparte Combs. Booneville is in Owsley Co, KY.
  3. Richard SMITH married Elitia Combs (not Nancy), d/o Nicholas "8" Combs, Sr.
  4. General Combs was Elijah "8" Combs, Sr.

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Rebecca Maggard BOGGS Combs, Hazard [Perry Co], KY. 4/26/1898, (Excerpts from the Dickey Diary - Dec. 30, 1895 to July 1, 1898, Microfiche No. 0157071, J. J. Dickey Diary, Reel #3, pp 2261-3)

I was born in 1821 in Harlan County, Kentucky on the Poor Fork. My father was Samuel MAGGARD. He was born in Rockbridge, Co., PA. He was Dutch. My mother was Rebecca ROBERTSON. They had 12 children to live to be grown. The children were: John, Susannah, Henry, Rudolph, David, Mgt* (sic), Sarah, James, Moses, Samuel, Rebecca & Elizabeth.

Susanna married Henry BACK related to the Breathitt BACKS.

Mgt (sic) married Jesse ADAMS, Sarah married Samuel CAUDILL, Elizabeth a CREECH. He was killed in the war. My father and mother were members of the old Baptist Church so were all my bros and sis. John was the father of Samuel, Reuben or Rudolph MAGGARD of Leslie Co. My parents died on the Poor Fork; six or eight miles from its source. My husband's name was Abel BOGGS. He was raised on Callahoun Creek, Lee County, Virginia, a mile from the Powell's River.

I was married to Mr. BOGGS when I was 15 years old. We had four children. Jesse who lives at Hazard; Silas lives at Troublesome, a Baptist preacher; Elizabeth (HUFF) who lives on the head of the Ball in Knott Co; Susanna who married Wm. AMBURGEY and lives in Montgomery Co. KY. I married John S. Combs Nov 1875 [See Next]. * Margaret

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John S. Combs, Hazard Jeremiah Combs. He was born in N.C. or Va. My grandfather was Nicholas Combs. He was born in Va or New River, N.C. He lived and died near where L.D. Combs now lives in Perry County. He came to Kentucky early in the settlement of Kentucky. There was a large company came together: Mason, George, Nicholas, W, Jeremiah, Byron, Elijah Combs. There was one other who made it. Yes, Henry was his name. Mason was the oldest. I have seen none of these Uncles. (1) Byron moved to Indiana (2); Wm moved to Bluegrass. I do not know whether or not General Leslie Combs was kin to us but I suppose he was a son of my Uncle Wm. Combs as they both lived in that section of the state. Uncle Wm moved to the Bluegrass before I was born. My father died Jan 1853, 73 years old. This would place his birth in 1780. He was not grown when he came here. I often heard my father & mother say that the CombsES came from Jamestown, Va to North Carolina. My father had two brothers: Samuel who lives or lived at Booneville, the father of Wiley Combs & Nicholas, the father of Lorenzo, one sister who married John WILLIAMS who died on Troublesome.

My mother was Synthia SUMNER. Her father was Samuel SUMNER who was killed by the Sheriff for resisting arrest either in N.C. or Ky. My mother came with the company to Ky. Her brother, John, came also. He moved to Indiana but some of his children returned and live in Letcher and Perry. My grandmother SUMNER married a HICKS and went to Indiana and raised a family.

Two of my uncles HICKS lived on the Ozark Mts in the edge of Arkansas, when I was there. Nicholas Combs, my grandfather, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Several of his brothers were in the same war. I can't tell which ones were in the war, they may all have been in it.

Old Wm CORNETT came with my uncles to Ky; also Richard SMITH, great grandfather of "Bad" Tom SMITH. He settled on Troublesome.

I have heard my mother tell often of the killing of BENGE, the renegade. She saw the Indians and told of one fellow hiding in the loft and falling through while the Indians were cooking below and scaring them away.

Mason Combs, my uncle, had children as follows: Martin, lived on Carr's Fork; Preston, lived in Breathitt on the Middle Fork, Cyry [h]is son; Washington lived below mouth of Carr on North Fork; Talton Combs at the mouth of Carr; Clinton still lived [lives] at the mouth of Carr, very old; Boneparte lived at Booneville.

George Combs had children as follows: Claiborne lived in Owsley, Byron dead.

Elijah lived in Perry. He was General of the Militia. He had sons: Jesse, Elijah, and Jackson. Josiah Combs was killed by Joe ADKINS was the son of Jesse. Jesse was Clerk of Perry [Co, KY] first and as long as he lived and his grandson, Ira DAVIDSON, succeeded him. I have seen him (Gen. Elijah) in his regimentals commanding at the muster. He (Jesse) was killed by the explosion of a keg of powder in Shade DUFF'S store in Hazard. Someone snuffed a candle and accidentally threw the snuff in the keg of powder under the counter. DUFF was son-in-law of Combs. Both DUFF and Combs were killed. DUFF was killed instantly. Combs lay a good while. (3)

Henry (Harry) Combs had children as follows: Henry, lived in Big Creek; Matthew lived on Troublesome in Breathitt, father of Wm. M. Combs of Breathitt and Isaac of Wolfe; also George on Troublesome in Perry. Henry moved to Indiana.

