|This article originally appeared in the December issue of the Cassity/Cassidy Family Association newsletter "The Link". Following the article is an editorial, "Peter vs. Neil", by Linda Cassidy Lewis. If you have additional information or have reached different conclusions about the various groups of Cassidys in Virginia, please email us!|
The Great Unknown?|
Who is the great Unknown Cassity? He is listed as the father of our five brothers and their sisters. Can we determine who was the father of the Cassity clan who came to Kentucky over two hundred years ago? Here is the evidence we have for the known Cassity men in the early Virginia records.
Obviously no one we know has any document that gives the name of the father of the elders John, Peter, William, David or Daniel Cassity or we wouldnt have to be playing detective. The earliest mention of Cassity men in the Virginia records discovered so far is in 1702. On a list of importations to New Kent County, dated 25 April 1702, there is listed a Phillemy Cassety. On a list of importations to Essex County, recorded 10 Mar 1703, are a Cornelius Cassidy and a James Cassidy. These lists of importations were submitted to obtain land granted for such. Whether or not... or when... the land was ever claimed by the immigrants listed is not known. We have found no further record of this Phillemy or James but we will discuss Cornelius a bit later on.
Next we find a court record in King George County, Virginia of a suit brought by a W.Coseby[?] Battaley against Peter Cassady recorded in July 1727. Peter Cassady failed to appear in court and the judgement was for the plaintiff, but in November court the suit was dismissed, no explanation is given for what this suit was about or why it was dismissed.
Then in July-September 1730 we find a series of court records dealing with suits against the estate of Peter Cassity in Spotsylvania County. At this time Spotsylvania County was just slightly northwest from King George County, but whether this was the same Peter mentioned in the King George law suit is not known.
We have recently discovered that in 1744 a Peter Cassity was taxed 50 pounds of tobacco in Frederick County, Virginia. We are currently trying to find out if this Peter is recorded in any other records of that county.
We then find record of a Neal Cassaty witnessing a deed for property along Buffalo Creek of the North Fork of the James. This is recorded in the Augusta County court order books on 10 Nov 1752. It is assumed that this same man is the Neil Cassidy exempted from levy on account of great age and poverty as recorded in these same books on 15 November 1752.
There is a William Cassada/Cassaday in the records of Halifax County as early as 1756. He died there in 1794 and his will mentions a wife Ann, sons John and James and granddaughter Sally. In later Halifax County there are also mentioned a Daniel, a Sarah, a Jimison, a William, a Joel and a James. It is not known how, or if, they all relate to each other and we have no evidence that they are connected to our line.
In the Lunenburg County, VA Patents Book 36, page 1047 it is recorded that a William Cassaday purchased 104 acres on 10 July 1767. Since Halifax County was formed from Lunenburg, it's possible this William is connected to the William of Halifax.
In the Augusta County court orders of August and November of 1767 we find records of the estate of Neil/Neal Casaty/Cassaty/Casety/Cassedy, deceased. A John, James and Peter are directly said to be sons of Neil and it is assumed that a Patrick named along with them is also a son.
According to an Augusta Parish Vestry Book, on 17 Mar 1768 a Patrick Cashady was apprenticed to William McBride. On 18 Aug 1768 the Augusta court order books record that Peter Cassaty, orphan of Neal Cassaty, was to be apprenticed to Samuel Wallace.
There is also a record in the Augusta County court order books of a suit against a Thomas Cassety who was hired to crop a field and failed to do it. This is recorded in November 1767 although the agreement with Thomas was dated 15 October 1764. We do not know the outcome of the suit or where in Augusta County this field was located.
From a Revolutionary War pension application we learn there was a Thomas Cassady born in Aug 1765 in Prince William County [others apparently believe he was born 1757 in Augusta County]. This of course could not be the same Thomas hired to crop that field previously mentioned. There was also an estate probated for a Thomas Cassady in this county on 6 Oct 1777 but this is evidently an older Thomas since the Thomas born in 1765 later married his first wife in Montgomery County in 1797. These two Thomas are father and son according to one descendant. The younger Thomas moved to Miami County, Ohio.
The Augusta County court recorded on 11 January 1772 that a convicted Simon Casedy/Casidy admitted that his slanderous statements about the chastity of John Halls daughter and the thievery of a man named Robert Wiley were false. This is evidently the Simon Cassady who lived in the area of Augusta that became Botetourt then Fincastle then Montgomery. This Simon is believed to have moved to Miami County, Ohio about 1789.
In 26 September 1776 a petition was signed by Peter Cassity, Jr. This petition was sent by the inhabitants of Tygarts River Valley to the East Augusta District court asking for three companies of rangers to protect the area from depredation of Indians.
