Echoes From The Past

By JUDY MAUPIN *- Echoes From the Past
(A Column of historical and genealogical anecdotes, stories and family notes.)
Calloway County, Ky.

The Champions Move Westward

December 22, 1979
This Is a continuation of Bonnie Smith's account of her family, the Champions, and how they settled America and gradually moved west "

As early as 1647, Massachusetts passed a law requiring every town of 100 to keep up a grammar school This system prevailed In all the colonies. Colleges were established in nearly every colony. Some of the more famous are: Harvard, established in 1636; William and Mary, in Virginia, in 1693; Yale In 1701; Princeton in 1746; the University of Pennsylvania In 1749; and Columbia in 1753.

The early college curriculum would probably equal a high school education of today, yet their alumni were such profoundly educated men as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Alexander Hamiltion. One of the early alumni of the William and Mary College was an "Alexander Champion of Jamestown, Class of 1738."

The settlers tended to move on navigable rivers. The Appalachian Mountains were like a broad low wall with broken areas which, with difficulty, could be crossed.

The indians opposed this movement and hostility developed. The Indians cultivated small fields of corn, melons and vegetables, depending on wild game for food and clothing. With the westward movement and settlement, the wild game was destroyed or driven away. The indians tried In self defense to keep these hunting grounds and protect their only means of livelihood they knew. This warfare slowed the migration but could not stop it.

In 1749, a group of wealthy Virginians formed the Ohio Company, to place a colony west of the mountains and in 1753 built a fort at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers which became the site of today's Pittsburgh.

Many families moved three or four times In a single generation. They tended to follow parallels of latitude, so you can trace: New Englanders through western New York to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois; Virginia families through Kentucky, Missouri and Arkansas; South Carolinians to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana; Georgia also migrated this way. At the same time, there was also a movement southwestward from New England and the Middle Atlantic states.

In 1772, James Robertson placed a settlement of North Carolinians in the Wautauga Valley in what Is now eastern Tennessee, and In 1779 he led a colony as far west as Nashville. In this group were descendants of William Champion who married into the Elias Fort family and Lela Ann Champion Bell, a daughter of Benjamin Champion of Halifax County, North Carolina; this is tied in with the later famous story of the Bell Witch.

Kentucky and Tennessee settlement around 1775 was accomplished by crossing the Appalachian mountains into Kentucky by a colony led by Daniel Boone in 1775. Kentucky rapidly filled with settlers In the census of 1790, Kentucky had 73,677 inhabitants, all of them coming Into the area during the preceeding 15 years, Kentucky was called, "the promised land, the land of milk and honey." By 1800 there were 220,955 Inhabitants. Tennessee was also growing; in 1790, 35,691 population; by 1100, 105,602.

The Champions were given land grants in the Kentucky Territory, which I am sure was the reason for our migration to the Livingston County and surrounding areas of southwestern Kentucky.

The first records of Champions found In Livingston County are of the period of 1806-1808. However, some members of the family from North Carolina migrated to Tennessee In 1791, in the company of Ellas Fort, and I believe that some of the family moved In

to the area around Salem, Kentucky, around 1796. I have records showing John Tolley, Senior, a Virginian, exploring the area where there are only two settlements In the Kentucky territory, and in 1792 he choose a tract of land in what is now the Carrsville area of Livingston county, and laid claim to It. He raised a group of settlers and returned here in 1796. John N. Tolley, grandson of the above explorer, married Almeda Champion, daughter of Theophilus and Agnes (Nelson) Champion In June of 1840.

Many school children consider American history a rather dry subject; but if somehow It could be related to their own families, in the way that Bonnie has done It, it would gain a personal touch and would be sure to gain their Interest. It would become more than the story of a country's growth; It would be the story of a family's growth.

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