Old George married a HERALD.

I do not know when the CombsES came to Kentucky, but I know it was in the 1700's.

My grandfather Nicholas Combs lived to be 101 or 2 or 3 years old. He is buried near L. D. Combs. I was grown when he died. I was married, just married, had no children (He looked at his Bible. J.J.D.) was Feb.28,1838. I bought his dog irons at his sale to go housekeeping. (4)

The old SIZEMORES used to come to my father's to get liquor. They would drink and fight.


  1. The "large company" is believed to have consisted of (at a minimum) the eight sons of John Combs, Sr. Omitted from the above list is RW John Combs. An additional name is that of Jeremiah Combs, with the reference possibly to John S.' own father, but see also Early Jeremiah Combs of the Southern Frontier. Also note that according to The Combes Genealogy, p. 59, John did not make the inexplicable statement that he had "seen none of these uncles," but instead stated that he had seen all of them.
  2. Byron Combs was actually Biram Combs (also a.k.a. Byrom, Abiram).
  3. Jesse Combs d 6 Jan 1874; however, there is now a question as to the accuracy of the (parenthetical) info as to when the explosion occurred and who died. (See Dickey Diary Interview of Matilda DUFF Lewis).
  4. The use of "JJD" in parentheses apparently indicates a remark inserted by the Interviewer, Rev. J. J. Dickey. The primary inconsistency in the interview of John S. Combs is the statement that his grandfather, Nicholas Combs, Sr., d in 1838 (he is documented as having d 1855-1859, Perry). Is it possible that he was referring to a different (Combs?) grandparent (or even a great-grandparent) rather than to Nicholas, and that Rev. Dickey erroneously wrote the wrong name? See also Margaret Combs Lewis Interview.

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Elijah Combs CORNETT, Hazard [Perry Co], KY., April 27, 1898. (John Jay Dickey Diary, pp. 149-50 of transcription by Darlene Sizemore and Phyllis Hefelfinger, abstracted by Researcher Barbara Stacy Mathews)

"I was born Perry Co, Ky., March 22, 1822. My father was Robert CORNETT. My mother was Louisa Combs, daughter of Gen. Elijah Combs. My grandfather CORNETT'S name was William. He and his brother, Samuel CORNETT came with him. He lost his wife before coming here. Woolery EVERSOLE married a daughter of his first wife and John CAUDELL of Letcher also. His second wife was an EVERIDGE, William CORNETT came from Buncombe Co., NC. He emigrated to Virginia when his wife died. He had children as follows: Nathaniel, Roger, Joseph, Archibald, Robert, Mrs. Woolery EVERSOLE, Jeff who moved to Indiana, Jackson County, also Samuel Who died where Hindman [Knott Co, KY] now stands, Rachel who married John CAUDELL. General Combs first built a cabin on the hill back of Hazard. In 1800 he built the old log house which still stands in the upper end of Hazard. Samuel CORNETT, brother of my grandfather settled on Line Fork, now Letcher County. His descendants live mostly in Letcher and Harlan… Alex Combs, son of Squire Nick Combs, brother of L. D. Combs took the first raft… I think the CORNETTS came from Holston River to Kentucky. Mason and George Combs died with the fever the same year about the time I was born. General Leslie Combs was a kinsman of my grandfather Elijah Combs: also Dr. Combs of Winchester [Clark Co, KY] also Wirt Combs at the mouth of Howard's Creek below Boonesboro [Madison Co, KY] at Comb's Ferry. I do not know what kind of kin they are to us. I suppose he was descended from William Combs of Fayette. Gen. Leslie Combs built the towers at Kentucky River. He wore a hunting shirt at a great political meeting at Cumberland Gap in which three States were represented, my grandfather Elijah Combs was there…"

Notes: Wirt was Werter Combs, s/o Samuel Richardson & Margaret THOMPSON Combs of Clark Co, KY. Note that there is some disagreement among the interviewees as to whether and/or how they were kin to the Clark Co, KY Combs. Clearly, if they were, the relationship was not a close one.

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John D. WHITE (John Jay Dickey Diary, Page 2289 of original manuscript, page 156 of transcription by Darlene Sizemore and Phyllis Hefelfinger, abstracted by Researcher Barbara Stacy Mathews)

Mason Combs was the original Combs in the mountains. he setteled on a high hill below the mouth of Carr's Fork, on opposite side. Mace's Creek was named for him and is really Mason's Creek. His brother's Danger Combs and Gen. Elijah Combs came later. He laid out a patent about the mouth of Mace's Creek making his beginning corner a "mill seat" upon which a mill was never built until two years ago by one of the HALLS.