On 6 Nov 1777 a petition was signed in Monongalia County by some men who were asking that their area of Virginia be created in a new county, which did later become Harrison County, among the signers of this petition were Peter Casaday Sr., Peter Casaday Jr., John Casady, David Casaday and William Casaday. We do not yet have a copy, but we believe these same men signed a petition in Aug 1776 asking that Tygarts Valley be considered part of Old Augusta County and not the recently formed West Augusta District.
A Patriots List from Monongalia County, lists John Cassity, Peter Cassity Sr. and Peter Cassity Jr. as being among those who were credited with giving supplies and services for the Revolutionary War.
In 1779 a Michael Cassiday was listed as delinquent on his levy in Augusta County. I have no evidence to identify this Michael further. There was a Michael selling his land in Harrison County in 1806, a Michael who died in Rockbridge County before 1801 and a Michael who was in Fayette County, Kentucky by 1782 but whether this Michael in 1779 was any one of those we do not know.
On May 11 1780 a John Casety was one of the men, along with Jacob Westfall and Aron Richards, who appraised Francis Wires estate. All these three men also appear on the 1777 petition to form Harrison County as well as on the 1785 tax list of Randolph County.
In the Augusta County Minutes of Land Commission, 1780" land was granted in along the Tygers Valley River to John Casedy, William Casedy and Peter Casedy for [because of] settlement before 1778".
It is recorded in Land Grants from the Commonwealth of Virginia; Liber 4, p.170, that John Cassity was granted 200 acres in Monongalia County in 1781.
In 1782 the Monongalia County heads of families list includes William Cassaty, David Cassaty, Peter Cassaty, Jr. and John Cassaty.
The 1782 Rockbridge County tax list includes James Cashaday, Michael Cashaday and Peter Cashaday.
The 1782 Botetourt County list includes a Thomas Cashady and the York County list shows a William Cassaday. We do not know if this Thomas is one mentioned above or not. Nothing further is known of this William except that he was apparently still in York County in 1790.
The 1785 Harrison County tax list includes David Cassity, Peter Cassity, William Cassity and John Cassity.
The real 1790 Virginia census was burned and tax lists have been used as a substitute for what is known as the 1790 census. The 1787 tax lists were used for Rockbridge County listing James and Peter Casady; for Prince William County listing William Cassady; for York County listing William Cassity; for Halifax County listing William, John and James Casaday; for Montgomery County listing Thomas, Simon, Andrew and John; and for Randolph County listing Peter Jr., Peter Sr. and David Cassity.
We know a bit more about the Rockbridge County Cassitys. These are probably the descendants of Neal Cassaty who witnessed a deed there on Buffalo Creek in 1752. There are records in Rockbridge of a Peter, James, John and Michael Cassaty ... the name is as usual spelled various ways. James Casady appears on a 1778 tithables list. James, Michael and Peter Cashady appear on the tax list in 1782. We know from an 1801 marriage record of his daughter that Michael was deceased by 1801. Peter died in 1804. John and James are believed to have left Rockbridge county.
Peter vs. Neil
As the editor of this newsletter I would like to give my view on whether or not we can yet identify the father of our brothers. Remember that at one time Augusta County, Virginia included a major portion of present day Virginia, all of West Virginia and at least parts of what are now Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Ohio. So it may be that even though these groups of Cassity men are all listed in the Augusta County court records they may have lived a good distance from each other. Also keep in mind that the land they owned may have been included in different counties as these huge counties were broken into smaller ones and the county names and boundaries changed around them. This is the case with the Cassity men shown in the records moving from Monongalia to Harrison to Randolph.
We find two Peters, a John, a William and a David in the records of the group of Cassitys in the Tygart River Valley. According to an interview with the daughter of John, her father moved there from the South Branch. This was across the mountains to the east from Tygarts River. It is presumed that his brothers also moved from that area. As previously mentioned, in 1744 a Peter Cassity was listed as a tithable in Frederick County, Virginia. Through this county flows the South Branch of the Potomac. A section of this county was known as South Branch Manor.
So we know that by 1776 this Cassity group lived in the Tygarts River Valley, in what was then Monongalia County. We know that they began leaving Virginia by the spring of 1787. William may have left first after selling his Virginia land in March 1787. The first Kentucky tax list on which weve been able to find William is the 1790 Lincoln County list. John left after selling his land in April 1787 and is recorded in the tax list of December 1787 in Fayette County, Kentucky. Neither William nor John appear in the 1787 Randolph County, Virginia tax list. In September of 1791 Peter Sr. signed over a power or attorney to his son, Peter Jr., giving him the right to sell his land in my absence. But this was not presented in court until April 1792 so it may be that Peter Sr. did not leave the state until April 1792. Peter Jr. sold the land in May 1792 and A History of Randolph County, West Virginia by Dr. A.S. Bosworth records that Peter left the state in 1792. There has been no record found of David selling land in Virginia but he appears on the 1793 Clark County, Kentucky tax list with his brothers.
