The Berry Family

From: toni <>

Hello Bob,

I think you're doing great with the list...I do have a question...I am a descendant of Francis Berry, b, 1754-1755, birthplace unknown, and Sarah "Sally" Sharp, b. Dauphine County, PA, daughter of John Sharp, both taken captive at Martin's Station. I have just recently come into possession of this information, researched over a 30 year period by Patricia Mayo, a Berry descendant.

On your Captives list page, you have listed Francis Berry and Mrs. Nelly Sharp Berry and children. Could this name Nelly, as used here, be incorrect? The name of the two children that were captured with Francis and Sally are John Westley Berry and Isabelle Berry. Another child, Lewis, was born in captivity. I can send you the email address for Ms. Patricia Mayo (she is an 82 year old lady) and/or the email address for the person she turned all of her information over to, Mike Schmeer, if you need clarification on this.

Keep up the good work...

Toni F. Francisco

Francis Berry's Land Acquisition

Name: Francis BERRY [1]
Birth: 1754-1755 England
Death: before October 8, 1819 Age: 65
Death Memo: Sullivan County, Tennessee?
Military: Revolutionary War
Military Memo: Fought at King's Mountain.

by Mrs. Adelaide Berry Duncan

Written to her youngest son, George Duncan

September 11, 1893

Dear George: Your papa's grandfather and grandmother, John and Nellie Duncan, and grandfather and grandmother, Frank and Sally Berry moved from Virginia during the Revolutionary War to Kentucky. I don't know just where, but it was somewhere in the best part of the state. There was quite a little colony of them but I do not know the names of any except these families. They took up claims of land and complied with what was necessary to secure their claims. I don't know what it was nor how long they had been there til they were compelled to move for safety to a fort or blockhouse where they were taken by British officers and soldiers who had Indians with them to whom the British gave all their household goods except two suits of clothes and two blankets to each man and the same to each woman.

I remember hearing my grandmother tell how the Indians would toss the pillows in the air after they had ripped the ticking to make the feathers fly in the wind and how they would laugh. They wanted the cloth but not the feathers.

They then started on their march to Detroit, where they stayed awhile and then on to Montreal where they stayed until peace was declared. They were liberated to get back as best they could. There was one family along who had a young woman, a daughter who complained of a toothache for some weeks. When someone examined her mouth, they found a cancer had eaten through her cheek, all but the skin. She died soon after and the officers only allowed them to stop long enough to pile up a few rocks on her body. Charles Gatliffe was the father's name. He came back to Kentucky and I saw him after he was eighty years of age. I also saw two of his daughters, Betsy Martin and Sally Feris. I also saw his sons, Moses, Aaron, Reece, Jim and Cornelius. I suppose Joe remembers having seen one of his grandsons, Charles Gatliffe, who moved to Missouri a short time before we left Iowa for Princeton. His wife was papa's cousin, Polly Early, and your Uncle Harvey Green married their daughter, Lillian.

I heard my grandmother say she saw the Indians kill two children. It was very cold for part of their journey and once when a great fire of logs was burning where they camped, an Indian picked up a child that was standing near and threw it on the fire. No one dared to try to get it out. On another occasion, a woman was carrying a little babe and she was almost exhausted when an Indian jerked it from her arms and thrust his tomahawk in its head and threw the child to one side of the road and drove her on.

While they were in Montreal, the men were made to repair the English ships and the women cooked and washed for the English officers. On one occasion, the men found a case of wine on the ship and drank the wine. The officers put them in prison or the guard house and my grandmother Berry went to the guard house and begged for their release until they were released. I don't know what their punishment would have been.

