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Combs &c. and 
U. S. President George Washington

Updated 10 Oct 1999
Please Email Additions and/or Corrections to The Combs Research Group


A number of loose connections exist between the early Combs and Washington Families - dating back into the late 1600s in Old Rappahannock and Westmoreland Cos, VA and during and after both the Colonial and Revolutionary Wars (See also Fayette Co, PA).

The following documents were extracted from the George Washington Papers, part of the on-line American Memory Collection of the U. S. Library of Congress. The George Washington Papers (from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress), consists of approximately 65,000 documents. Both images and footnoted transcriptions are included in the collection, which is described as: "... ninety-five percent of extant Washington documents in the world. Document types in the collection as a whole include correspondence, letterbooks, commonplace books, diaries, journals, financial account books, military records, reports, and notes accumulated by Washington from 1741 through 1799. Commonplace books document Washington's youth. Correspondence and travel journals cover his early adulthood as a Virginia county surveyor and as colonel of the militia during the French and Indian War. Washington's election as delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses and his command of the American army during the Revolutionary war are well documented. Notes, correspondence, and journals record his two presidential administrations from 1789 through 1797. Because of the wide range of Washington's interests, activities, and correspondents, which included ordinary citizens as well as celebrated figures, his papers are a rich source for almost every aspect of colonial and early American history..."

The George Washington Papers consist of eight series:*

Series 1 Exercise Books and Diaries. 1741-1799.
Series 2 Letterbooks. 1754-1799.
Series 3 Letterbooks. Varick Transcripts: Continental Army Papers. 1775-1783.
Series 4 General Correspondence. 1697-1799.
Series 5 Financial Papers. 1750-1796.
Series 6 Military Papers. 1755-1798.
Series 7 Applications for Office. 1789-1796.
Series 8 Miscellaneous Papers. ca. 1775-1799.

*There is no one series in the Washington Papers that encompasses all of Washington's correspondence from beginning to end. Rather, correspondence is organized into series by two broad document types: letterbooks and individual letters. Bound letterbooks, in which Washington made, or had secretaries make, copies of letters he sent, can be found in Series 2 and Series 3 (By instruction of Washington, Richard Varick in the employ of Congress, created a series of "letterbooks" in 1781. At the time, Washington himself instructed Varick on the series into which he was to organize the copying of Revolutionary War correspondence into the letterbooks. Though this original organization was lost before the Library of Congress acquired the papers, the task and its result, forty-four volumes of letterbooks, survive in the form of Series 3). Loose, individual letters he received are organized chronologically in Series 4, General Correspondence. These, then, are two different types of correspondence series. Series can also be organized by subject matter. Series 5 consists of records explicitly relating to Washington's financial affairs, while Series 6 contains military records, ranging from the colonial campaigns in which he participated to his appointment in 1798, late in life, to command American forces in the event of a war with France. Series 7 is made up exclusively of letters of application for employment and appointment during Washington's presidency, arranged alphabetically. These kinds of series contain documents, such as financial account books in Series 5, and military orderly books in Series 6, that confine them to their subject matter. In contrast, correspondence can range over a variety of subjects. No collection of papers is complete without a series called "Miscellaneous." In the Washington Papers this is Series 8, which contains recipients' copies of some Washington letters, certificates, several land surveys, and notes, extracts, and forms.

Ed Note: The only changes made to transcriptions has been the CAPITALIZATION of all SURNAMES

Important: Only those of The George Washington Papers which have been transcribed are "searchable;" thus many more Combs &c. References are possibly yet to be located.

