Robert Doak ???

The contents of this page were originally provided in 2009 by Ralph Doak:

Firstly, from p. 81 of The Irvins, Doaks, Logans and McCampbells of Virginia & Kentucky, by Margaret Logan Morris:

"The Presbyterians of Augusta County continued their supplication to the Presbytery of Donegal, for a pastor to reside among them. In 1737 they first applied for the services of Rev. Mr. Thompson, who came and preached for a time. They next presented a call for the Rev. John Craig." "At a meeting of Presbytery in Sep. 1740, Robert Doak and Daniel Dennison from Virginia, declared in the name of the congregation of Shenandoah their adherence to the call formally presented to Mr. Craig; and the next day Mr. Craig was set apart for the work of the gospel ministry, in the south part of Beverly's Manor". This congregation was afterwards named "The Augusta Stone Church." Rev. John Craig served this congregation for thirty-four years.--Waddell's Annals of Augusta County.

This is quite unobjectionable - in so far as it is indeed a quote from The Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871, by Jos. A. Waddell (p 39, Second Edition, 1902). However, Waddell was in fact also quoting another published work, Sketches of Virginia: Historical and Biographical, by the prolific Rev. William Henry Foote, DD, on p 28 of which (2nd Series, Second Edition, 1856), one may read pretty much exactly the same words, except that Foote's text has:

... Robert Doag and Daniel Dennison, from Virginia, ...

Some years ago, having failed to find any other 1740s record of an adult Robert Doak in the Augusta Co, VA, area, I contacted the Donegal Presbytery with a query as to whether their records could confirm that a Robert Doak (of whatever spelling) had indeed accompanied Daniel Dennison in 1740 or perhaps if it had in fact been a certain Robert Poag(e), to whom I had found more than a few convincing contemporary references ...well, it's odd how these things turn out - my query arrived quite soon after one from a descendant of Daniel Dennison, so the answer was very swiftly forthcoming: it was indeed Robert Poage and not Robert Doak who appeared on behalf of "the congregation of the Shenandoah" at the Presbytery of Donegal in 1740.

Secondly, to the matter of a Robert Doak alleged to have been 'sighted' in Augusta Co, VA, in 1753 - and here's a little more from Margaret Logan Morris:

In October, 1753, a party of rangers passed through what is now Rockingham County. "The brethren had thus come in their journey to the vicinity of Mount Crawford. They tell of their dinner there of meat and dumplings, and their experience further on at Middle River, and at Robert Doak's," who has a beautiful plantation and good Water. There we bought some hay and chaff." The people were very modest.

Ms Morris is clearly quoting another source ... perhaps, in a different translation, from the same as for this:

Oct. 24. [1753]

At 2:30 A.M. our broth was ready, and at three we were on our way. One mile from camp we found good water, the same one mile further. Two more miles brought us to Middle Branch, a fairly large creek, with a bank difficult to climb that gave us much trouble. Most of the Brn. crossed on a fallen tree, Br. Kalberlahn fell in but did not hurt himself. It was not yet day when we crossed the creek. One mile beyond was a creek, and then one mile to Robert Bohk, who has a pretty plantation and good water. There we bought some hay and chaff and the people were very polite. Three miles further we came to Augusti Court House, a little village of twenty houses, surrounded with hills.

-- from Diary of a journey of Moravians, translated and annotated by Adelaide L. Fries, an archivist and scholar at the Archives of the Moravian Church at Winston-Salem from 1911 to 1949.

In fact, Ms Morris was also quoting from another published work, A History of Rockingham County, by John Walter Wayland Ph.D, first published in 1912:

The brethren had thus come in their journey to the vicinity of Mt. Crawford. They tell of their dinner there of meat and dumplings, and of their experiences farther on, at Middle River, at Robert Bohk's, and at "Augusti Court House"; but having followed them to the borders of Rockingham, we bid them farewell.

Rockingham County, incidentally, did not exist in 1753, but even now that "pretty plantation" is very definitely within Augusta County - something of which we can be absolutely sure thanks to the fact that the present Augusti Court House, in Staunton, is the fifth 'incarnation' of that seat of local authority since the first, 'a crude log structure', was constructed on the very same site in 1745.

And now, (back) to The Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871, by Jos. A. Waddell, a text search of which for the exact phrase "three miles north of Staunton" might just stumble you onto:

Mr. Poage settled on a plantation three miles north of Staunton, which he must have purchased from William Beverley, as the land was in Beverley's Manor. The tract contained originally seven hundred and seventy-two acres.