A family named LESLIE now lives at the mouth of Line Fork, Letcher County. Old General Leslie Combs was of this stock.

Additional Information: The origins of General Leslie Combs' name have not been determined. The reference to "Danger" is to Nicholas Combs, Sr., h/o Nancy GRIGSBY.

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Corrected Mar 2 1999 (See Below For Changes) Earlier Source was apparently taken from the Kentucky Biographies website,, with their source being: Dr. John J. Dickey Diary, Fleming County, Ky. Recorded in the 1870's and beyond. Reprinted in Kentucky Explorer, Volume 10, No 1 May, 1995. pp. 80-81. Corrected Source is from "Eastern Kentucky, Bits of the Past, from Dr. John J. Dickey's Diary," with their source being almost the same as above: Dr. John J. Dickey Diary - May, 1898, Leslie County, Ky., Reprinted in Kentucky Explorer, Volume 10, No 1 - May, 1995. p. 82. Changes are in bold and [brackets].

Matilda DUFF Lewis - Hyden [Leslie Co], Ky., May 1898. My father was Rev. Daniel DUFF, born in Guilford County, N.C. in 1776. His father was Shadrick DUFF. He was killed in the Revolutionary War. His wife was Deborah DICKSON, did not survive him. Shadrick DUFF'S father was born in Ireland. He was Scotch-Irish. The DICKSONS were Irish also. My father spoke (used) broken English. My father used to call Mrs SPARKS his old Irish aunt. My father had a sister, Elizabeth [previously "Eliabeth"], who married Mr. McLEAN. They settled in Green County, Tenn. and reared a large family. I saw two of the sons at my father's once. My mother was Nancy Ann ELLISON. My parents were married in Guilford County. Her father was Welsh. Soon after my father and mother married they came to Lee County, Virginia. There were DUFFS living there. Robin DUFF of that county was a very wealthy man. They were related to my father. While they lived in Lee County several children were born to them. Their oldest child was Henry, he was born in 1798. John was born in 1801. In 1818 my parents removed to Perry County, Kentucky, and settled on the North Fork of the Kentucky River about two miles above the mouth of Grapevine Creek. He was a Baptist Minister. Attending a meeting of some kind in Harlan County, he met with Rev. Jesse BOLLING who lived on the North Fork and becoming attached to him, made a visit to his home. This led to his removal to Kentucky and Perry County. My father's children were: Henry, John, Shadrick and Martha who married William BOWMAN and moved to Iowa. They reared a family. Deborah, who married William BOLLING and reared a large family on Middle Fork about Perry and Breathitt line. Mary married SHEPHERD and moved to Missouri; Colson who married Elizabeth GILBERT of Virginia. These GILBERTS moved to the Sandy Country, where Thomas GILBERT, the father died. Drusilla married William GILBERT, brother of Elizabeth. They moved to Illinois about the close of the war. They lived in Carter county up to that time. Alexander married Miss HOLLY or HOLYFIELD. He is a carpenter and lived in Breathitt. Margaret who married John HAYS of Breathitt and moved to Wolfe County where he [previously "she"] died. She was living at last account. She raised a large family. I am the next and youngest. I was born in 1825. I married John LEWIS in 1859. Our children: Drusilla LEWIS, wife of Theo LEWIS, and Henry LEWIS with whom I live and one who died are my children. These are all. My father died in 1855 in Carter County, my mother in Perry County in 1849. My father then went to his daughters in Carter County where he married a Mrs. Ellen ROE. He only lived a short time after this.

I went to school to David FEE. He was a smart man, a good teacher and highly respected. He taught near my home. When my father moved to Kentucky he came horseback. They came down Red Bird and up Cutshin. There were no wagon roads. They stayed all night at John GILBERTS. I knew old William STRONG, he too, was a Baptist preacher. He married Jane CALLAHAN, the daughter of Edward CALLAHAN, of Red Bird. Several of her brothers lived on the North Fork and it was they who were engaged in the "Cattle War." John AMIS, the leader of the other side, was a brother-in-law of John GILBERT, they having married sisters- BOLLINGS. The names of CALLAHANS were William and Isaac, nicknamed "Pike" and it seems to me there was a third. Old Samuel DAVIDSON married a CALLAHAN, sister to Mrs. STRONG [previously "SSTRONG"], and he was in the war.

Rev. William STRONG was a Baptist preacher. He had children as follows; Edward, Isaac, Alexander and William. William married a DEATON, sister of the old legislator. Edward married a SPENCER; his children were: Capt. William STRONG, Mrs. Alfred MARCUM, Mrs. John LITTLE and Mrs. Henry DUFF, also Robert STRONG who died young leaving a few children; also Judge Alex STRONG of Lee County, Kentucky. William had children as follows; Judge Edward STRONG of Lost Creek known as "Red Ned;" Mrs. William COPE (Tom COPE'S father) and Mrs. Wiley COPE, of Big Branch. Isaac had a son, William. Alexander married Miss WILSON, had several children, one the wife of George BAKER of Clay County, also Daniel STRONG of Laurel County.