Index to Combs &c. of the George Washington Papers*


Introduction to Combs &c. and George WASHINGTON
Letter George WASHINGTON to John ASHBY, December 28, 1755
Thomas Combs, George Mercer's Company, August 2, 1756, Muster and Size Roll
Phillip Combs BROWN, Capt. Robt. McKenzie's Company, 1 Feb 1758
Joseph Combs to John KEATING, May 10, 1758, Bill
Account, Mr. Combs from FAIRFAX & WASHINGTON, Sep 10, 1767
Letter George WASHINGTON to William LIVINGSTON, March 3, 1777
Letter George WASHINGTON to David FORMAN, January 20, 1778
Letter George WASHINGTON to John F. MERCER, November 6, 1786
Letter George WASHINGTON to John F. MERCER, November 24, 1786

Letter George WASHINGTON to John ASHBY, December 28, 1755

George Washington Papers Series 2 Letterbooks. (Original transcription from The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.--vol. 01; re-transcribed by Combs Researcher C. Hammet, 25 Mar 1999)

Letters, Orders and Instructions, December 1755

To Captain John ASHBY of the second Company of Rangers

 I am very much surprized to hear the great irregularities which were allowed of in your Camp. The Rum, although sold by Joseph COOMBS, I am credibly informed, is your property. There are continual complaints to me of the misbehaviour of your Wife; who I am told sows sedition among the men, and is chief of every mutiny. If she is not immediately sent from the Camp,- or I hear any more complaints of such irregular Behaviour upon my arrival there; I shall take care to drive her out myself, and suspend you.

It is impossible to get clothing here for your men. I think none so proper for Rangers as match-coats; therefore would advise you to procure them. Those who have not receive clothing, for the future will receive their full pay without stoppages; and those already made, will be repaid them.

 Those who have been clothed must either return them or allow stoppages. I would have you consult your men, and fall upon some method to supply them immediately. I have heard very great complaints about the mens pay; and that it has been misapplied: to prevent any for the future

 I Order, that you have your accompts with the men properly stated against I come up. And always after you make payments hereafter, to take two receipts from each man: one of which you are to have entered in a Book kept for that purpose, for your own use; the other must be taken upon a sheet of paper, and transmitted to me monthly.

 I have sent you one of the mutiny Bills which you are (as far as it relates to the men) to have frequently read to them. Further; acquaint them, that if any Soldier deserts, altho' he return himself, he shall be hanged.

Given Ye. at Winchester: December 28. 1755.


Document: and

Ed Note: Captain John ASHBY married 11 May 1741, Overwharton Parish, Stafford Co, VA, Jane Combs, d/o Joseph Combs I of Stafford Co, VA. The above-referenced Joseph Combs was her brother, Joseph Combs II, later of Loudoun Co, VA, but at the time Joseph and the Ashbys were all residing in Frederick Co, VA.

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George Mercer, August 2, 1756, Company Muster and Size Roll

George Washington Papers Series 4. General Correspondence. 1697-1799 (partially transcribed by Combs Research - not yet proofed)

A Size Roll of Capt. Mercer's Company August the 2d 1756
No. Men's Names when enlisted where enlisted Age Size 
feet inches
Trade Country Descriptions
23 Thomas COOMBS Octo: 10 1755 Culpeper 32 5' 6" Mason Maryland Fair Comp. full faced and stoops in the shoulders very much


Ed Note: Thomas COOMBS' is the earliest Combs record located in Culpeper Co, VA (est. from Orange in 1749), and he is not found again in that county. His is the only Culpeper enlistment included on this payroll, although there are a number of additional Marylanders, and the only enlistment on this date. He may have been the Thomas with wife, Sarah, who was in Frederick Co, VA in January of 1759 given (a) that a return for Mercer's troops in Sep 1756 was listed as Winchester which was then in Frederick Co (Document:, and (b) that Thomas Combs also signed (made his mark) to indicate that he had been paid for duty with Capt. Mercer's Company for both Sep and Oct 1856 (Documents: and

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Capt. Robert McKenzie, 1 Feb 1758, Necessary Roll, and undated Company Muster and Size Roll

1 Feb 1758. French & Indian Wars. A Necessary Roll of Capt. Robert McKENZIE'S Company. included:

Phil Comes BROWN.