This Mr Poage was, yet again, our friend Robert of that ilk - his patent for the land dates from 1739 and there is no doubt that he was still alive in 1753: his will is dated October 20, 1773.

So, both the references upon which Ms Morris appears to rely for identification of her earliest-known Doak ancestor were cases of mistaken identity ... which, I respectfully suggest, renders the following, also from p. 81 of her work, somewhat surreal:

I have sufficient reason and proof to record Robert Doak as the parent of James. We have the proof that James was born in Rockingham County. Of the children of Robert Doak I have the following: James, born about 1755 to 1760. Robert m. _____ Breckenridge. He came to Kentucky. His name is on the Fayette County court records as early as 1776. Joseph W., one daughter, Mary, married a Breckenridge, and Jane who married James Dunn, son of James and Martha (Long) Dunn. Her will proved June 29, 1849.

So, have we perhaps a pernicious passel of Poage poseurs1 here? Well, probably not: for one thing, the Poages seem to have their ancestors reasonably thoroughly accounted for and also at hand is, if not Deliverance, then at any rate one Oren F. Morton and a worthy tome entitled A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia, first published in 1920. This includes a section labelled MISCELLANEOUS DATA, assembled "from will-books, deed-books, marriage lists, and other miscellaneous sources of information", and which includes:


1. Ann, b 1784 d 1866 m Hugh McGuffin

2. James m Jane Dunn

3. John W b 1770c m Jane McClure

4. Robert, immigrant, m _______ Breckenridge, sister to Robert [Breckenridge]

C[hildren] James (see 2)

5. Samuel - brother to John - admr David Steele, 1747

6. Samuel - immigrant - m (on voyage) Jane Mitchell

(from p 482 - amended layout and minor [added clarification])

Hmm - some of that data looks familiar ... and they all look a whole lot like snippets from research notes.2 1. and 3. refer to known/suspected Doak marriages - Ann McGuffin, widow, married (24 Aug 1826, Rockbridge Co, VA) Col Robert Doak, a son of 'Immigrant' Sam, whilst John Whit(e)field Doak (b 1778), son of Rev Sam (1749-1830) is usually said to have married Jane Alexander ... but, as another snippet in Mr Oren's work indicates, that Jane (b 1773) was likely a daughter of one Archibald Alexander and his 2nd (or later) wife, Jane McClure, who he married in 1757.

5. is well-known to anyone familiar with the known Doak references in Chalkley and a portion of 6. is by now so well-known (also, it should be noted, improbable) as to be notorious ... but for now it is of course in nos 2. & 4. that the present focus of interest must bear. pace Ms Morris, there's no proof of anything to be found in either entry - they are nothing more than just a few factoids that someone and/or other found interesting enough to note down.

Still, thanks to other, somewhat more well-referenced sources, there appears to be strong evidence that in 1786 a James Doak married Jen(n)et, née Dunn, the widow of a John Fulton - also that he (James) became, in 1788, legal guardian to his stepson John Fulton (Jr). There may even be proof - I simply don't have any reliable source references to support such a contention and therefore must leave these matters open to doubt at least for the present. Of more immediate concern is the parentage of that James Doak - in re which it is simply not clear from the data given by Mr Morton whether he himself has referred readers to James as a possible son of Robert or whether that suggestion was in fact made by the note-taker/s for item 4.

Another curious uncertainty concerns the source for that crucial item "Robert, immigrant, m _______ Breckenridge": both Morton and Ms Morris have the same or very similar information and it is highly improbable either was simply quoting the other. Morton makes a specific reference in the Introduction to his book of a highly significant collection of genealogical data in the possession of one Boutwell Dunlap, of San Francisco, but there is no indication of which I am aware that Ms Morris also visited California in the course of her research - such a trip would I suspect have been memorable. That Dunlap collection, incidentally, is described as follows:

Mr. Dunlap's manuscript collections on the history and genealogy of the Valley of Virginia and Western Virginia are said to be the largest in America.

I suppose that little lot may just be of some interest to Brewster, Dunn, Irvin, Logan, McCampbell, Morris & Seward (to name but a few) researchers as well as mere Doak types, for whom I must, alas, provide a little more in the way of correction to the Doakdata in Ms Morris' work.

Beginning on p. 79 is a section entitled DOAK, in respect of which the following should be noted:

The most likely number of immigrant Doak brothers was four (David, John, Robert & Samuel) together with perhaps three sisters: definitely 'the original Thankful Doak', and, probably, also Ann & Mary. A brother Nathaniel and a sister Julia are to be discounted - they appear to have made their entrance courtesy of one Janie P C French, vol 6 (Doak) in a series entitled Notable Southern Families. To be polite, that should have been published by, say, Balderdash, Bunkum & Claptrap (under license from Hogwash Inc) - it's probably the single 'greatest' source of conventionally-published misinformation concerning Doak genealogy, and there is regrettably strong competition for that 'accolade'.