John SPENCER was an early settler of Grapevine. I think he came from Virginia. He had a large family. I think William SPENCER of Breathitt who married Miss BRITTAIN was a relative of his. Joseph SPENCER was one of his sons. John SPENCER who married John DUFF'S daughter was a son of Joseph SPENCER.

My brother, John DUFF married Mary, the daughter of General Elijah Combs. He had children as follows: Sarah Jane DAVIDSON, Henry DUFF who married Mahala STRONG, daughter of Edward and sister of Capt. Bill STRONG; Elijah , married Mary EVERSOLE, daughter of old Billy EVERSOLE lives in Owsley, father of Miss Mary DUFF; Shadrick DUFF married Mary Combs, granddaughter [previously "granddaughters"] of Gen. Combs. They raised a family: Louisa, wife of John SPENCER; Nancy, wife of Major John EVERSOLE, mother of Joseph and Harry, George, John and Claude EVERSOLE; Orleana, wife of Adam CAMPBELL, they reared a family; Mary wife of Anderson EVERSOLE who moved to Kansas, a brother of Abner and Capt. Billy EVERSOLE.

John DUFF, my brother, was the first surveyor in Perry County. He was county judge of Perry in his old days. He had an arm amputated when he was in the 70's. He died in 1892, age 91. He left a fine estate at the mouth of Grapevine. His wife survives him. (1)

Old Miss Effie MOORE, raised one child, Allen MOORE. His father was MORRIS [previously omitted]. She was a good woman, raised her child well, never had any other. Allen married Margaret LEWIS, sister of my husband. They had a large family of children; Daniel James, William, who was killed in Jackson, some left the country; Drusilla married James WHITE, parents of Miss Mary WHITE. They were two of the old DAVIDSONS, Samuel who married CALLAHAN above given and who moved to Missouri; and Robert who lived in Breathitt.

Shadrick DUFF, my brother was killed by the explosion of a keg of gun powder in a store room in Hazard when a young man. He snuffed a candle and threw the snuff into a keg of power, accidentally. He and my brother John [previously James] were in partnership in the goods business. We lived in Hazard at the time. John was in the south with a drove of horses at that time and did not hear the calamity till he reached home. His wife told him of it, before he got off his horse, whereupon he went to the grave and stuck his riding switch in the fresh dirt. It grew to be a tree and stands there today. (2)


  1. Mary Combs (d/o "General" Elijah and Sarah ROARK Combs, Sr.), b ca 1805, Kentucky; m 16 Jan 1823, Perry Co, KY, John DUFF (s/o Daniel & Nancy Ann ELLISON Duff). Among their children were Shadrach DUFF, b ca 1833, whom Matilda states married Mary Combs, granddaughter of Elijah "8" Combs, Sr.; however, see 1859 Perry Co, KY Marriage record which crosses out surname Combs and adds PATRICK instead. Also note that there is confusion in regard to Combs-Duff marriages (see next). Research in progress.
  2. Also note apparent conflict as to whether it was Shadrach DUFF, Sr. or Jr. who was killed by the explosion. There is now a question as to whether the explosion occurred in 1873-1874 when Jesse Combs died or the late 1820s (research in progress), in which case it is not known which Combs died in the explosion with DUFF. See interview of John S. Combs and see Lucinda Combs, possibly d/o Elijah Combs, Sr. and w/o Shadrach DUFF, Sr.

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Margaret Combs Lewis, Hyden, KY, May 30, 1898. (Dr. John J. Dickey Diary, Fleming County, Ky. Recorded in the 1870's and beyond. Reprinted in Kentucky Explorer, Vol 10, Number 2, June, 1995. pp. 81-82)

I was born in Perry County, Kentucky in 1820 or 1822. (1)

My father was Nicholas Combs. He was a son of Nicholas Combs, one of the original eight brothers who settled in Perry County from Holston River, Virginia.

My grandfather John Combs, my mother's father, was a Revolutionary soldier, I am certain of that. One of his brothers was also a soldier in the Revolutionary War. I think it was Washington. (2) I was nearly grown when my grandfather, Nicholas Combs, died in 1837 or 1838. (1) He settled near where L. D. Combs now lives and there lived and died. My father, Nicholas Combs, told me that when grandfather first came to Perry he went to Carr to get some wheat to sow from old William CORNETT. He had no wheat but half a bushel of rye which my grandfather brought home. My grandfather sowed it and when the grain was in the milk they washed it and cooked it, so scarce was bread stuff.