Undated. Muster Roll of Capt. Robert McKENZIE'S Company. (partial transcription)
Mens' Names Age Size County Where Enlisted Country
Walter WILLIAMS 28 5 Ft. 4-1/2 In Westmoreland England Shoemaker 
Phillip Combs BROWN 20 5 Ft. 4-1/2 In do Virginia  --
Thomas COTTON 21 5 Ft. 2-1/2 In do do  --
John BRITTON 30 5 Ft. 6 In do Ireland Taylor


Notes: Capt. Robert McKENZIE was commissioned on 04 Sep 1755. Other references to McKenzie in the Washington Papers range from Aug 1755 (Tobe Pearsall's Fort) through Apr 1758 (Fort Pleasants). Payroll receipts from Feb - Aug 1756 include no Phillip BROWN (where legible). Nor do Jul 1756 muster roll. 1757 not yet checked except that a report of stores to Washington from McKenzie in Aug 1757 (Fort Pearsalls), did not include Phillip Combs Brown's name. No reports exist for 1758. On 13 Jul 1756 from Fort Cumberland, Washington wrote to McKenzie: "You are to proceed with your Company to the Fort, now commanded by Captain William COX; and take the command of it until the Militia at Pearsalls, &c. are discharged which will be as soon as Harvest is over."

The above names were listed consecutively as indicated. Names above and below these 4 did not show a Westmoreland Co VA residence. Given the marriage of Manly BROWN (bef 1731) to a daughter of Phillip Combs of Westmoreland, it would seem quite possible (not researched) that the above Philip Combs BROWN might have been a son of Manly BROWN, and gs/o Phillip Combs.

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Joseph Combs to John KEATING, May 10, 1758, Bill

George Washington Papers Series 4. General Correspondence. 1697-1799 (Not yet transcribed by Combs Research, but includes "corn 1 gallon" which apparently refers to whiskey)


Ed. Note: It appears that General Washington's men, in this case John KEATING, were not as opposed to Joseph Combs' liquor as was the general (See 1755 above). Also note that on 9 May 1758 a bill was submitted by a Robert ASHBY for yet another gallon of corn for KEATING (

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Letter George WASHINGTON to William LIVINGSTON, March 3, 1777

George Washington Papers Series 3c Varick Transcripts. (Originally transcribed in "The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799," John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.--vol. 07, and only partially proofed by Combs Research at this time)

To Governor LIVINGSTON New Jersey
Sir Head Quarters, Morris Town, March 3, 1777
The honor of receiving your favors of the 20th and 22d Ulto., I am now to acknowledge.

 Some time past, Colo SHREVE had my peremptory Order to march with such of his Battalion as was their inlisted; I therefore expected him every day, till your Letter of the 20th. informed me that he was then at Burlington. He has my orders repeated, to March immediately to Princeton, there to remain under General PUTNAM, till he hears farther from me.--Your opinion of him is perhaps too well founded.

 I fear it is not in my power, to give so full and Satisfactory an Answer to your request, "to explain the nature of the Oath administred by virtue of my Proclamation," as you may expect. What the Stile of it was, as administered by the Brigadiers, to whom that Business was chiefly assigned, I can't precisely tell. My instructions to them were, to insist on nothing more than an Obligation in no manner to injure the States, without adverting to the form prescribed by any Law of this; Had I known of any particular form adopted to the Circumstances of its Inhabitants, I would most certainly have ordered it.12

To remedy the Abuses which frequent Complaints had informed me were practised by the Troops Stationed at the Ferries upon Delaware, I have some time since Ordered all the Boats, from Trenton upwards, to be collected at Coryell's Ferry and placed under an Officer of approved Character, with a Strong Guard; whose orders are such, as will render the passage of the Inhabitants easy and expeditious, and at the same time Secure the Boats from the possibility of falling into the Enemy's hands.--Orders Similar to these, General GATES has, respecting those below.--An Obedience to these Orders will I hope, answer every good Purpose; But should it not, I will adopt any other Mode, which you shall think will Answer the purpose.--

Robert COMBS, a tavern keeper in Pennington, can inform you, of a Rape committed on the Wife and Daughter of one John CHRISTOPHER, by the Enemy while they lay there; One Philip PARMER'S daughter of that Neighbourhood, was also ravished by 6 Soldiers; Thomas KEYNE'S daughter was treated in the same Manner.--Those facts I did not particularly recollect at the time of writing to you on the Subject of the Enemy's brutality.--I have since found the Memorandums that were taken when our Army lay on the other side of the Delaware.