I don't know if any of the young men were put on the English ships to make them fight against their own country or not. Your Grandfather Duncan and four other young men were going to be put on a man-of-war in the morning and your grandfather's oldest sister baked bread and fixed up some provisions. They stole a canoe and crossed the St. Lawrence to the American side and got away. They traveled through the hostile Indian country til they reached the settlement in Pennsylvania. On the outskirts of the settlement they found a deserted place, an iron pot, and a potato patch. I heard your father tell how they boiled potatoes and ate with such appetites. Your Grandmother Duncan told me that their friends did not know, til after peace and they returned from Montreal whether these young men were drowned in the St. Lawrence, whether they were killed by Indians, whether they were lost in the wilderness and perished, or whether they were safe. She did not know the name of a single one of her husband's companions and I never heard her say who they were. I am sorry I did not ask your Uncle Harve Duncan for he may have known. I do not know whether there was any fighting at the fort or not in Kentucky or whether they surrendered to the greater number without fighting.

All the way, I can approximate the time they moved from Virginia to Kentucky. My Grandfather Berry fought in the battle at King's Mountain and he was also a scout before they moved to Kentucky. After my papa got to practicing law, he got a pension from a Duncan McFarland who was a scout with my grandfather. I remember how the hair seemed to stand on my head as I lay in my trundle bed and listened to McFarland tell papa of their exploits. At one time, he and a Charlie Miller ran with the Indians after them thirty miles to a blockhouse.

As the prisoners were leaving Canada, they crossed some lake in a ship which was very crowded and manned by French-Canadian sailors. A storm arose and the sailors got frightened and quit work. They started to pray and cross themselves when an Englishman, perhaps an officer came on them and cursed and swore and ripped and tore around and kicked them and made them get to work. Finally, they got safely to land. I remember hearing grandfather tell of hearing his father laughing about it. Grandmother said there were piles of feathers-floating in the eddies of the lake shore that looked like white houses; the shedding of many waterfowls on the lake.

My Uncle Lewis Berry was born in Montreal. He died in the American Army in the War of 1812. As our ancestors were coming home, they passed the Niagara Falls. All heard its roar and some of the men went to see it but the women and children were too weary to go. They went back to Kentucky to where they had been captured and found men on their claims. Both your great grandfathers, John Duncan and Frank Berry, sued at law for their claims but lost their suit. Berry's long tongue made him say the judge was a perjured scoundrel. The judge sued him for slander and got judgement for eight hundred dollars.

Then, the poor-weary souls went back to Virginia where they had lived before they went to Kentucky and raised their families there.

Quite a number of the children afterwards moved to Whitley County, KY where your papa and I were born and raised and married. My Grandmother Berry, in her old age, also came there and died in 1834. 1 only remember of seeing your Grandfather Duncan twice. Alec Laughlin, your Papa's cousin, married in Whitley Co. and moved to Tennessee where Elinor Litton was born. He came back on a visit and stopped at his Uncle's (your Grandfather Duncan's) and they both came to Watt's Creek where my papa and your papa's Uncle Tommy Laughlin lived.

They stopped at our house and it was a hot day and your Aunt Candice and I had taken off our dresses and were running around in our chemises, which were long and long sleeved. They came on us unaware and we went to the back of the house and sat on a chest while they laughed at us. I remember how your grandfather looked. He was very much the make and size of your papa but his hair was black and I think his eyes were blue. I afterwards saw him riding past our house on a white horse. He wore a high bell crowned hat and a blue jeans frock coat. (I have seen the hat and coat after I was married and ridden the white mare whose name was Ginger.) He was a dear nephew to my grandmother and I know she loved him. I know my papa loved him too. He died from dry salivation caused by taking a dose of calomel measured out on a case knife blade by an old woman who had more confidence in herself then good sense. I remember when word came to us that Johnny Duncan was dying. My papa hurried off and took a handful of nails. Mama asked him what he did that for. He said to put in the coffin. Years afterwards, I learned that was an old country superstition but its meaning I never heard. He got there in time to write his will before he died and moved him after his death. He had been dead six years when your papa and I were married; that would have made his death to have occurred in 1832. Your papa and I lived with your Grandmother Duncan the first year after we were married and she loved to talk about him. She said he was a remarkably strong man for his size. When he was a young man, it was the custom for the neighbors to all unite and help each other cut small grain with sickles and the young women would do the cooking and sometimes they would go to the fields and use the sickles to good purpose. Then, each night they would have a dance. Your grandmother said your grandfather worked all day and danced all night for two days and two nights without sleep. I don't believe his sons or grandsons or great grandson could do that, even if they can ride a bicycle.