My grandfather, Nicholas Combs, had only five children, viz. Nicholas, Jeremiah and Semund. Rebecca married a WILLIAMS and Licia married a SMITH. (3)

Granville and Lorenzo Combs are my brothers and still live below Hazard.

My mother was Elizabeth Combs, daughter of John Combs and one of the original eight Combs in Perry. He first settled in Lincoln County near Danville and later came to Perry and settled on Carr's Fork. He moved to Owsley County and lived a number of years and then went to Lincoln or Boyle County where two of his daughters lived and there died. (4) These daughters never came to the mountains. They married before their father moved to the mountains. One of them married Joseph GOOD, two of their sons from about Danville were in Perry once buying cattle. They were prosperous men. Another daughter married James HUNDLEY and they removed to Perry with my grandfather, John Combs. They had two sons, Harry (Henry) HUNDLEY and Samuel HUNDLEY. Harry (Henry) HUNDLEY married a sister of Judge Josiah Combs of Perry. Kenneth HUNDLEY, son of Sam, married Miss MATTINGLY, sister of Judge Josiah Combs' wife. (5) My grandfather, John Combs, had a daughter named Dicie who married a SPENCER and removed to Illinois. This SPENCER was related to the SPENCERS on Grapevine. Another daughter, Margaret died single. My grandfather, John Combs, had sons: Hardin, Benjamin and John, called Jack. Hardin lived and died in Breathitt on Middle Fork at the mouth of Buck Creek. My sister married his son, Hardin. (6) She still lives there. Benjamin lived and died on Turkey Creek, Breathitt County. Jack lived in Owsley on Cow Creek. I think the Combs came from North Carolina to Holston River. Meredith Combs of Clay County is a son of my uncle John or Jack Combs.


  1. Margaret Combs Lewis was not born in 1820 or 1822, but about twenty years later, in 1840-1841 (documented by Perry, Clay and Leslie Co, KY records). Her paternal grandfather, Nicholas "8" Combs, Sr., did not die in 1837 or 1838, but about twenty years later; i.e., 1855-1859.
  2. No Washington Combs has been located in the records of early East Kentucky, nor mentioned in other interviews or histories. Either Margaret (or Rev. Dickey) was mistaken, or possibly George "8" Combs was actually George Washington Combs?
  3. The five children of Nicholas "8" Combs, Sr. were: Nicholas, Jeremiah and Samuel (not Semund). Rebecca married John WILLIAMS and Elitia (Alicia, Licia, etc.) married Richard SMITH.
  4. RW John "8" Combs died in Washington Co, KY, not Lincoln or Boyle. Also note that Danville was in that part of Lincoln Co KY which became Boyle in 1842 when Boyle was established from Lincoln and Mercers Cos.
  5. Sarah Combs, d/o RW John "8" Combs, married (1) 2 Nov 1810, Lincoln Co, KY, James HUNDLEY, by whom she had Harvey [sic], Samuel and Thomas HUNDLEY; m (2) Claiborne Combs, s/o George "8" Combs.

  6. The Combes Genealogy… states that Harvey HUNDLEY (s/o James) m Sarah Combs (sister of Judge Josiah H. Combs and d/o Jesse and Polly BOLLING Combs, Sr.), but Harvey HUNDLEY (who went by Combs), appears to have married an Elizabeth PARSONS according to the records of Owsley Co, KY. Josiah H. Combs m Polly MATTINGLY, b 1830, d/o Jesse and Nancy BOWLING Mattingly. Her sister has not been identified. Kenneth HUNDLEY (s/o Samuel & Elizabeth Combs Hundley), was not b until ca 1850, and it is not known whom he married.

  7. Margaret's sister, Dicey Combs of Breathitt Co, KY, was b ca 1818, m Hardin Combs, Jr., s/o Hardin Combs, Sr.

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William M. Combs, Jackson, KY, July 19, 1898. (Excerpts from the Dickey Diary - Dec. 30, 1895 to July 1, 1898, Microfiche No. 0157071, P. 2411). (Combs Note: Interview 1 of 3)

Henry Combs was my grandfather. He married Rachael CLEMENTS before he came to Kentucky. They had children as follows: Matthew (my father), Henry, George, James, Stephen and Frank; Bettie, Polly and Winnie. Bettie married Jerry Combs; Winnie married John MILLER; Polly, Downey STACY. My grandfather moved to Indiana about 1837 or 1838. He visited KY about 1848. He reared a large family by his second wife, Phoebe FRANCIS.

George died in Perry on Troublesome. His descendents are still there.

Henry married Nancy BROWN in New River, NC and reared a family on Big Creek, Perry County.

Frank married Bettie OLIVER first, second Polly COUCH, lived and died in Perry.

Stephen lived and died in Breathitt.

My father married Frankie BROWN on New River, (sister to) my Aunt Nancy BROWN (who was married to Henry Combs). His children were: Aaron, Alfred, Matthew, Henry, Richard, Isaac B., Wm. M., Nathan, Rachel.