The Enemy remain much in the same Situation they did when I wrote you last. from a Number of concurring Circumstances, and Corresponding Accounts, I am led to believe that the Enemy's loss in killed and Wounded on the 23d Ulto, cannot be less than 100; Seven Prisoners were made at the same time. Our innoculated Soldiers have the Disorder much lighter than could be reasonable expected; from present appearances we shall not loose a Man. I am --- Your Most Obt Srvt

P.S. Capt. THURSTON with the 3 Volunteer Companies from Virginia and some Maryland Militia had an Engagement near Piscataway, on the 1st. Instant; the Effect has not yet reached me; the Captain was much Wounded in the Arm. 3 of his Party were killed and 7 Wounded.13

Documents:;; and

Ed. Note: Fitzpatrick's Footnote 12 stated: "LIVINGSTON'S letter (February 22) inclosed a proceeding of the New Jersey Legislature requesting the governor to write to Washington and obtain the form of the oath prescribed by his proclamation. This letter is in the Washington Papers." His Footnote: 13 stated: "The draft is in the writing of George JOHNSTON." Presumably, the town of Pennington (as referred to above) was Hunterdon Co, NJ (present-day Mercer Co, NJ).* On 25 Mar 1772, one Robert COMBS of then-Middlesex Co, NJ and a "Hulda COMBES [sic] of Pennington" took out a New Jersey marriage license.

*A second town of Pennington is in Huntingdon Co, PA.

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Account, Mr. Combs from FAIRFAX & WASHINGTON, Sep 10, 1767

6 Sep 1767 Warm Springs, Frederick Co, VA. "Expenses in going to, from, and at the Springs"
To Messrs. COMBS and HEREFORD [HAREFORD?] for Oats. 0.10.0 Maryland [currency]
David WHITE Pasturage & Butter 0.15.0 Maryland
William HEATH Ditto & Oats &c. 4.4.1 Maryland
BAKER the day we came away 0.1.? Maryland
RAWLINGS feed & horses 0.3.9 Maryland
[Paid] By George Wm. FAIRFAX Esq. for one half. By Geo. WASHINGTON for the other.


Ed. Note: Warm Springs was then in Frederick Co, VA, but in 1772 became part of Berkeley Co, VA, and in 1820, Morgan Co, VA (now WV). The mouth of the run was directly across the Potomac from the mouth of Tonoloways Creek in then Frederick Co, MD (now Washington), and only a few miles south of Coombs Fort of the Tonoloways Settlement. Mr. Combs was probably Joseph COMBES whose Warm Springs land was adjacent to that of George William FAIRFAX.

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Letter George WASHINGTON to David FORMAN, January 20, 1778

Transcription from The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.--vol. 10 (not yet proofed or re-transcribed by Combs Research)

To B. General FORMAN N. Jersey Militia
Dear Sir Head Quarters, Valley Forge, January 20, 1778.
I have not yet received an answer respecting the Guard for the Salt Works Solicited in your Memorial. Till you hear further from me upon the subject, you may detain a Captain, two subalterns and Sixty men of the detachment of your Regiment now in Monmouth, for the purpose of Guarding the works, the remainder be pleased to send forward to Camp with Captain COMBES,62 with whom be pleased to send the Cloathing of those men who are already here.63

I am ---- Yours, &c. G. WASHINGTON


Ed. Note: Fitzpatrick's Footnote 62 states: "Capt. John COMBES (Combs), of Forman's Additional Continental regiment." His Footnote 63 states: "The draft is in the writing of Caleb GIBBS." Little is known of Capt. John COMBS of General David Forman's New Jersey Regiment as yet (See Northern Capt. (John?) COMBS &c. - Misc. Rev. War Records)

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Letter George WASHINGTON to John F. Mercer, November 6, 1786