I don't know whether the Gatliff family moved from Virginia or Tennessee to Kentucky or not. I only know that they were together in their captivity. I don't know whether the British gave them any money to get home on or not. Grandfather Berry never paid the $800. He somehow got a farm in Sullivan County, Tennessee where his family was raised, but it was always in-the name of Billy King, grandmother sister's husband.' My papa said your Grandfather Duncan was so far gone when he got there he was in no condition to make a will, but your Uncle Harvey and Joe Duncan said for your grandmother's sake, to have it done to not add to her distress by breaking up her home by taking two thirds of everything, the farm, the Negroes, and dividing it amongst the children, as they knew your Uncle Joe Sullivan would insist on doing if there was no will. So, the will was written giving your grandmother everything, the farm, the Negroes and everything else as long as she lived and at her death all was to be equally divided amongst the children. I guess it was pretty hard for Sullivan not to try and break the will. After I was married, I heard your Aunt Mareissa say "the children ought to have had the little that was coming to them a long time ago." But he knew that your Uncle Harve and Joe would not give him any child's play if he undertook the law with them. They were the executors.

Well, as I am writing in order, seems I will shift the plot and go to Maine on the Kennebee River. One night, Lincoln Ryder was with us til bedtime and he and Lillie got to telling of their ancestors. Lillie started and made me tell of your grandfather's escape from Montreal. He told of one of his grandfather's straying too far from the settlement up the Kennebee and being captured by the Indians and kept about a year. They treated him kindly in their way and got to trusting him to some extent. On a cold day, when the river was frozen over, they were skating with Indian skates and after a while, had him try it. He was very awkward and stumbled and fell and gave them great amusement til he saw his chance. He then bid them good-bye and struck out down the river. He watched when none of then had their skates on and got away but they shot arrows at him and at his feet to entangle them with the arrows but he got away safely home.

At one time, there were four generations living at his father's house; a great-grandfather, his grandparents, his parents, and their children. His grandmother lived to be I think one hundred and four years old. The manager of the county fair had her put on the platform to exhibit herself after she was a hundred years' old. I heard my Papa tell of a man getting away from those who had him in custody and by the same kind of skating maneuver, but I think he was a criminal and got away from officers. Lillie wanted to know afterwards why I didn't tell my story . I told her I believed he was telling the truth and if I told my story, he would have thought perhaps that I did not believe him and was capping off one big story with another.

If I were back to ten or twelve years of age and knew more than I did then, how I would ply my grandmother and parents with questions.

I guess I will close my pioneer stories.- Nellie Duncan and Sally Berry were sisters. Sharp was their name before they were married.

Much love to all,

2nd Letter

Sunday P.M.

Sept.17, 1893

Dear George:

In looking over your letter, I find I did not answer all your questions. I don't know whether your Grandfather Duncan was much of a woodsman or not or whether he was much of a hunter for I think I would have heard talk of it if he had been.

Your grandmother's oldest brother, Tommy Laughlin, was a great hunter. His children used to sit on the woodpile when he went out with his gun and listen to hear a shot and then each would claim separate parts of the deer, such as the milt, the heart, the liver, or the ribs. Isaac King, his son-in-law, told this and he said he neglected his cornfield to hunt, like my papa did. I don't believe your Grandfather Duncan did this.

I don't know how long they were in the wilderness nor whether the family got together in Kentucky or not til after the old folks went back to Virginia.

Decatur Dryden's mother was the first child my Grandmother Berry had after her return from captivity and it may be he has heard her tell things she certainly heard her mother talk of.