Aaron married Ruth DICKERSON; Alfred, Peggy NOBLE; Matthew, Sallie WILLIAMS; Henry, Tempie DAVIS; Richard, Polly BACK; Isaac B., Louvisa McINTYRE; Wm. M., Jane Combs, daughter of Washington and grandaughter of Mason Combs, one of the original COMBES; Nathan married Miss CLINE of Arkansas and is still living there. Rachael married Isaac BACK.

Alfred and Henry lived and died on Troublesome in Breathitt. Aaron and Matthew lived and died in Missouri; Richard in Montgomery Co., Ky. Isaac B., in Wolfe County, Ky., Rachael on Quicksand, Breathitt Co., Ky.

William M. Combs, 1898, Breathitt County, KY. (Dr. John J. Dickey Diary, Fleming County, Ky. Recorded in the 1870's and beyond. Reprinted in Kentucky Explorer, Volume 11, No 2 June, 1996, p. 82.) (Combs Note: Interview 2 of 3)

I was personally acquainted with General Leslie Combs. I met him in Frankfort in 1862, July. Dr. RODMAN knocked him down. Combs called RODMAN a God-d------ traitor. Leslie swore he could cut out a better General with a broad ax out of a buckeye than the General who was commanding at Flafort??? [sic] (Frankfort). Leslie told me we are all kin. I do not know how close, but it was distant. He had two brothers who were not much. Leslie was the boy Captain during the War of 1812. He carried a man off the battle field, and when Leslie broke (?), this man set him up in business.

Nickolson Combs was called "Danger" Combs; his son, Nickolson, was called "Birdeye;" he was Peggy LEWIS' father. General Leslie Combs was Clerk of the Court of Appeals after the Civil War.

At a Methodist meeting at the mouth of Lot's Creek, the preachers were slapping the mourners on the back and telling them to pray on, saying, "We have the devil down. Let's keep him down." Old General Elijah Combs was present and ... (Interview ends here without any warning.)

William M Combs, Jackson [Breathitt Co], Kentucky, July 19, 1898. (Dr. John J. Dickey Diary, Fleming County, Ky. Recorded in the 1870's and beyond. Reprinted in Kentucky Explorer, Vol 10, Number 10, April, 1996. p. 85.) (Combs Note: Interview 3 of 3)

Reverend Nixon COVEY, a local Methodist preacher, taught school in the Cut Off at Jackson in 1844. I went to school to him in 1844. He is the grandfather of the BARNETTS.

Reverend Carlisle BABBITT was an early circuit rider. He reproved Nathan NOBLE for cooking on Sunday. Next time, he gave him cold bread. BABBITT asked for the warm bread which NOBLE had cooked for himself, but he did not get it. His wife, Aunt Jennie, was a member of the Methodist Church. BABBITT preached on Lost Creek and Troublesome. It was old Mrs. ALLEN who told him where to find his sheep. It was at a log rolling; Mrs. ALLEN was there. He stopped. Mrs. ALLEN was a little tipsy and asked him his business. "I am hunting lost sheep (of Israel)." "I say that is your ram at old Bill (Jake) NOBLE'S."

Some say she said, "Ill be d--ned." I went to school to a circuit rider in the old Baptist church on Troublesome. Reverend Richard SMITH married Malissie Combs, an ancestor of Bad Tom SMITH.

Note: Richard SMITH m Elitia Combs, not Malissie.

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Napoleon Bonaparte Combs, Jackson [Breathitt Co], Kentucky, July 19, 1898. (Dr. John J. Dickey Diary, Fleming County, Ky. Recorded in the 1870's and beyond. Reprinted in Kentucky Explorer, Vol 10, Number 10, April, 1996. p. 85.)

I was born in Perry County, Kentucky, in 1808. All I know about my age is that I voted for General JACKSON. I think it was his second election for I only voted for him once. My father was Mason Combs. My mother was Jennie RICHESON or RICHARDSON. He and seven brothers came. William Combs, my uncle, went to Fayette County. He was at my mother's after my father died and wanted to take me to his home to raise. My father had 11 children, 5 girls and 6 boys. I am the youngest. The girls were born first. Willie, the youngest daughter, was born in Kentucky. There are seven children, at least, born after the CombsES came to Kentucky, and the youngest was born in 1808. The surveyor (?) books are good authorities. John DUFF was the first surveyor I knew. I think the CombsES are Irish. Stephen JETT told me that he stayed all night at my father's when he moved to Kentucky. My father took up all the land that he could in his own name, and then he took some up in his daughter, Willie's, name. He owned six miles up Carr, also up and down the North Fork. He had land in Tennessee. He left his land on the Holston. He said there were Indians in Kentucky, and if he could not live here, he would have his own land to which to go back. He never sold it. He had plenty here and did not need it.