George Washington Papers Series 2 Letterbooks. (Originally transcribed in "The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799" by John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.--vol. 29, and only partially proofed/re-transcribed by Combs Research).
November - 1786 
John F. MERCER, Esquire
Dr. Sir:
It was not 'till after you had left this place, that I received your letter of the 4th. ulto. Altho' I have great repugnance to encreasing my Slaves by purchase; yet as it seems so inconvenient to you to make payment by other modes than those you have proposed, and so injurious as not to be accomplished at a less loss than fifty or more Pr. Ct. I will take six, or more negroes of you, if you can spare such as will answer my purpose; upon the terms offered in your former letter. The negroes I want are males: three or four young fellows for Ditchers; and the like number of well grown lads for artificers. It is for you to determine whether you can supply me with such negroes. If you agree to do it, and will appoint a time, I would send for them, relying on your word, that the whole are healthy, and none of them addicted to runing away. The latter I abominate; and unhealthy negroes, woman, or children would not suit my purposes on any terms.

If you accede to this proposition I will extend it. I will take all the good and merchantable wheat and indian Corn you may have for sale, at a reasonable price (the first immediately, the latter at a proper time), and Military Certificates of this State for the balance of my claim, at the difference which really exists between them and specie; altho' I never intended to possess one of them on any terms whatever in a depreciated state. If these proposals are agreeable to you in all their parts, I should be glad to receive a decided and speedy answer; because in that case I will no longer look to you for the means of discharging those Debts I have enumerated to you, and to do which I am exceedingly anxious, but will endeavour without more delay, to sell land to enable me to pay them.

I had written thus far, when Colo. SIMMS called, on his way from Charles Coty. Court, to obtain some information respecting your suit against COMBS. I was naturally led by the interest I thought I had in this business, to enquire into the state of it; and was told, if Mr. ELLZEY'S absence did not impede the sitting of Loudoun Court, he expected next week to obtain judgments for more than a thousand pounds: but guess Sir, what my surprize must have been, when he added that every shilling of this money was assigned to a Mr. COLSTON, and authority given to receive it as fast as it could be recovered. I had flattered myself that my forbearance for near fifteen years, and the disposition I have discovered (since the negotiation of the business seems to have got into your hands) to accommodate my wants as much as I possibly could to your convenience, merited more candid treatment. You cannot, I think, have forgotten the repeated assurances you have given me, that the monies arising from this fund should be sacredly appropriated to the discharge of my claim, whilst any of it remained. If this was possible, your letters in my possession would explicitly remind you of them. A conduct so extreamly unfair, ungenerous, and disingenuous, I cou'd not suffer to pass over unnoticed.

I send herewith the remainder of the blank Deeds which were formerly put into my hands by your brother James MERCER Esqr., as also the survey and partition of the Shannandoah tract, into the Lotts by which the land was sold, that you may fill them up as occasion may require. If it is absolutely necessary for me to sign the Deeds for conveyance of these Lotts, now the business by a decree of the high Court of Chancery is taken out of my hands & put into your's, I will do it; otherwise, having stronger reasons than ever against resuming any agency in this business I would wish to decline it.

I am etc.

Mount Vernon
6th Novr 1786.
End [scrawled at an angle]


Ed. Note: Fitzpatrick's footnote does not include all of the above, and further, a footnote (numbered 52 in this collection) states: From the "Letter Book" copy in the Washington Papers. The portion in brackets is from a facsimile in a sales catalogue, 1936. The portion in brackets included part of the above and the following paragraph apparently included prior to the signature:

"Your letter of the 21st. Ulto. requesting me to execute a Deed to Mr. Rawleigh COLSTON, for the lott No. 7, has been delivered to me. You now will receive the only Deeds in my possession, and the Survey of the Shanondoah tract; and can do with them as circumstances may require. If it is indispensably necessary for me to convey the title, and you shall accompany the return of the Deed with authority for me to do so, I will go to Alexa. and execute it before evidences who will prove it in Fredk. Ct.
"See note on p. 24, ante, regarding a letter dated Nov. 8, 1786, addressed to William HETH."

Ed. Note: See next.

Letter George WASHINGTON to John F. MERCER, November 24, 1786

George Washington Papers Series 2 Letterbooks. Originally transcribed in "The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799," by John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.--vol. 29 (only partially re-transcribed/proofed by Combs Research)
November - 1786
John F.[??] MERCER, Esquire
Your servant having this moment put your letter of the 20th. inst: into my hands, and appearing to be in a great haste; I shall not detain him, especially as it is neither my wish nor intention to enter on the justification of my last to you.