It has been found in the papers of some early researchers of our line that a Peter Cassity, Sr. was named as the father of John, William, Peter and David. We can see that there were two Peter Cassitys in this area. In the old records the titles of Senior and Junior did not always indicate a father and son. What it did indicate is that there were two men with the same name in the same locality... whether father and son, uncle and nephew, cousins or no blood relation at all. But we know from the 1791 power of attorney that, in this case, they were a father and son. The earliest mention of Jr. and Sr. we have found so far is the 1777 petition. We can assume that the men who signed this list were at the very least 16 years of age, being the minimum age a male was required to pay the tithe at county level, it is likely that they were all at least 21 which was the minimum age of males required to pay the tithe at state level. So we can estimate that the Peter Jr. who signed the petition was born no later than 1761. At this time we can not conclude exactly what part Peter Jr. played in supporting the Revolution or the dates involved, so we have no way of estimating his age from the Patriots List except to say that he must have been at least 16 at the time. In 1782 Peter Jr. is listed as the head of a household of 6 persons. If we consider this to be Peter, his wife and 4 children, we might conclude that Peter Jr. was at least 25 at the time and more likely he was older. It seems to have been the custom among these men to marry at about age 25 and if Peter Jr. did the same, then he could have been past 30 years old in 1782. We are told that one of the Peter Cassitys was Captain of the Militia when he left the state in 1792. It would be reasonable to assume that a Captain would be a mature man, probably over 40 years old. If this were true we would estimate this Peters date of birth to be not later than 1752. But the question must be asked, was it Peter Jr. or Peter Sr. who was the Captain of the Militia and left the state in 1792?
We see that in the 1787 Randolph County tax list Peter Jr. paid the tithe plus tax on 4 horses and 9 cattle. Peter Sr. was not tithable but did pay tax on 3 cattle. The reasons a man was declared non-tithable were varied. Some do not apply or are unlikely, such as being a woman, not a citizen or a being a college professor. But was he a political employee, a soldier, infirm [which may include old age], impoverished, a minister or a non-resident? Evidently Peter Sr. was still living in the county in 1791 when he gave power of attorney to his son, so he was a resident. We have no reason to believe he was a minister. Since he was paying tax on cattle its clear he was not impoverished. We do not know if he was infirm, although its very possible that he could have been elderly and exempt for that reason. We do know that one, could be the same one, of the Peter Cassitys was a Captain of the Militia and a Justice of the Peace in 1787 and its possible this could have qualified him to be exempt from the tithe.
From the above facts I will create two scenarios. In the first scenario I will assume that in the 1777 petition Peter Sr. and Peter Jr. are a father and son. Reasoning that Peter Jr. was at least 16 at the time, this would indicate that Peter Jr. was born before 1762 and Peter Sr. was born at least 25 years earlier. I will also assume that it is the same father and son in the 1787 tax list and now Peter Jr. is now at least 36 and Peter Sr. is at least 60. This would also be the Peter Cassity Jr. acting as attorney for his father, Peter Cassity Sr., in the sale of his land in 1792.
In the second scenario will I will assume that the Peter Sr. of 1777 has died and the Peter Sr. in the 1787 tax list is the former Peter Jr., and the brother of John, William and David. This would mean that his oldest son, also named Peter, would most likely not have been born before 1770. So now we would be looking for another Peter, son of Peter, born 1767-1772. We have found no record of a Peter Cassity born within that time frame. What we do have is record of a Peter Cassity born c.1774 but he was the son of John. We also have a Peter Thompson Cassity born 1775 but he was the son of William. The next closest candidate is a Peter Cassity who was born c.1790 and is found in the 1850 Bath County, Kentucky census. We can see that none of these young Peters could have been the Peter Cassity Jr. acting as attorney for his father in the sale of his land in 1792.
So lets consider more closely the first scenario. From the known facts we could reasonably estimate that Peter Jr. was born about 1752-1766 and that Peter Sr. was born no later than 1732. And if, as we believe, John was Peter Jr.s older brother, we would estimate that Peter Sr. was born closer to 1725. This could support the theory that the father of these brothers was a Peter Cassity, Sr. Do we have any record of such a Peter? Yes, we do. We know that the Peter Cassity who appears on the 1744 Frederick County, Virginia Fee Book had to be at least 16 and more likely at least 21. This would put his date of birth at no later than 1728. Although we have only just found this record and not had time to research his exact location in Frederick County we do know that the South Branch was in that county. So we can see that this 1744 Peter is old enough to be the father of our John, who is considered to be the eldest of the brothers. We know that John is supposed to have married Garner Ashby in the South Branch. We also know that the Ashbys also lived in Frederick County, Virginia. The pieces of the puzzle seem to be coming together.