Before our ancestors moved to Kentucky, they in Virginia, had to seek safety in a blockhouse. Your Grandmother Duncan told me this after I was married. She was a little girl and was drinking sweet sap, that was dripping from a sugar tree near her father's house. She had left one shoe and stocking in the house and a runner came galloping by calling out, "To the blockade house, the Indians are coming". Her father picked her up and poor lame man that he was, carried in her arms. By the time they got pretty near the blockhouse there was quite a crowd of neighbors. They stopped to drink at a little stream and your grandmother's little tin cup that had in her hand was all they had to drink out of. One woman pulled off her shoe and gave her children a drink out of it.

I do now know whether your Grandfather Duncan's family was in the blockhouse or not. My Grandfather and Grandmother Berry were; also Billy King whose wife was Betty Sharp before she was married.

There were five men killed by the Indians while they stayed in the blockhouse. They would go to their fields to get food and those inside would hear the shooting, and after a while, would go out and bring in their slain friends. They tied their feet together; also their hands and on a pole, then, two men would carry them. Your grandmother told of one poor German woman whose son Fritz was all the family she had. He was brought in that way. Your old grandmother would choke and stop, then with tears running down her cheeks, would tell how this poor woman would wring her hands and say, "Oh, my Fritz, my Fritz."

This Billy King was the one who afterwards held the deed to Grandfather Berry's farm. I heard Mama say he was as faithful as if grandmother's children had been his own, never took advantage of them. Your grandmother told me that one Sunday morning in the blockhouse, he dressed in his clean white flax linen pants and hunting shirt and laid the corner of his hunting shirt across his knee and took Isaac, his baby, on his knee. The baby had bowel complaint and stained his hunting shirt. He jumped up and tore around as if the Indians were after him.

my grandmother and his wife flew at him and got the baby away and the hunting shirt off him for he took out his knife and they had hard work to keep him from cutting off the corner that was so badly soiled. Did any of them ever think that any of their descendents would write this down more than a hundred years after it occurred. Your grandmother said to me, "Your grandmother was a beautiful women then

Isaac King moved to Whitley Co., Kentucky before my papa did and lived four miles from where I was raised.

I remember when I was a little girl of riding behind him to Williamsburg on a gib white stable horse. We were going to hear a Presbyterian preacher. I was going to ride behind Mama and Ellen Carr behind Papa when he said, "Put her behind me". I was so much afraid of him and of the horse too that it was anything but a "pleasant" ride to me. We crossed the Cumberland River, which was pretty full too.

Decatur Dryden's Grandmother Dryden was a Berry. I think my father's sister, but perhaps a cousin. Your Grandmother Duncan's mother was Polly Price before she was married to that lame weaver Jack Laughlin. She is the only one of your ancestors whose nationality I do not know. When your grandmother was a little girl, this Polly rode a fine young mare, that was a great favorite in the family, some miles to a neighbors and as she was coming home a bull that was roaming in the woods took after her and she ran the mare and got home safe. She wanted to keep the mare up til the bull left, but no, her husband turned her out, saying she would keep out of the bulls way. The next day, they found the mare dead -- gored to death by the bull.


1: Sarah "Sallie" SHARP
Birth: January 18, 1754 Pennsylvania
Death: May 13, 1834 Whitley County, Kentucky Age: 80
Burial: Whitley County, Kentucky
Father: John SHARP (1720-1796)
Mother: Jane HAMILTON (1721-1789)
Marriage: about 1775 Virginia
Children: John Wesley (1776-1860)
Isabelle (1778-1858)
Lewis (1781-)
Benjamin (1785-)
Elizabeth (1786-1865)
Sally Sharp (1788-1874)
Marie Ann
Francis (1791->1880)
Dele Lafayette (1796-)


Source: Steven H. Alsep, 143 Oak Grove Church Road, Corbin Kentucky 40701-9574

Last Modified: July 13, 2000
Created: October 2, 2000