The evidence, on which the charge of unfairness &ca. was grounded, you have enclosed in Colo. SYMM'S own hand writing, (the amount of the other bonds in his possession appeared to me to be very trifling). The propriety, or impropriety of this charge, after this transcript and information is given, you are to judge; and whether COMBS'S bond is not among those assigned to Mr. COLSTON. HICKMANS, a considerable debt, must also have been under this predicament, or COLSTON'S application to me for a Deed was very improper.

I would fain hope that there is not a greater impropriety in my receiving interest on a bonded debt, which lay years without having any part of the principal or interest paid, than is to be found in others; especially when the very fund you assured me should be applied to the payment thereof, you are recovering with interest. But I will have done with this subject, and never more shall give you the trouble of hearing any further observations of mine thereon. What rough expression of mine to you at Richmond has been industriously reported, is for me yet to learn. Your letter conveys the first most distant hint I have ever heard of the matter; I certainly ought therefore to stand acquitted of having any agency in the circulation of it, if I was so ungenteel as to have offered any.

 I profess an entire ignorance of the real difference between military Certificates and specie; for never having had inclination or intention to deal in them, and rarely going from home, I have not been in the way of obtaining information on this subject. Nevertheless, I will take two thousand pounds of Virginia military Certificates at the price you offer, viz: four for one, so as to discharge five hundred pounds of my claim, and I will take 400 or more barrels of Indian Corn, provided a price is now fixed that I can obtain it at. and for your information I add that any quantity, I am told, may be had at 10/ Maryland Curry. per barrel. Colo. HOOE thinks less. If this price accords with your ideas, in order to ascertain the point decidedly, I will give it; but assure you at the same time that your disposing of it to any other and paying the amot. in money to me, would be quite as agreeable to me. Your accomodation was all I had in view, my own crop is, I presume, adequate to my consumption. With respect to the negroes, I conclude it is not in my power to answer your wishes, because it is as much against my inclination as it can be against your's, to hurt the feelings of those unhappy people by a separation of man and wife, or of families; because no others than such as I enumerated in my last will answer my purposes, and because the price exceeds what I supposed negroes would sell for in ready money; for, in this as with Certificates, having had no intention to buy, I have made no enquiry into the price they sold at; but conceived that for ready money the best labouring negroes (which are the kind I wanted) might have been had for £60, £70, or at most £75. Upon the whole then, for the balance, I must take payment in the manner formerly mentioned by you at this place, unless you should think that young Bob, (who has only a father without a wife) Tom the baker, Nessey and David, and James and Valentine (if of sufficient size to go to trades) could be separated without much uneasiness, and the prices of them, if not really the ready money prices, cou'd be abated.

Your reply to this letter soon would be satisfactory, for I have just hired a compleat Ditcher with a view of putting several hands under him, and wish to know my prospects for it. 

I am Sir, etc.

Mount Vernon
24th Novr 1786.
P. S. I rece'd, enclosed in your letter, 2 half Joes, and 7 guineas, £ in part payment, I presume, of the 15 guineas lent you.89

Documents:; and

Ed. Note: See also 6 Nov 1786 letter immediately preceding this one. Fitzpatrick's Footnote 89 states: "From the "Letter Book" copy in the Washington Papers." Mr. Combs has not yet been identified, but references to Shenandoah and Loudoun may be an indication that this was Joseph COMBS of Frederick and Loudoun Cos, VA (See other references this collection). In a letter to Rawleigh COLSTON dated 4 Dec 1786 refers to Col. George MERCER, deceased, and Col. John F. MERCER and James MERCER, his brother (were they sons of George MERCER who was Capt. of 1756 company in which Thomas COMBS served?) and to the sale to COLSTON of a lot previously sold to [Joseph] HICKMAN. No mention is made of COMBS. See Combs Land of Loudoun Co, VA re Combs-Ellzey and note William HEATH (a.k.a. HETH?) of Warm Springs Run in this collection.

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