Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Beeks line: Richard Bodkin 1710-1773 Immigrant?

Richard Bodkin may or may not be the immigrant ancestor for his line.  No one seems to know for sure where he was born, but it seems to be either Pennsylvania/Virginia or Galway, Ireland.  There were several Bodkin families in America by the late 1600's, and there were also several families by that name in Ireland in the same time frame.  Many of the Irish people came to America as political and religious challenges from the British made life difficult in Ireland, and that motivation would have been in place for more than a few years. 

So, about the only thing we can say for sure at this point is that Richard was likely either Irish or of Irish extraction.  We can guess that he was Protestant only because the great majority of people who settled where he did were Protestant, many of them Presbyterian.  We don't even know his wife's name, although it is believed to be either Elizabeth or Jane, or possibly he was married more than once.  With so many questions, why am I writing about Richard?

Fortunately, a lot of good people have worked to find some of the details of his life and have been willing to put it on line.  The most complete story is found at ourtexasfamily.com website, under the Bodkin-Smith Family.  There are pictures of family documents there, and maps, and it's worth your while to go there to find out more.  As usual, I am only providing highlights of what is known and am not providing as much information as I could. 

Richard is known to have been settled in Augusta (later Highland County) County, Virginia by 1750, when he had a patent for 339 acres of land on Clover Creek, which was a branch of the Cowpasture River.  The next year, he signed a petition for a road from "Walles Asterns mill to road on head of Cowpasture" and was assigned to work on the road. In 1756, he was on a list of tithables, which only means that he had to pay a tax to the Anglican church.  It doesn't necessarily mean he belonged to the church.  I have seen him referred to as both a captain and a private in the Virginia militia about this same time.  Likely he is the captain and a son or nephew is the private. 

This reminds us that this part of the country was very much frontier country.  The battles of the French and Indian War were about to take place, and military protection was sometimes far away.  This was a time of fear and hardship, with many families leaving for sanctuary and traveling east, but we have no indication that Richard left, or that he sent his family away. 

Many of Richard's sons later moved westward, to what is now Highland County, Virginia, but it's not clear whether Richard went also or whether he stayed in his original home.  He died about 1773.  So far I haven't found a will for him.  He is believed to have had at least five sons, born from roughly 1734 to 1744.  It's possible there were more children, including daughters, but I've not found a reliable source yet.  Also, Richard had brothers who settled in the same general area so figuring out which Bodkin belonged to which is difficult.  To make matters worse, some of the family, somewhere along the line, changed the spelling to Botkin or Botkins. 

The brief picture we have of Richard is as a hard working husband and father, frontiersman, Appalachian, and soldier.  Even though we don't know anything more at this point, that is enough to be proud of, and to be grateful that men like Richard helped shape our country.

The line of descent is:

Richard Bodkin-Elizabeth or Jane
James Bodkin-Diannah or Delilah Hicklin
George Bodkin-Elizabeth Featheringill
Charity Botkin-Jackson Wise
Mary Wise-William Beeks
John Beeks-Elizabeth Wise
Wilbur Beeks-Cleo Aldridge
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants

Note:  As a reminder, Mary Wise may have been adopted.  But these are the people she would have learned about, and to her, these would have been "her people".