I married Miss Susan ISOM. My father-in-law said he used to carry his own gun while plowing, but I do not know that there were Indians here. The ISOMS must have come about as early as the CombsES. I moved first to Breathitt about fifty years ago and then to Owsley seven years later. General Leslie Combs, of Lexington, was a cousin of my father's. I have always understood it. One of my nephews named his son for him. So did Hardin Combs of the Middle Fork, Breathitt. Old Leslie told Wiley Combs, my son-in-law, "Never deny your name. It is as good a name as there is in this world." He always claimed kin to us."

Note: Napoleon is correct in stating that he only voted for President Andrew JACKSON once. JACKSON ran ran for election in 1828 and 1832, thus to be eligible to vote for him (age 21 or more) for his first term, birth year would have had to be pre-1808.

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William CORNETT, Coon Creek, Leslie County, KY, Jan. 17, 1898. (John Jay Dickey Diary, p. 2138, extracted from Clay Co KY Rootsweb Archives)

I was born in Perry county, KY, Feb. 3, 1814 on Leatherwood Creek. My father's name was Archibal CORNETT. He was born in East Tennessee on either Little or Big Moccasin. His father's name was James CORNETT who came to Perry County, KY. When my father was a boy 7 to 10 years old. My father was 84 years old when he died in 1873. This would make the coming of the CORNETTS to KY from 1796 to 1799. My grandfather was married twice, once to a GILLAM, once an EVEREDGE. He had children as follows: Nathaniel, Samuel, Roger, Archibald, William, John, Robert, Lucy (Woolery EVERSOLE), Elizabeth (CAMPBELL) Nancy (Samuel Combs), Archibald, my father, married Judy McDANIEL; Robert (a Combs), Roger, Charlotte (CALLAHAN).

Notes: Archibald CORNETT was the s/o RW William CORNETT, not James CORNETT. Nancy CORNETT m 13 Dec 1819, Clay Co KY, Samuel Combs, s/o Nicholas & Nancy Grigsby Combs,  Robert B. CORNETT m 1821, Perry Co KY, Louisa Combs, d/o Elijah and Sally ROARK Combs, Sr. William CORNETT was m 1st on 7 May 1790, Washington Co, VA to Rhoda GILAM (by Rev. John FROST); m 2nd in Apr 1796 in Sullivan Co TN, Mary EVERAGE (ward of Judith TOLSON Stacy Pettit) at the house of George & Polly (WOODS?) Morrison.

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Jason Walker BOLLING, Benge [Clay Co], Kentucky, June 15, 1898. Dr. John J. Dickey Diary, Fleming County, Ky. Recorded in the 1870's and beyond. Reprinted in Kentucky Explorer, Volume 10, No 4 - September, 1995. p. 86)

My great grandfather, Jesse BOLLING, came to Kentucky in 1810. My grandfather, Elijah BOLLING was born at the Three Forks of Powell River in Lee Co., Virginia in 1798, and when he was 12 years old his father removed to Perry Co., Ky. Daniel DUFF baptized by great-grandfather, Elijah BOLLING. Rev. Andrew BAKER baptized by great-grandfather at Blackwater Church, now Hawkins County, Tenn. My great-great grandfather was Major John BOLLING. He had 19 sons. I do not know that there were any daughters. One of these sons, William BOLLING married Martha JEFFERSON, sister of Thomas JEFFERSON, President of the United States. Other sons were, Jesse, above mentioned, Benjamin the oldest born in 1752 or 3. Jesse was born 1765. ROBERTA the wife of U. S. Senator Archibald DIXON, was the daughter of Dilaney BOLLING of Missouri and the granddaughter of Major John BOLLING, aforesaid. Gov. John Young BROWN'S wife was a daughter of Archibald DIXON. (Roger CORNETT, son of the original William CORNETT built the house where Hamp. COLDIRON lives, in 1802, he married Zilpha CALLAHAN. This makes the date of the CORNETT'S coming to Kentucky 1796-1799 probable. Men from Crug's Ferry at mouth of Sexton were at the raising. Roger CORNETT was into slaves and land. He owned the COLEMAN Survey, patented in 1783 of 5,600 acres.)