The year of immigration is a seriously-vexed question: 1704 is a perennial favourite but arises from a mistaken reading of a source which never offered that date as anything other than speculative. 1740, which some have quite seriously preferred as a 'typo' revision of 1704, is demonstrably too late, probably by at least 12 years (see below), although it is by no means certain that the Doaks and the Mitchells arrived in America even in the same year, let alone on the same ship.

1718 is one strong contender, with a ship called the Elizabeth having become almost Ark-like as the fons et origo for all the immigrant Doaks - but, according to one deafeningly-trumpeted hypothesis, only if the parents are Robert & Margaret rather than James & Elizabeth ... or Samuel & unknown, or unknown & the Widow Doak, or James-Samuel (desperation setting in there, I've always suspected) and so on and so on, ad nauseam almost ad infinitum - hey, guys, relax, will youse ... there's nothing at all wrong about not being sure until you really can be, OK? Bit of a downer about the 'and perhaps we never will be sure', bit, admittedly, but if that's the way it is, to my mind those as-yet-unidentified ancestors deserve the honesty of uncertainty rather than to be 'honoured' by demeaning delusional squabbles among a bunch of gamblers.

[minor outbreak of fulmination ends]

Samuel Doak and Jane Mitchell almost certainly married in Lancaster Co, PA, not long before they set out for the Shendandoah Valley - and the same applies to Samuel's brother-in-law John Finley and Samuel's sister, Elizabeth Thankful Doak. Lancaster Co was until 1728 part of Chester Co and the 1728 petition which brought about the creation of Lancaster Co was signed by Thomas Mitchell (Jane's father, who died in 1734) and a James Doke, who may have been father of the immigrant Doak brothers. There is a will surviving for Thomas Mitchell which provides corroboration as to the identification of both Jane and her mother but, alas, no such record regarding James.

There is evidence, from I believe Orange Co, VA, records, which indicates that a 100-acre tract adjoining the 647 acres secured in 1741 under the name of Samuel Doak was purchased as early as 1739 and that it was there that the initial Augusta Co, VA, Doak homestead was established. There is also firm evidence that David, John & Samuel Doak were settled in Augusta Co in the 1740s - but, infuriatingly, no such evidence for Robert. Ms Morris (pp 80-81) states:

Robert Doak, one of the three original emigrants (and many circumstances point to his being the father of James, my Great-grandfather), was in Augusta County prior to 1740. His location was near the present town of Mount Crawford, in Rockingham County, which was divided from Augusta County in 1776, and where all wills and Court records were destroyed by fire, hence it has been impossible to establish his identity satisfactorily.


Back to those Moravians, just briefly: for a start, where Ms Morris got her party of rangers from is a somewhat bizarre mystery - none whatsover are mentioned in either of the two translations of the journal available to me online, only one of which, I think, was available to her in published form. As for locating Robert Doak near Mt Crawford, well, not even the Moravian journalist did that - nor did he mention anyone remotely resembling a Doak anywhere thereabouts, which was quite a few miles back along the trail from where the 'Robert Bohk' she mistook for Robert Doak was so memorable a provider of "hay and chaff".

Not "many circumstances ..." - rather, just a faint hint or two that there may have been an immigrant brother Robert Doak and that he may have married a Miss Breckenridge and fathered a son called James. Some proof as to those matters would be more than a little interesting to more than just the Doaks who descend from that James, I can assure you.

Of the children of Samuel & Jane Doak named in Samuel's will, we know that Eleanor was the eldest - she died aged 85 in 1834 and was therefore born either in 1738 or 1739 - and that David, the eldest son, was baptised in Augusta Co, VA, in Dec 1740. His (David's) will, dated 26 June 1799, names the following children:

Samuel, David, Jenny, Rosannah, Betsey, Paggy, Fanny, Darcos, Polly, Elly, Hugh

This data comes from a throughly reliable transcript, spelling as found, of the original will. Their father, who died in 1802 (will proved 28 Jun), seems most likely to have married three times rather than just twice, firstly to Janet Alexander and, lastly, to Janet Davi(e)s - his widow is named in the will as Jennet and his youngest son was named Hugh Davis Doak - with an intervening period of espousal to one Eleanor Mitchell, who at the time of her marriage was probably the widow of a deceased Mr Turner.