If we take all the minimum ages for the above facts we could conclude that Peter Jr. would have to have been born before 1766. The eldest Peter Cassity found in the first true census of Kentucky in 1810 was over 45 years old which would make his date of birth no later than 1765. This could have been either the father or the son, but since there were younger children in the home it would be more reasonable to assume this was the son. So it would seem that the Peter still living in 1810 was the one called Peter Cassity, Jr. in Virginia. We assume from the language of the power of attorney that Peter Sr. intended to leave Virginia to move to Kentucky. It seems reasonable to believe that sometime between Sep 1791 and Apr 1792 Peter Sr. moved to Kentucky and soon after Apr 1792 Peter Jr. also moved there. Since Peter Sr. was exempt from the tithe in Virginia he may have also been exempted in Kentucky and if he lived with one of his children, not owning any property, he may never have been recorded in a Kentucky tax list. So the earliest Peter Cassity we see in the tax records may be Peter Jr., his son. Or perhaps Peter Sr. never made it to Kentucky, he was a man in his late 60's at the time and it was not an easy journey. Of course, in those days of primitive medicine any number of accidents and illnesses could kill young and old alike quite quickly. Peter Sr. may have died in Virginia before he could leave, died on the journey or soon after arriving, or he may have lived many years in Kentucky. Obviously there are many questions left to answer. But it seems that the evidence that the father of Peter, John, William and David being Peter Cassity, Senior is mounting.
There has always been the records of the four sons of Neal Cassaty found in the Augusta County, Virginia court records to consider. One of our cousins is adamant that these sons are four of our brothers and that there was no Peter Sr. old enough to be the father of our five brothers. We have shown that there was indeed a Peter old enough to have been their father. So who is this Neal and what happened to his sons?
Its not clear if the Cornelius Cassidy found on the 1702 immigrants list is the same as the Neal exempted from the levy in 1752. We also dont know if the Neal in 1752 is the same one who died in 1767. If the Cornelius in 1702 was at least 16, and probably older, he would have been at least 76 in 1752 and certainly qualifying as of great age for those days. But its not very likely that he would have had a sons 16 years and younger in 1767. So we may be looking at two different men named Cornelius/Neal Cassaty... possibly a father and son. Or old Cornelius may have had a much younger wife and was still producing sons into his late 60's.
We know from court records that John, son of Neal, was 16 in November 1767. No ages are given for James, Patrick and Peter but I think weve all assumed they were younger than John. Its possible this Neal had older children already living on their own, but we have no record of it. Peter, James and Patrick are known to have been apprenticed, but we have no record of an apprenticeship for John. Samuel Davis was named executor of Neals estate and also as guardian for both John and James.
As mentioned earlier, Neal Cassaty witnessed a deed in the area that would later become Rockbridge County. We know that Peter, James and John Cassaty are found in records of Rockbridge County. So I think we can assume these are three of the same sons of Neal mentioned in the court records. It would also be logical to assume that this is the Peter who married Mary McClung and the James who married Elizabeth McClung in Rockbridge. This is believed to be a case of two brothers marrying two sisters. There is known to be a John Cassady who was born c.1751 and married Martha Young of Rockbridge. It is known that Marthas father Robert Young and Samuel Davis, guardian of John and James Cassady, were neighbors. Peter Cassady died in Rockbridge in 1804 and later his widow and most of his children moved to Louisville, Kentucky. Most of Peters descendants spelled their surname Casseday.. James Cassady is believed to have left the state after 1806 but we do not know where he moved.
I do not believe Neals sons are our Cassity brothers for the following reasons. I believe that Neal and his sons were in the area of Virginia that would eventually become Rockbridge County from at least 1767, and some of their descendants were there until at least 1810. At this same time we have record of at least John being in the South Branch by 1766 and of our brothers John, Peter, William and David being in the Tygarts River Valley from at least 1776 and living there until 1787-1792. Although two of the given names match, these are extremely common names. Although the ages of both groups of sons may have not been too far apart, we know that our John married c.1766 and had his first child born in January 1767 so he was almost surely older than 16 in November 1767 when the court records Neil's son John as being age 16. Although both groups have sons named Peter, our Peter died in Kentucky between 1810-1820. Neals Peter died in 1804 in Rockbridge County and there is no evidence he had ever been to Kentucky. I simply see no evidence to suggest that our Peter, John, William and David were the sons of Neal Cassaty. I believe our brothers were the sons of Peter Cassity, Senior.
Could Neal/Cornelius and our Peter Sr. have been related? This is entirely possible but we have no evidence to support it yet. If anyone has, or finds in the future any more records of Cassitys, of any spelling, in early Virginia, please let us know. [ed_ LCL]