Chapter History

 

Letitia Coxe Shelby Chapter History

 

As reported in the El Cajon Valley News, November 3, 1949:

Letitia Coxe Shelby Chapter, Daughters of American Revolution held a formal organization meeting and tea in La Mesa Youth Center Friday, October 21, 1949. Mrs. Charles Danforth, State Regent installed the first corps of officers headed by Mrs. Enoch E. Simms, Regent, Letitia Coxe Shelby, for whom the chapter was named, was the wife of Brig. Gen. Evan Shelby of Virginia, and Mrs. Simms is one of their direct descendants.

Mrs. Leo Myers, regent of San Diego Chapter, the sponsoring chapter, presented the newly organized chapter with a gavel, a gift from her chapter. Each member signed the organization report on a Colonial desk of the Revolutionary era and with a quill pen, both articles loaned by Mrs. Lulu Matteson.

 

Letitia Coxe and Evan Shelby

 

When Letitia Coxe was born in 1727, the Coxe family had been in the New World 86 years. Letitia's great grandfather, Peter Larsson Cock, was sent as an imprisoned soldier to New Sweden. He became a cook on the ship and adopted the surname Kock, which means cook in Swedish. Peter was born in 1610 at Bangsta Turinge Parish, Stockholm to Lars Petersson. The name had become Coxe by the mid 1700s.

After becoming a freeman, Peter settled on an island at the mouth of the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia, married, and raised 13 children. He served as judge on the court under Governor Rising and he retained this position under Dutch and English rule until he was succeeded by his eldest son Lars. Both Peter and Lars were frequently called upon by William Penn's government to act as interpreter and to witness treaties with the Indians of Pennsylvania. When Peter died in 1687, his youngest son, Letitia's grandfather, Gabriel Petersson Cock inherited his father's island.

Gabriel married Maria Frände (daughter of Nils Larsson Frände) and raised their nine children on Peter Cock's Island. David, Letitia's father, was born there in 1688. In 1713 Gabriel's brother John died leaving his wife Brigitta and children. Gabriel sold his father's island and moved his family to St. Georges Creek in New Castle County, Maryland, to live with his brother's widowed family. Gabriel's wife, Maria, and John's widow, Brigitta, were sisters.

In 1720, David Coxe married Susannah Davis/Davies (born about 1702, possibly Scotland). It is believed that Susannah was a descendant of Chief Openchancanough, a brother of Chief Powhatan—research continues to validate this descendancy. The Coxe family attended the Swedish Lutheran Church at Racoon Creek, New Jersey and it is here Letitia's birth is recorded: "David and Susanna Kock's Leddi, born on January 12, 1727, baptized on the 15th. Godparents: Carl Sträng, Anders Dahlbo, Christina Homman, Anna Kock."

David and Susannah lived on a 103 acre tract called "Lubberland" which lay on the north bank of the Potomac River at the mouth of Licking Creek (now Washington County, Maryland). He acquired this property after 1740, and it was about nine miles by road from Maiden's Choice where the Shelby family lived. The great stone Fort Frederick, erected by the province during the French and Indian War, stands three or four miles to the southeast.

The Evan Shelby, Sr. family came to America from Glamorganshire, Wales in 1732. They settled inland 150 miles to the present Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Their 300 acres of farmland were seized by the county sheriff to discharge a debt incurred by another Welsh settler. In June 1739, Shelby Sr. purchased 1,200 acres in the cheaper Maryland territory on a narrow, irregularly-shaped tract named Maiden's Choice, about twelve miles west of the present Hagerstown. This brought together Evan Jr. and Letitia.