Back to Ms Morris and page 80, from which:

Col Samuel (b ca 1775) appears to have been a somewhat 'interesting' character; married:

  1. Margaret Shields
  2. Nancy Robertson (she seems to have hung herself)
  3. unknown Hanna, dau of a Robert Hanna
  4. Elizabeth Noel

He may or may not have been a military colonel - some sources indicate the title may have been something of a 'courtesy title' for an under-sheriff

Imprisoned for debt in Augusta Co & property there signed over to the Sheriff and put up for sale in 1829, upon which the 'Colonel' promptly moved (with the former Miss Noel) to MO.

It's a bit difficult to total accurately from the notes I have, but looks to me like Col Sam fathered at least 5 and probably 6 (legitimate) children so we're missing a few there !

I have nothing re a son of Col Sam called John, but I am reasonably sure Col Samuel's son Alexander left a family - I reckon two of his descendants are responsible for most of the accurate information I have on the Doaks I call 'the Augustans' !!

Elizabeth Laura m Henry Hawpe ... uhh, pretty sure that's another "Nope", but this is heading into detail I don't have (too far down a line not of relevance to my efforts)

However, what I do have is:

Elizabeth Doak (b 1779), dau of David & Jennet Alexander, m John Larew. Elizabeth died, prob 1836 in Ohio, and John married again.

Also, from the same usually ultra-reliable source, I see that Rosannah & Betsey Wilson Doak, daus of John Doak (d 1806), helped raise the daughters of their cousin Elizabeth Larew Doak between her death and the remarriage of her husband, Henry Hawpe, whose sister Catherine married their brother Thomas Mitchell Doak.

So, maybe Col Samuel named a daughter Elizabeth Larew Doak in memory of a favourite sister? Problem there is it looks like Elizabeth Larew Hawpe, née Doak, died in 1833. Her husband, Henry, seems to have remarried in 1847.

The Elizabeth Larew Doak stuff is ringing a few loud alarm bells, not least because I note the looming presence of some known 'dodgy' sources in amongst the notes I have re this.

Go to the FamilySearch site, if you would like to order various issues of The Doak Connection newsletter to read on microfiche at your local Family History Center. That's where to refer folks re Col. Sam and his 'line' of Doaks, I reckon.

but, there is:

David of the second generation married second time, and moved to North Carolina, later Tennessee. He married third time, and had one son, Hugh, who movd to Marshall, Saline County, Mo., and died there.

Well now, that's either:

Nope - it was John of the first generation (and my own direct Doak ancestor) who moved to North Carolina: David of the second lived & died in Augusta Co. Also nope, it was David's eldest son (Col) Samuel who died (1836/7) in Saline, MO - the location of the death in 1824 of David's youngest son, Hugh Davis Doak, was possibly Lexington, Amherst, VA, but a contemporary obituary notice does not make that detail clear.

or (perhaps more likely)

It needs to be made just a teensy bit clearer that the David in question was a David Hawpe !!

A similar difficulty exists, btw, in Ms Morris' exposition re Robert & James, as per:

We have the proof that James was born in Rockingham County. Of the children of Robert Doak I have the following: James, born about 1755 to 1760. Robert m. _____ Breckenridge. He came to Kentucky. His name is on the Fayette County court records as early as 1776. Joseph W., one daughter, Mary, married a Breckenridge, and Jane who married James Dunn, son of James and Martha (Long) Dunn...

Does that mean the Robert who m _____ Brenckenridge is supposed to have been on the Fayette Co records as from 1776 and, perhaps, that this Robert was a brother of James son of Robert - at least according to Ms Morris, who does not perhaps consider the Robert who m ______ Breckenridge & 'immigrant Robert' as the same individual?

That "one daughter, Mary, married a Breckenridge" looks very useful indeed - Mary, dau of Samuel & Jane, has been a notorious bigamist for years. She's most often married contemporaneously to a Robert Breckenridge and one Abner Weatherl(e)y but John Tate also occasionally gets a look in from types who can't accept she may just have had an immigrant aunt called Mary.

and, in case you're still looking for some missing 'footnotes'

1 unusually stoopid ones, if so, at least by the usual 'glom onto the most famous available' rule which seems to inspire much of what, alas, is passed off as 'genealogy' - the Poages rate 97 mentions by Waddell with but 21 for 'my team', the Doaks.
2 so maybe Ms Morris wasn't quite the demented old dingbat of a dowager I was beginning to envisage ?!
This page was last updated 5 Jun 2015.