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Allen Brothers Story

There have been several stores concerning the origins of "BOAT(W)RIGHT's" in America. One of the most persistent has been the story of the "ALLEN" brothers. Recently, I have been in contact with Ron Boatright, Orange Park, Florida who has undertaken an intensive search for ancestors of JAMES BOATRIGHT and his siblings. Ron feels that the "ALLEN brothers" story is apocryphal. Although he has no firm documentation, he has compiled considerable circumstantial evidence with the help of professional researchers indicating that BENONI BOATWRIGHT, b. ca 1710, in Virginia was the father of JAMES and probably two other sons...DANIEL (b. ca. 1739) and JESSE.

Dennis G. Boatright
Friendswood, TX
April, 15, 1998

DNA testing of various branches of today's Boat(w)right family indicates that the Allen brothers story is false. - George Boatright

The following information is provided by David C. Rains:

In an undated letter from Martha E.J. Boatright Hamor Chitty to her sister, Rietta Jehoshebeath Boatright Johnson, Martha discusses the family history as she knows it. These ladies were granddaughters of the James Boatwright of Cumberland County, Virginia, who was married to Elizabeth Kidd, and who, upon her death, married her sister Mary Kidd. Martha's father was Chesley Hood Boatright, the youngest child of James. Verna Boatright Milstead, received a copy of this letter from Ruth Boatright Parker of Hobbs, New Mexico, a great great granddaughter of Chesley Hood Boatright. Mrs. Parker obtained a typed copy of the letter from Opal Johnson Cook, of Little Rock, Arkansas. Mrs. Cook had copied it from the original letter which belonged to an Aunt in Missouri. The location of the original is unknown as this is written in 1998.

In the letter to her sister, Martha states:

"Well, now for all that I can tell you about where our Boatwright ancestors came from; three brothers, Daniel, Jesse, and James Allen (English) stood buckled in armor to guard the life of King George of England, always standing in the king's court. They heard much of the new world, as this Western continent was then called. There was no freedom for men whose services the king required. They could not marry nor own property. They were slaves to the king for as long as they lived. The 3 brothers skipped their bondage and came to America. They took up the trade of boat building and took the name Boatwright. James and Jesse married. Daniel did not. The brothers fought for American liberty in the Revolution from King George. Two of our father's brothers were soldiers in 1812 to 1815.

James was our great grandfather (English). Our grandfather was named James. His first wife, Elizabeth Kidd, his second wife Mary Kidd. Our grandmother--[letter is torn here]. They lived in Virginia. After our grandfather died, his sons scattered into different states. They are scattered, I suppose, in every state; never were much to huddle together. I don't know where the three brothers landed on the American shore, nor the exact date.

They were here in time to do their part in freeing Young America from the British rule, but they took the name Boatwright in the new country to protect themselves from the King's officers that were in power before the revolution that freed Americans from a tyrant across the sea. I have always been proud of their love of freedom and their determination to succeed, even to leaving their old English name and taking a purely American name & chose to labor with free people rather than stand as a slave in the King's palace. Yes, children, I am proud of the blood. I don't know of any record except what Father kept of his own family. I know two of his brothers fought the British and Indians 100 years ago. I don't have an idea of who has a record, other than you. I hope you will write soon to your Sister,

Martha E.J. Chitty"

Information supporting this version of our line of the Boat(w)right family was also found in Goodspeed's "History of Northwest Arkansas", which was published in 1889. This information is quoted in the "notes" section on the family page of Chesley Hood Boatwright, the youngest son of James Boatwright (born abt. 1745) of Cumberland County, Virginia. According to her, a brother, Daniel, never married and nor had any children. The genealogy of James' son, also named James, is a part of this family history and is relatively complete.

There are references that have been found to several Boatwrights of whom we either have little or no knowledge, or are not able to positively identify, who lived during this time period in the same area of Virginia. Different documents, land records, etc., mention a John Baughtwright in 1704 in New Kent County, a Thomas Bootwright in 1735-1736 in Henrico County, and a Thomas Boatwright again in 1751 in the same area.

The U.S. Census of 1782-85 gives a William, Jesse, and James Boatwright as living in Cumberland County. We know who Jesse and James are, but are uncertain as to the parentage and other relationships of William.

A number of Boat(w)right family researchers have speculated that the above mentioned Thomas Boatwright is the father of our James and/or the Daniel Boatwright who married Jane Martin about 1757-1758. I do not agree with this speculation for the following reasons:

1. The above quoted letter makes it clear that the father of our James was also named James.

2. It was the custom of the times to name at least one male child after the grandfather, father, and/or uncles. None of either James' or Daniel's children or grandchildren is named Thomas. Furthermore, none of the family records such as those mentioned above or any of the existing Bible records mentions a Thomas Boatwright. Also, many of Thomas' descendants in the Carolinas and Georgia are named Thomas, but no other Thomas Boatwrights are found in the Cumberland County area of Virginia.

3. Thomas apparently moved from Virginia to the Carolinas between 1751-1755. James, born about 1745, would have been much to young to leave by himself, but we have no information which indicates our James ever lived anywhere but Virginia.

Cumberland County records contain the will of Daniel Boatwright, born about 1739, probated March 26, 1798, in which he mentions his wife Jane, sons John, James, and Valentine, and daughters Jane Smith, Elizabeth Martin, Esther Martin, Nancy Miller, Rhoda, and Lockey.

Based upon the time frame and residence in Cumberland County, we must assume that Daniel is the son of either Jesse or James, two of the original brothers who came from England. If one accepts the alternate version of the Allen story, then he could be the son of John. He may also be the brother of our James, but as with Jesse, there is no hard evidence of that available to us at this time.


David C. Rains

Ruth Boatright Parker, Verna Boatright Milstead, Robert Guy Boatright, Dennis Guy Boatright, W.E. Boatright, and "Boat(w)right Family of the Southeastern United States" by Norman Hurd Ricker, Jr.

Author: Ricker, Norman H. Title: "Index & Outline: The Boat(w)right and Allied Families" Publication: LDS Library, Salt lake City, Utah, 1989 Note: Material Compiled by Lt. Col. Wm. E. Boatright, Cabool, Missouri Repository: Page: p. 90

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last modified: September 21, 2009


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