Evan Shelby, Jr. married Letitia Coxe in 1744 and Evan Sr. gave the young couple a house on the northern end of Maiden's Choice. Between 1746 and 1760, seven children were born. Evan farmed and raised cattle and sheep. He also served as county justice and traded furs with nearby Indians. Their children were:

  • Shelby, b 30-Aug-1746, died young.
  • Shelby, b 19-Aug-1748, d 1818, married Elizabeth Pile.
  • Shelby, b 11-Dec-1750, d 18-Jul-1826 Lincoln County, Kentucky, married Susannah Hart. Served in the Continental Army. Isaac was first Kentucky governor in 1792. Also served as Kentucky's fifth governor.
  • Shelby, b 1752, d 1786 in Lincoln County, Kentucky. James was killed by Indians.
  • Shelby, b 27-Feb-1755, d after 1833 in Washington County, Virginia, married James Thompson, a captain in the Revolutionary War. James Thompson was a relative of General William and Elizabeth Henry Russell (sister to Patrick Henry).
  • Shelby, b 27-Feb-1754, d 18-Jan-1783. Killed by Indians. Married Catherine Shelby, daughter of John Shelby, his uncle.
  • Shelby, b 1760, d 17-Sep-1828 near New Madrid, Mississippi. Married a Miss Renfro.
When Evan Sr. died in 1751, he left Evan Jr. the heart of the Maiden's Choice land plus much more of the 2,500 acres he had acquired. By 1754, Evan held 24,000 acres in what is now Washington County, Maryland. He named one section The Mountain of Wales. This may explain why the will of Letitia's father dated 1765 reads: "Then I give and bequeath to my daughter Letitia Shelby one cow to her and her heirs forever."
 
Evan Shelby's military career began in 1755 when he served in Braddock's Campaign. He was commissioned by Gov. Sharpe of Maryland as a captain of rangers in the French and Indian War. He was captain of Maryland volunteers in the Provincial Army. He led an advance of army under Gen. Forbes which took possession of Fort Duquesne in 1758, crossing the Ohio with more than half his company of scouts and making a daring reconnaissance of the fort.

On November 12, 1758 near Loyal Hanna, the men under his command came into conflict unexpectedly with a party of Indians and, in a personal encounter, Capt. Evan Shelby slew with his own hand one of the principal Indian chiefs. He served as major of a detachment of the Virginia regiment in this same war. In May, 1762, Evan was elected one of the managers for Maryland of the Potomac Company, and he acquired large tracts of land in Maryland by patent and purchase.

About 1772, Evan and Letitia immigrated to Fincastle County in Southwest Virginia. Their new home was called Sapling Grove. A 1779 survey of state lines showed Sapling Grove to be in North Carolina. This land later became Northeast Tennessee, near the town of Bristol, Sullivan County, Tennessee.

Letitia was a fervent patriot and an inspiration to Evan Shelby during the stormy prewar days and battles of the Revolution. In 1774 Evan commanded a company under Dunmore and Lewis against Indians on Scioto River. He fought in the battle of Point Pleasant on the Ohio, and near the close of action on the death or disability of his superiors in command, was chief commanding officer. In 1776, Evan was appointed by Gov. Henry of Virginia a Major in Army commanded by Col. Christian against the Cherokees.

In 1777, Evan was appointed Colonel of Sundry garrisons posted on the frontier of Virginia and commissioned with Cols. Preston and Christian to hold treaty expedition of two thousand men against the Chickamauga Indians on the Tennessee River, for which service he was thanked by the Continental Congress. That same year he was appointed by Gov. Caswell of North Carolina a Brigadier General in the state militia, the first officer of that grade on the Western waters.

On September 7, 1777, Letitia died at Charlottesville, Virginia. It is not known what brought her to Charlottesville, which is located midway between her new home at Sappling Grove and her earlier residence, Maiden's Choice. She lies buried in the old Maplewood Cemetery and her tombstone bears this inscription: "Here lies the body of Letitia Shelby who died Sept. 7, 1777, Aged 52 years." Her birth record has now been located, so we know her death age was 50 years.

In 1788, at age 68, Evan Shelby married 20 year old Isabella Elliott. They had three children: James, born in 1788; Letitia, born in 1790, and  Eleanor, born in 1792. Evan died December 4, 1794 and is buried at Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia, which is included within his lands known originally as Sapling Grove and later as King’s Meadows. He lived to see Isaac become Kentucky’s first governor.