Telling the Story
We had a very successful trip. First of all, what a beautiful state. We flew into Pittsburgh, PA, rented a car, and drove to Charleston, the capitol of WV.
We drove to Wheeling, the first capitol of WV and then down state highway 2 which snakes along the Ohio River towards Pt. Pleasant, WV. Pt. Pleasant is where the Great Kanawha River (as opposed to the Little Kanawha River) empties into the Ohio River. We didn’t get as far as Pt. Pleasant on the way down, turning instead to the interstate highway at Parkersburg. We were anxious to get to Charleston before the State Archives closed. We made it.
The next two days were mostly spent at the archives checking land records, court records, miscellaneous lists, all dating the period between 1774 and 1810. We strongly suspect our great-great-great-grandparents, Ruth Ellison and William Droddy lived in Kanawha County during this time. We know that he was appointed as one of the first coroners of that county, and his brother-in-law, Capt. John Morris, was sheriff. John Morris was married to William’s sister, Margaret Droddy.
William and Margaret, along with their brothers Thomas and Ezekiel, were apparently abandoned by their parents, Elizabeth and Daniel Droddy about 1759 or 1760. The exact details of this are lost in time. What we do know is that Daniel was adjudicated a garnishee in 1758 or 59, and that he and Elizabeth left Virginia, taking with them their youngest son, Daniel II. Thomas, William and Ezekil were bound out. Thomas, who was about 14 at the time, and William, aged 4, maybe 5, were bound out to Robert Douglas. Ezekiel who was just a baby, was bound out to someone else. We haven’t found the court orders regarding Margaret yet, but we suspect someone was appointed her guardian. Those early Virginians were sticklers for legal details. In the order book which noted Daniel and Ezekiel’s disposition, the boys are referred to as orphans.
We don’t know the details of their upbringing. There is a notation in a civil suit many years later that suggests Robert Douglas moved to another county. We’re still looking for clues there.
Margaret, Ezekiel and William appear again in the late 1770s. Margaret married John Morris, a son of William Morris. The only detail to that is a comment by an earlier researcher who said that the Droddy lands bordered the Morris lands. William and Ezekiel are both listed as members of Capt. John Morris’s militia company, with a notation that they were living at the Morris stockade and raising a crop near there on their own land.
The Morrises all fought at the Battle of Pt. Pleasant in 1774. There is no record of any Droddys serving in that battle, so they may not have yet moved to the Kanawha valley. Margaret and John were married in 1778. By 1781, William and Ezekiel are being shown as part of John Morris’s militia company. By 1787, William has met and married Ruth Ellison, a daughter of James Ellison of Greenbriar County. James Ellison was a fairly successful farmer. We can find no further record of Ezekiel, leaving us to speculate that he may have been killed in one of the many skirmishes with Indians during this period. There were several periods of intense fighting between the Americans and the Shawnees not ending until the death of Tecumseh in 1814.
We heard that William operated a ferry across the Ohio at Pt. Pleasant, but we found nothing to confirm or support this theory. By 1820, William and a wife had made it to St. Charles, Missouri where he died in 1824. I say “a wife” because we do not know if this is our g-g-g-grandmother, Ruth Ellison, or not. There is another record of a William Droddy marrying in Illinois. We cannot determine whether this William Droddy is our g-g-g-grandfather or his son named William. We do know that son William spent time in Illinois because two of his children were born in Illinois.
William’s father, Daniel, is presumed to have died prior to 1798. That year William gave a power of attorney to Allyn Prier (Alan Pryor) with instructions for Pryor to do whatever was necessary to claim land belonging to Daniel near Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia. In the power of attorney, William refers to himself as a legal heir of Daniel.
We have no knowledge of William’s feelings towards his father and mother who abandoned him and his siblings in Virginia. I would note that the name Daniel is not found in any of William’s children’s descendants, while it appears frequently among the family that Daniel took to South Carolina.
Another note of distinction between the family left behind and the family taken. William spelled his name D-R-O-D-D-Y. In South Carolina, the name is spelled D-R-A-W-D-Y.
My grandfather, Joseph William Droddy, told my cousin Charles that his people came from Ireland on a banana boat. Every family legend generally has a kernel of truth.
My Droddys continued the family’s western migration, ending up in Texas in the early 1830s. By 1836, William was dead, but his sons, John, William and Adney, along with several of their sons, were in Texas. I believe they floated down the Mississippi as far as Louisiana. Maybe on a flat-bottomed boat. They all grew up on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. At least one of the brothers operated a ferry across the Sabine River between Texas and Louisiana.