There are some BOLLINGS in western Kentucky. One went to Congress some years ago, perhaps 1870 or 1872. The first BOLLING who came to America was Colonel Robert BOLLING of London, England. I think old Cava BAKER made the rhyme on the "Cattle War," I have always heard it that way. Old Julius Bob BAKER and William NEAL were in St. Clair's defeat. BAKER held a Major's Commission. They are both buried at Buffalo, Owsley, County. NEAL requested to be buried beside BAKER. John GILBERT and John AMIS married sisters of James BOWLING [sic]. From Eli, John (grandfather of Judge Josiah Combs'S wife), Christopher, William, Joseph, Nancy (SIZEMORE) another sister of these, have descended most of the BOLLINGS in Clay County. Jesse BOLLING, my great grandfather married Mary PENNINGTON of Lee County, Va. He was born in North Carolina at Hillsboro. His father was born in Virginia. David PENNINGTON, her brother, was living during the War of the Rebellion. My grandfather, Elijah BOLLING stayed with him in Lee Co. during the late war. Jesse BOLLING had ten children as follows: Hannah married HUFF; Mary married Abram BARGER; Justice married ??; John married Polly LEWIS; Jesse married LEWIS for his second wife; William married a daughter of Daniel DUFF; Elijah married ROBERTS; George married LEWIS; a daughter married Joseph SPENCER; Betsey married Abel PENNINGTON; another married MAGGARD; another died single. A. P. HILL and Basil DUKE married sisters of John MORGAN. His mother was the daughter of John HUNT, the first millionaire in Kentucky. Dr. FOSTER of Kentucky was reared by Mrs. HUNT.

Additional Information: Judge Josiah H. Combs (s/o Jesse & Mary "Polly" BOLLING Combs), m Polly Ann MATTINGLY.

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Wood LYTTLE, Manchester [Clay Co], Ky April 13, 1898 (Excerpted from Dickey Diary, pages 2238-2243 from reel 3, transcribed by Researcher Leslie Gunter for Combs Researcher Debi Kendricks). "I acted as U. S. Deputy Marshal after the war. I arrested , perhaps more moon-shiners than any other man that ever served in the mountains. I caught several on the Middle Fork. Among them was Bill Combs. I took him to Wash Combs' and when we got him to the house he lay down and died. He had got a lick on his head by a falling tree which had fractured his skull. I suppose that the excitement caused his death. There were about 30 of us in the party. We hitched our horses at the foot of the mountain and went far up the hill and captured a still. It was an awful cold night, the hill was icy. I turned the still loose and it went down the mound makin fearful bounds and it reached the base of the mountain where our horses were hitched. Every one of them broke loose and we had a fearful time capturing them."

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Robert N. BAKER. (Excerpted from Dickey Diary, pages 2238-2243 from reel 3, pp. 2277-8).
"The following old people are now living in Perry County; Polly DUFF, Chavies up in 90; Felix STACEY, Asawam, in 80; James FIELDS, Avawam, in 80; Clinton Combs, Hazard about 90; James CAMPBELL, Hazard, 76; Elijak [Elijah Combs] CORNETT, Hazard 76; Ira COUCH, Avawam 75; (76?) (ds) Jesse BARGER (Middle Fork) Gay's Creek, 90; Campbell JOHNSON (Middle Fork) Gay's Creek, 90; Granville Combs (1), Hazard in 70; Old Bill STACEY, Hazard, 90; Andrew Combs, Hazard, 92; Old Ann BEGLEY was a YORL, mouth of Hell - for - Sartain, almost 100; her son Henry BEGLEY is good authority on a branch 2 miles below Cutshin. John J. GODSEY, Sassafrass in 80; his wife a Combs, a DUFF also lives. (2) Old man Joe WILDER died when I was almost 10 years old, 1866, 107 years old lacking a few days; was a Revolutionary soldier. His son Ewell WILDER still lives either in Clay or Owsley in the Buffalo Country. Mrs. Martha MOORE, Pad NAPIER'S mother though young, is remarkably well posted, Hazard, 60; Isaac BAKER, Hazard, 1844, but don't remember. Calvin SHEPHERD, moved to Leslie, McIntosh's Creek, 80; Eli Combs, Wooton's Creek in 60's but posted. (3) Old man HUFF, Middle Fork is living, very old."

Added Information:

  1. Granville Combs, s/o Nicholas Combs, Jr. and Elizabeth Combs, m last, Alice "Alsey" Combs, d/o Jesse & Polly BOLLING Combs, Sr.
  2. Re John J. GODSEY'S wife, see Lucinda Combs, possibly d/o Elijah "8" Combs, Sr.
  3. Reference is possibly to Elias Combs, possibly s/o Tarlton & Elizabeth ISON Combs; h/o Lucinda CORNETT, possibly d/o Robert B. and Louisa Combs Cornett.

(By D. Y. LYTTLE). "Sam CORNETT, the progenitor of the people of that name in the mountains came from Scott County, Virginia to Harlan County, Kentucky, and removed from there to Line Fork in Perry County. Also General Lige Combs, the progenitor of the large family of CombsES, could neither read nor write, but was a man of great intellect and force of character. He owned a great deal of land in Perry County. His son, Jesse, was the first clerk in Perry County. General, when asked by a woman in Frankfort how old he was, replied, "Madam, I have lived long enough to eat 500 bushels of hominy." (Dr. John J. Dickey Diary, Fleming County, Ky. Recorded in the 1870's and beyond. Reprinted in Kentucky Explorer, Volume 11, No.10, April, 1997, p. 80. By permission. Perry County. From Kentucky Biographies (Combs entry not indexed)

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